Pastiera Napoletana and its Secrets – Authentic Neapolitan Ricotta and Wheat Berry Easter Pie Step-by-Step

Pastiera Napoletana is one of the most delicious Neapolitan cake known for its crispy crust and its insanely addictive perfumed filling that is rich and soft like a cheesecake – thanks to ricotta – but grainy like a rice pudding – thanks to whole wheat berries – simply amazing!


pastiera napoletana best neapolitan ricotta wheat berrye aster pie cake

Pastiera (pron. Puhss-tee-A-ruh) is a classic Easter pie, especially in Naples area, and is usually made on spring time but nowadays you can find it in restaurants or pastry shops all year around.

This cake – dated back to the ‘700 in Gregorio Armeno convent in Naples – is easy to make especially if you follow my instructions (and secrets) step by step although it takes time and planning – the most dedicated of pastiera bakers insist that it should take at least 3 days to make it (from Maundy Thursday to Holy Saturday) – but there really isn’t much “work time” – just more “wait time” and the end result is well worth every minute you spend on it, trust me!

Today’s post isn’t just a recipe. It’s a lesson.
And I’ve really made some effort to keep this post from being too long, but I really want you to make this, so I’m guiding you through every single visual-step with photos so you know exactly what you are doing.

You’re not convinced to make it yet, right?

I really want you to challenge yourself and making this pie that tastes SO UNBELIEVABLY GOOD from scratch and of course even for the pleasure of making something remarkable, traditional and timeless.

Do you really want to miss this beauty???

pastiera authentic italian ricotta berry pie cake

No, you don’t, right? So let’s keep reading this TO-DIE-FOR recipe and I promise you’ll be so amazed by this pie that even a Neapolitan wouldn’t believe you made it. – Yes, you read that right.
By making this pie you may say you’re italian and you will fool even an italian – on condition that you won’t let your english accent to be heard, of course!

I searched and tested several recipes before finding THE ONE. Every family has their own recipe and along the italian boot you can find millions of variations. The latest (newest) ways of preparing pastiera is by using custard (instead of just eggs) to make the filling softer and wetter, but I’m not in favor of that, it would change too much the tradition and you know how much I love keeping heritage alive! And BTW, if you do in the right way the classic recipe you still have a soft and moist filling.
(10/04/2015 update: in all Penisola Sorrentina, not in Naples, it’s tradition to use pastry cream in the Pastiera filling, this dated back to about 100+ years.)

What I did is finding the most traditional homestyle recipe and adapting it to a modern palate. The result is a comfort and tasty pie crust (called “pasta frolla” in italian) filled with whole wheat berries cooked in milk, half “creamied up” with a mixer for a softer consistency – so you don’t have a too crunchy and crumbly texture – mixed with ricotta, eggs, sugar, candied citron, a mix of spices and the typical “springy” scent of orange blossom.

Pastiera Napoletana – Authentic Neapolitan Ricotta and Wheat Berry Easter Pie

Difficulty: medium
Preparation: 1 1/2 hour = 20 minutes for the Pie Crust + 60 minutes for the filling
Cooking Time: 90 minutes
Yield: 12-16 servings (one 30cm / 12inch ø pie or two 22cm / 9inch ø pies)

INGREDIENTS:

Pie Crust or “Pasta Frolla”

  • 500 gr / 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 200 gr / 7 oz / 2 sticks lard/butter at room temperature (tradition says lard for longer shelf life)
  • 200 gr / 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 yolk
  • 1 lemon zest (only the yellow part of the lemon, not the bitter white one)

Ricotta and Wheat Berry filling

  • 550 gr / 1.2 lbs cooked wheat berries* (“cooked grain” or “grano cotto“)
  • 400 ml / 1+3/4 cups whole cow’s milk
  • 40 gr / 3 tbsp butter
  • a pinch of salt
  • 600 gr / 1.4 lbs sheeps’s ricotta (or at least a mix with cow)
  • 500 gr to 600 gr / 2 to 2.5 cups granulated sugar (I use 500 gr –  ≈ 2 full cups)
  • 7 medium eggs
  • 1 orange zest or 5-8 drops of pure Sweet Orange essential oil (organic!!!)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 3-4 tbsp orange blossom water or 4 gr orange blossom flavouring or 8-10 drops of pure Neroli essential oil (organic)
  • 70 gr / 1/2 cup chopped candied citron** – I don’t recommend getting the waxy, artificially coloured stuff…

Garnish

  • powdered sugar / icing sugar

cooked wheat berriesif you cannot find cooked wheat berries: put 200 gr / 7 oz uncooked wheat berries in a bowl covered with water for 3 days – changing water twice a day to clean them. Drain and rinse under cold water then simmer for about 1 1/2 hours without stirring, until soft. Drain and reserve until needed (cooked wheat berries can be stored in the fridge for a week).

** if you don’t like eating chopped candied fruits just leave them out or mix them along with half wheat berries. I prefer the latter because the taste of candied fruits give a boost to the pie and you won’t feel their presence.

INSTRUCTIONS

DAY 1 (Maundy Thursday) – 30 minutes

In a heavy bottomed saucepan place the cooked wheat berries with butter, milk and a pinch of salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally (to avoid the berries from sticking onto the bottom of the pan) until it becomes thick and creamy like oatmeal, about 30 minutes.
Let it cool then place in a cool and dry place covered (OUTSIDE the fridge) for about 12 hours.

wheat berry milk butter

(I used a Thermo mixer that helped me in the cooking)

wheat berry milk

(I used a Thermo mixer that helped me in the cooking)

In the meanwhile, mix well ricotta with sugar.

ricotta sugar

Place this creamy mixture in a clean* cotton cloth and store in the fridge for about 12 hours (*do not use fabric softener on the cloth!).
That’s the SECRET that neapolitan grandmothers always used to do to drain ricotta from water. (IMPORTANT STEP)

ricotta inside cloth ricotta enclosed cloth

DAY 2 (Good Friday) – 50 minutes

To make the Pie Crust

Place in a bowl flour, sugar, butter/lard and lemon zest and combine with a fork or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal – you can do this by using a food processor for about 15 seconds.

pie crust ingredients lard butter lemon zest pastry blender cutter butter flour

Add 3 medium eggs and 1 yolk and mix JUST until the dough is uniform and holds together.

pie crust dough orange eggs

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the dough into two pieces one larger than the other.

pie dough ball cut

Cover both with plastic wrap and refrigerate before using (this will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour) – you can do this passage on DAY 1 if you want.

pie crust balls plastic wrap

To make the filling

Remove ricotta from the cloth and put it in a bowl.
It should look dry like that.

dry ricotta cotton cloth pastiera secret

Add eggs, cinnamon (optional), vanilla and orange blossom flavouring and stir until all is mixed well – do not over beat! – freshly beaten eggs will make the filling rise while cooking then sink when cooled, presenting a hollow and some cracking on top and you don’t want that, right?

ricotta orange eggs vanilla cinnamon mixed ricotta eggs pastiera pie

In a mixer, blend half the amout of wheat berries – this will ensure a creamier filling. As I said before, if you don’t like eating pieces of candied citron you can blend them now with wheat berries – but tradition says to use them whole.

blender wheat berries candied citron wheat berry

Add wheat berries (whole and mixed) to the (yellow) ricotta mixture along with finely chopped candied citron if you don’t have mixed it before.

To make Pastiera Napoletana

Preheat the oven to 325° F (165° C – gas mark 3) and place oven rack in the center of the oven.

Remove the larger pie dough from the fridge and place it on a wax/baking paper.

Put another wax/baking paper over the dough – to prevent the pastry from sticking to the rolling pin and to ensure uniform thickness – and roll the pastry into a 14 inch (36 cm) circle – about 1/8 – 1/4 inch (0,3 – 0,5 cm) thick.

pie crust rolling pin easy rolled pie crust baking paper

Gently remove the first wax/baking paper and transfer the dough to a 12 inch (30cm) greased springform pan (you can leave the second baking paper, your choice).

remove baking paper rolled pie crust

rolled pasta frolla pie crust pastiera pan pie crust pasta frolla pan

Make sure that the height of the edge has to be 2.5 inch (6 cm) – if the pie is shorter pastiera would be drier while if it’s taller pastiera would be too moist, so that’s the best height for a good pastiera.

holes pie crust pan pasta frolla

Poke holes with a toothpick or a fork all over the pie. This will prevent air pockets during the cooking.

Put the filling onto the pastry base.

filling pie crust pastiera

Remove from the fridge the remaining dough ball and roll out the pastry using the wax/baking paper method used before.

With a pastry wheel cut 5 long strips 1.5 inch (4cm) wide (this width is a peculiarity of pastiera) – usually narrower strips are used for fruit tarts.

If room temperature is a bit hot and it’s messing up the working of the pastry dough, you can help to chill the dough by putting some ice bags on it, before removing the baking paper.

pie crust ice

Using an offset spatula, gently transfer the strips to the pie: lay them across the top of the pie to form a criss cross diamond pattern (not square) (2 strips under and 3 over).

pie crust pasta frolla strips

Trim the edges of the strips to fit the pan then lightly press the pastry around the edges to seal.

Now, if you want, you can brush the pastry gently with some egg wash (whisk one egg with 1tbsp milk or cream) to make it shiny like those pastieras sold in bakeries.

Bake Pastiera for about 90 minutes at 325°F (165°C – gas mark 3) until the crust is golden and the filling is amber-brown on top.

It’s important, though, not to open the oven door while it’s baking (or at least for the first 45 minutes) as the batter may collapse.

The long cooking time at low temperature allow pastiera to cook evenly and to remain lightly moist inside – this will also ensure a longer shelf life.

When Pastiera is baked, turn off the oven, open the oven door and leave the pie in the turned off oven for about 15 minutes.

When it’s cooled, store Pastiera in its pan covered with plastic wrap in a cool place (room temperature), DO NOT refrigerate (if you’re not living in the caribbean of course).

pastiera out oven easter

Try with all your self control to wait until 2 days before eating a slice.

DAY 3 (Holy Saturday)

Wait…. I know, waiting is torture. Pure torture.
But if you can wait, this delicious “springy” parfumed pie is even more flavourful and moist on day 3 or 4 – heavenly I say.
It takes A LOT of willpower, so ummm… you definitely don’t have to wait…. but resting time allow flavours and spices to mingle nicely, so have a try….

DAY 4 (Easter)

Dust neapolitan pastiera with a bit of powdered sugar and…… here it is, the Majesty Queen Pastiera Napoletana ready to be devoured!

pastiera napoletana best ricotta easter pie

Pastiera can be stored at room temperature (covered with plastic wrap) for about 5 days, although I have never had one last that long.

neapolitan pastiera easter pie

You can even freeze it and when you want to eat it just thaw the pie out (or a slice) and leave it – well covered – at room temperature (do not microwave). It will be like fresh-made.

pastiera authentic italian ricotta berry pie cake

Pastiera Napoletana pie is totally not bikini friendly, I know, but totally worth every bite and BTW your mind would be so grateful, this is what’s really important (at least make it once a year!). And as I always say, let’s put us on a diet tomorrow, not today!

best pastiera italian pie closeup

MORE TECHNICAL INFORMATION FOR PASTIERA EXPERTS:

If you follow the recipe above, you’ll turn out to have a perfect Pastiera but if you want to make some changes you need to know several things to help you out.

You need to balance liquids and solids to obtain good results so:

  • if ricotta is too wet you need to use drier wheat berries (they need to have absorbed all the liquid when cooked in milk);
  • if ricotta is dry you need to use creamy wheat berries (not overcooked in milk);
  • the batter needs to be creamy (a bit thick) – if it’s too liquid you need to add eggs – so, when cooked, they create a retaining structure and the pie won’t droop in the middle.

authentic italian ricotta pie naples Other related recipes you may like:

best italian cheesecake ricotta mascarpone fluffy soft Authentic Italian Cheesecake (Torta di Ricotta e Mascarpone)

authentic gelatin-free panna cotta best perfect italian Piedmont Authentic Gelatin-Free Panna Cotta

tenerina pie cake best italian ferrara chocolate tender heart Tenerina: tender, rich and delicate chocolate pie

Pastiera Napoletana and its Secrets - Authentic Neapolitan Ricotta and Wheat Berry Easter Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Pastiera Napoletana is one of the most delicious "springy" Neapolitan cake known for its crispy crust and its insanely addictive perfumed filling that is rich and soft but grainy like a rice pudding, simply amazing! - Please read through the recipe in full before beginning.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 12-16
Ingredients
Pie Crust or "Pasta Frolla"
  • 500 gr / 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 200 gr / 7 oz / 2 sticks lard/butter at room temperature (traditions says lard for longer shelf life)
  • 200 gr / 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 yolk
  • 1 lemon zest (only the yellow part of the lemon, not the bitter white part)
Ricotta and Wheat Berry filling
  • 550 gr / 1.2 lbs cooked wheat berries
  • 400 ml / 1+3/4 cups whole cow's milk
  • 40 gr / 3 tbsp butter
  • a pinch of salt
  • --
  • 600 gr / 1.4lbs sheep's ricotta
  • 500 gr to 600 gr / 2 to 2.5 cups granulated sugar (I use 500 gr - ≈ 2 full cups)
  • --
  • 7 medium eggs
  • 1 orange zest or 5-8 drops of pure Sweet Orange essential oil (organic)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 3-4 tbsp orange blossom water or 4 gr orange blossom flavouring or 6-8 drops of pure Neroli essential oil (organic)
  • 70 gr / ½ cup chopped candied citron
Garnish
  • Powdered sugar
Instructions
DAY 1 (Maundy Thursday) - 30 minutes
  1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan place the cooked wheat berries with butter, milk and a pinch of salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally (to avoid the berries from sticking onto the bottom of the pan) until it becomes thick and creamy like oatmeal, about 30 minutes.
  2. Let it cool then place in a cool and dry place covered (OUTSIDE the fridge) for about 12 hours.
  3. In the meanwhile, mix ricotta with sugar. Place this creamy mixture in a clean* cotton cloth and store in the fridge for about 12 hours (*do not use fabric softener on the cloth!). (IMPORTANT STEP)
DAY 2 (Good Friday) - 50 minutes
To make the Pie Crust
  1. Place in a bowl flour, sugar, butter/lard and lemon zest and combine with a fork or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal - you can do this by using a food processor for about 15 seconds.
  2. Add 3 medium eggs and 1 yolk and mix JUST until the dough is uniform and holds together.
  3. Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball.
  4. Divide the dough into two pieces one larger than the other. Cover both with plastic wrap and refrigerate before using (this will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour) - you can do this passage on DAY 1 if you want.
To make the filling
  1. Remove ricotta from the cloth and put it in a bowl.
  2. Add eggs, cinnamon (optional), vanilla and orange blossom flavouring and stir until all is mixed well - do not over beat!
  3. In a mixer, blend half the amout of wheat berries (and citron if you like) - this will ensure a creamier filling.
  4. Add wheat berries (whole and mixed) to the ricotta mixture along with finely chopped candied citron if you don't have mixed it before.
To make Pastiera Napoletana
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F (165° C - gas mark 3) and place oven rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Remove the larger pie dough from the fridge and place it on a wax/baking paper.
  3. Put another wax/baking paper over the dough - to prevent the pastry from sticking to the rolling pin and to ensure uniform thickness - and roll the pastry into a 14 inch (36 cm) circle - about ⅛ - ¼ inch (0,3 - 0,5 cm) thick.
  4. Gently remove the first wax/baking paper and transfer the dough to a 12 inch (30cm) greased springform pan (you can leave the second baking paper, your choice).
  5. Make sure that the height of the edge has to be 2.5 inch (6 cm).
  6. Poke holes with a toothpick or a fork all over the pie. This will prevent air pockets during the cooking.
  7. Put the filling onto the pastry base.
  8. Remove from the fridge the remaining dough ball and roll out the pastry using the wax/baking paper method used before.
  9. With a pastry wheel cut 5 long strips 1.5 inch (4cm) wide (this width is a peculiarity of pastiera) - usually narrower strips are used for fruit tarts.
  10. Using an offset spatula, gently transfer the strips to the pie: lay them across the top of the pie to form a criss cross diamond pattern (not square) (2 strips under and 3 over).
  11. Trim the edges of the strips to fit the pan then lightly press the pastry around the edges to seal.
  12. Now, if you want, you can brush the pastry gently with some egg wash (whisk one egg with 1tbsp milk or cream) to make it shiny like those pastieras sold in bakeries.
  13. Bake Pastiera for about 90 minutes at 325°F (165°C - gas mark 3) until the crust is golden and the filling is amber-brown on top.
  14. When Pastiera is baked, turn off the oven, open the oven door and leave the pie in the turned off oven for about 15 minutes.
  15. When it's cooled, store Pastiera in its pan covered with plastic wrap in a cool place (room temperature), DO NOT refrigerate (if you're not living in the caribbean of course).
  16. Try with all your self control to wait until 2 days before eating a slice.
DAY 3 (Holy Saturday)
  1. Wait
DAY 4 (Easter)
  1. Dust neapolitan pastiera with a bit of powdered sugar and...... here it is, the Majesty Queen Pastiera Napoletana ready to be devoured!
Notes
If you don't like eating chopped candied fruits just leave them out or mix them along with half wheat berries. I prefer the latter because the taste of candied fruits give a boost to the pie and you won't feel their presence.
Do not open the oven door while it's baking (or at least for the first 45 minutes) as the batter may collapse.

Pastiera can be stored at room temperature (covered with plastic wrap) for about 5 days.

You can even freeze it and when you want to eat it just thaw the pie out (or a slice) and leave it - well covered - at room temperature (do not microwave). It will be like fresh-made.

Ultimate Best Authentic Bolognese Sauce – the Great Italian Sauce!

AUTHENTIC BOLOGNESE SAUCE

You know that I’m always searching for best/perfect recipes, don’t you? Well, I’ve already told you in my Best Authentic Bolognese Sauce post what my favourite sauce for pasta was and I thought that my Mom’s Ragù was the best recipe ever, but recently I tried another one, just out of curiosity and to confirm my theory, and I was literally amazed!


ultimate best authentic bolognese sauce

This recipe is so perfect, rich and so delicious that I’m asking how couldn’t I ever imagined that? I tried many other recipes but no one satisfied me more than my mom’s recipe even if those were made by great grandmothers.

Now, look at the photo below… do I need to add more words to convince you???

authentic best tagliatelle bolognese sauce

Another reason why I was skeptical before trying this recipe is because it does not contain garlic. And I love garlic in Bolognese Sauce, it gives a wonderful taste. But this recipe is so tasty itself and is balanced in every part of it. So, garlic lovers, before adding some garlic, taste the sauce with pasta (not alone).

This Great Authentic Bolognese Sauce is heavier (more fats) than other recipes I shared with you, but worth everything, even your bikini, trust me. Next time you’ll make Tagliatelle you’ll want to try this one, really!

This is very simple to make too, just few easy steps and some time at home, but you don’t have to look constantly at the stove so you can do other things while it cooks.

best authentic bolognese sauce delicious

I use this recipe just for special occasions, such as when I have guests or on special Sundays, while for “daily” lunchtime I always use my Mom’s recipe because it’s “healthier” (if a Bolognese sauce can be called that ahah!) and has less fats so I can continue in following my diet. That’s why I don’t remove this recipe from the blog, because is still valuable.

best italian tagliatelle bolognese sauce

As I told you before in the other post, the secret for a special Bolognese Sauce, that we (italians) call Ragù (pron. Ruh-goo), is the long cooking time, 6 hours are best.

Yes, it can be ready after 2 hours but it will be just a sauce with some meat in it and very very bland.

People say that the habit of cooking meat for long hours is given by the fact that many years ago it was very tough, so long cooking times ensured a better tenderness to the meat, but I do not agree with that because when a Bolognese Sauce is cooked for at least 4 hours (or as I suggest 6), the meat along with olive oil, vegetables and tomato perfectly combine together to form a unique mouth-watering sauce, so there’s really a huge difference in the taste, not just in tenderness (the pictures below show the difference).

best bolognese sauce before

After 2 hours of cooking the sauce is watery, bland and the meat is whitish.

best bolognese sauce long hours

After 6 hours of cooking the sauce is dense and full of taste!

So this is the best Bolognese Sauce recipe I have ever ever ever eaten, period. If you know another recipe that is better than this one (I’m a bit skeptical but..), please let me know!!! It would be another huge discovery!

Enough said, now let’s move to the recipe!

italian grandma tagliatelle bolognese sauce

Ultimate Best Authentic Bolognese Sauce *

* (adapted from Beniamino Baleotti’s Ragù alla Bolognese recipe, he works as a cook at Agriturismo Le Ginestre in Pianoro (Bologna). If you ever plan to go near there make sure to visit him and have a traditional lunch there or make a pasta course, he speaks Japaneese too! I made some adjustments to his recipe such as swapped out lard for butter, because for me the first one gives a too piggy taste.)

Difficulty: easy
Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 4-6 hours
Yield: 6-7 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500 gr / 1lb / 18 oz ground quality beef (94% lean if possible)
  • 300 gr / 2/3 lb / 10 oz ground quality lean pork meat (chuck/shoulder or loin)
  • 200 gr / 1/2 lb / 7 oz ground pork belly (skinned, raw/no seasoned)
  • 450 gr / 16 oz / 4 1/2 cups soffritto vegetables OR 2 medium onions, 3 carrots and 2 celery stalks finely chopped
  • 150 ml  / 2/3 cup red wine (no bubbles)
  • 600 gr / 1 1/4 lbs / 20 oz plain tomato sauce
  • 2 sage leaf
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • kosher salt to taste

Instructions:

Heat oil and butter in a heavy, bottomed pot and fry ground pork belly until it’s brown and crispy (about 8-10 minutes).

Don’t skip this passage, it’s the key for a tasty sauce!!!

butter olive oil bolognese sauce

pancetta pork belly bolognese sauce

crispy pork belly bolognese sauce

crispy pancetta bolognese sauce closeup

Crispy pork belly

Add vegetables and fry them for about 10 minutes until they start to soften and color a bit (so vegetables are more savoury and sweet), scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally.

soffritto bolognese sauce

Mine were frozen

soffritto pork belly bolognese sauce

Add the remaining ground meat, breaking it up with a fork and cook until it’s browned all over (5-10 minutes) and all the water, that the meat releases, is evaporated.

soffritto pork belly meat bolognese sauce

seared meat bolognese sauce

Add red wine, give a stir and let the liquid reduce for 2-3 minutes or until you no longer smell alcohol.

red wine best bolognese sauce

Add tomato sauce, sage, bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and cover the meat with some water.

tomato authentic bolognese sauce

Partially cover with a lid and simmer Ragù for at least 4 hours (6 is better), stirring occasionally (about every 1 1/2 hours). During that time, if you see that the sauce is drying to much add some water (not at the end of the cooking time though!).

Here’s a photo of the sauce after just 2 hours of cooking (watery and bland).

best bolognese sauce before closeup

That’s how the sauce has to look like after 6 hours of cooking:

best bolognese sauce after closeup

As you have read, there’re just few steps to follow. It’s not complicated at all, so on the next rainy Sunday have a try and let me know if it’s your best italian Bolognese Sauce recipe too! And don’t forget that Ragú can be used with every kind of pasta, not just Tagliatelle!

italian ragu bolognese sauce perfect tagliatelle

ultimate great authentic italian pasta sauce mouth watering tagliatelle bolognese sauce

Ultimate Best Authentic Bolognese Sauce - the Great Italian Sauce!
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
The most delicious and authentic Bolognese sauce ever.
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500 gr / 1lb / 18 oz ground quality beef (94% lean if possible)
  • 300 gr / ⅔ lb / 10 oz ground quality lean pork meat (chuck/shoulder or loin)
  • 200 gr / ½ lb / 7 oz ground pork belly (skinned, raw/no seasoned)
  • 450 gr / 16 oz / 4½ cups soffritto vegetables OR 2 medium onions, 3 carrots and 2 celery stalks finely chopped
  • 150 ml / ⅔ cup red wine (no bubbles)
  • 600 gr / 1¼ lbs / 20 oz plain tomato sauce
  • 2 sage leaf
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • kosher salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oil and butter in a heavy, bottomed pot and fry ground pork belly until it's brown and crispy (about 8-10 minutes).
  2. Add vegetables and fry them for about 10 minutes until they start to soften and color a bit (so vegetables are more savoury and sweet), scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally.
  3. Add the remaining ground meat, breaking it up with a fork and cook until it's browned all over (5-10 minutes) and all the water, that the meat releases, is evaporated.
  4. Add red wine, give a stir and let the liquid reduce for 2-3 minutes or until you no longer smell alcohol.
  5. Add tomato sauce, sage, bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and cover the meat with some water.
  6. Partially cover with a lid and simmer Ragù for at least 4 hours (6 is better), stirring occasionally (about every 1½ hours). During that time, if you see that the sauce is drying to much add some water (not at the end of the cooking time though!).

How to make Bell Peppers (Capsicum) digestible to everybody

Maybe not everybody knows that bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers or capsicum, are not very digestible, so even if they’re really good, contain high quantities of vitamin C and add great taste to dishes they can mess you up a nice evening! After a short explanation, I’ll tell you my secret tips to avoid this forever… yes, forever!




All these problems are due to bell peppers skin and two substances contained in them: Solanine and Flavin.

Solanine is a poison contained in all the members of the Solanaceae family (bell peppers, eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes…) and if ingested in big quantities can be really toxic to the body, but this substance tends to disappear gradually as the fruit arrives to the full maturity.

bell peppers digestion

Flavin is contained in the white inner part of the bell pepper and in the seeds, and once ingested it attaches to the stomach wall causing pain or heaviness.

The bell peppers skin is another reason that doesn’t make them very digestible because the intestine struggles to expel it, giving us a sense of puffiness, even for several days.

So the first things you need to do are:

– buy organic and well ripe fruits;
– cut off the white inner part and seeds of the fruit as well as the stem.

Now many of you would say: “yes, I always do this, she invented the wheel…”.
And then come the interesting part!

If you want to eat bell peppers raw, like in salads (mmmm I like them so much!) the only things to do are to cut off the skin and then wash the fruit (in that case you would need a thick bell pepper).
Many people boil the bell pepper for a minute and then plunge it into an ice bath to easily remove the skin. I tried this but the bell pepper taste came up again after 1 hour, so I cannot recommend this to you.

Otherwise, if you prefer bell peppers cooked, you shouldn’t remove the skin because as they cook they will shrink and above all you would remove all the flavors and vitamins that are mainly concentrated under the skin.

I read somewhere (I’m sorry but this happened years ago and I really don’t remember the source) that a secret for a digestible bell pepper is……….. a PEAR!

pear

Yes, just a little sweet pear. So when you start cooking you peppers, add a finely chopped pear (peeled and seeds cleaned).

To cook 3 bell peppers I use just half of a pear and it works as well!
This little amount of pear doesn’t make your dish too sweet, you would not even notice it at the end.

So let me know if this works for you too!

Roast Turkey: Italian tips for a moist tender and flavourful turkey

roast turkey – moist, tender and juicy

Thanksgiving is just around the corner so, why not planning to cook a delicious roast turkey the Italian way with my brine method and secret for a moist, tender and juicy turkey?

Yes, delicious, turkey and tender in the same sentence could sound a little bit strange, but anything is possible at Thanksgiving, right?


roast turkey moist tender secret italian

Oh and I promise you’ll love this recipe! It’s so hearty! My friends loved it and they begged me to give them all the leftovers… well, how couldn’t I?

I know that turkey is a bland meat and it has to be treated perfectly to become good so I read a lot about brine turkey with water, salt and apple cider but I was a bit afraid of putting too much salt in it so I came up with an age-old Italian trick that was used by our grandmothers to tenderize game meat…. baking soda!!!

I’m italian and I’ve never cooked a whole turkey in my life. It was a big tricky for me due to its big size…. and you know how italian kitchens are… small oven, small fridge…. it was 8 kg / 18 lbs and I was thinking to cut it in pieces, but finally I cooked it wholly, it was just the length of the oven… wow!

I put it breast side down and the worst part for me was turning the bird over to brown the breast as well…. it was tooo tender that I thought it would broke, but luckily my mother in law helped me and we were able to turned it over with no harm.
I really think that americans have an appropriate kitchen tool to do this, don’t they???

Roast Turkey: Italian tips for a moist tender and flavourful turkey

Difficulty: difficult
Preparation: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 3 hours
Yield: 10 servings or more

BRINE INGREDIENTS (for about 8 Kg / 18 lbs turkey):

  • 3 big rosemary sprigs
  • 8-10 sage leafs
  • few peppercorns to taste
  • 8 garlic cloves cut in half
  • 1/2 tbsp pure baking soda for each litres water / 2 tbsp pure baking soda for each gallon water

BRINE INSTRUCTIONS:

Put the bird in a large food box, cover with water and add all the ingredients. Close with a lid and leave the turkey with the mixture in the fridge for 24 hours.


SEASONING INGREDIENTS:

  • a handful of lard from rendered pork fat (called “strutto” in Italian) – you can use butter instead
  • 10 grams / 2 tsp for every kilo of meat (or 4 grams / 1 tsp for every pound of meat) of fine sea salt
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, 5 sage leaves and 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 north Italian sausages (pork meat seasoned just with salt, pepper, garlic and white wine) – about 200 grams – 1/2 pound
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 1/4 onion

SEASONING INSTRUCTIONS:

After about 24 hours, remove the turkey from the fridge and drain it well. Leave it at room temperature for at least 1 hour (2 is better).
Spread lard or butter all over the turkey. Season with salt and fresh herbs finely ground.

Stuff the turkey with two sausages, 3 garlic cloves cut in half, rosemary, sage, onion and one tbsp salt (these will flavour the turkey from the inside as it cooks).

Cover the cavity with aluminium foil so that the aromatics won’t fall out while you’re roasting the turkey and if you want to keep the wings and legs close to the body while cooking, truss the turkey with a food string.

Place the turkey breast down on a rack over a roasting pan. That way the breast will be more juicy.

Cook the turkey at 200°C for the first 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 160°C for the next 2 hours and then reduce to 100°C until it’s done. Consider 40 minutes for every kilo of meat or 15 minutes for every pound of meat.

When the turkey is almost done, turn the turkey over and put under the broiler for 5 minutes to brown the breast (not to much though! or you’ll have a dry turkey breast).

The turkey is ready when clear juices (not pink) come out when you spear the breast with a fork or a knife or when the meat thermometer reaches 75°C.

For the cooking time I followed the post on Simply Recipes Blog, where you can find useful pictures and information on how to tie and close up the turkey cavity.

turkey_moist_tender_best


STUFFING INGREDIENTS (for about 8 Kg / 18 lbs turkey)

  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 800 grams / 1.8 pounds north Italian sausages chopped and case removed (pork meat seasoned just with salt, pepper, garlic and white wine)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 200 grams / 7.0 ounces chestnuts
  • 200 grams / 7.0 ounces cranberries
  • 100 grams / 3 cups stale bread cubes (about 3/4 inch)
  • 5-8 fresh sage leaves finely chopped

STUFFING INSTRUCTIONS:

(I like to cook the stuffing into a pan and not into the turkey because the latter takes less time to cook)

Put in a large pan 3 tbsp of butter, a stalk of celery, one onion finely chopped and cook until soft.

Add north-italian sausages and cook until little brown.

Pour white wine and allow alcohol to evaporate, then add chestnuts, cranberries, stale bread cubes, sage leaves finely chopped and water as needed to cover all the ingredients and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Adjust with salt if needed.


 

GRAVY INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup onion, carrot and celery mix chopped fine
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter mixed with 2-3 tbsp flour (roux)
  • turkey stock/drippings as needed
GRAVY INSTRUCTIONS:
 

You can make this gravy during the last 20 minutes of the cooking time of the turkey.

In a sauce pan add 3 tbsp butter and sauté vegetables until soft. After about 3 minutes add white wine and let alcohol evaporate.
Cook vegetables until done (about 5 minutes), remove from heat and blend them with a mixer.

Add the roux (a mixture of equal part of flour and butter) and return the sauce pan to the stove on medium heat. Add some turkey stock/drippings as needed (not too much though because it’s salty) and some water to adjust the thickness as you prefer. If it’s too liquid, add more roux.

Cook for at least 5 minutes and it’s done!

I have to tell you that this gravy was soo good and it made the turkey meat really tasty, so it’s definitely a must for me!Serve the turkey on a serving plate with the chestnut stuffing, gravy and some good old fashioned mashed potatoes and it will be love at first bite!

roast turkey moist tender secret italian brine

Hope my tips could help you preparing a moist, tender and juicy turkey and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Roast Turkey: Italian tips for a moist tender and flavourful turkey
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian, American, English
Serves: 10
Ingredients
BRINE INGREDIENTS (for about 8 Kg / 18 lbs turkey)
  • 3 big rosemary sprigs
  • 8-10 sage leafs
  • few peppercorns to taste
  • 8 garlic cloves cut in half
  • ½ tbsp pure baking soda for each litres water / 2 tbsp pure baking soda for each gallon water
SEASONING INGREDIENTS:
  • a handful of lard from rendered pork fat (called "strutto" in Italian) - you can use butter instead
  • 10 grams / 2 tsp for every kilo of meat (or 4 grams / 1 tsp for every pound of meat) of fine sea salt
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, 5 sage leaves and 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 north Italian sausages (pork meat seasoned just with salt, pepper, garlic and white wine) - about 200 grams - ½ pound
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 4 sage leaves
  • ¼ onion
STUFFING INGREDIENTS (for about 8 Kg / 18 lbs turkey)
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 800 grams / 1.8 pounds north Italian sausages chopped and case removed (pork meat seasoned just with salt, pepper, garlic and white wine)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 200 grams / 7.0 ounces chestnuts
  • 200 grams / 7.0 ounces cranberries
  • 100 grams / 3 cups stale bread cubes (about ¾ inch)
  • 5-8 fresh sage leaves finely chopped
GRAVY INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup onion, carrot and celery mix chopped fine
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter mixed with 2-3 tbsp flour (roux)
  • turkey stock/drippings as needed
Instructions
BRINE INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Put the bird in a large food box, cover with water and add all the ingredients. Close with a lid and leave the turkey with the mixture in the fridge for 24 hours.
SEASONING INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. After about 24 hours, remove the turkey from the fridge and drain it well. Leave it at room temperature for at least 1 hour (2 is better).
  2. Spread lard or butter all over the turkey. Season with salt and fresh herbs finely ground.
  3. Stuff the turkey with two sausages, 3 garlic cloves cut in half, rosemary, sage, onion and one tbsp salt (these will flavour the turkey from the inside as it cooks).
  4. Cover the cavity with aluminium foil so that the aromatics won't fall out while you're roasting the turkey and if you want to keep the wings and legs close to the body while cooking, truss the turkey with a food string.
  5. Place the turkey breast down on a rack over a roasting pan. That way the breast will be more juicy.
  6. Cook the turkey at 200°C for the first 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 160°C for the next 2 hours and then reduce to 100°C until it's done. Consider 40 minutes for every kilo of meat or 15 minutes for every pound of meat.
  7. When the turkey is almost done, turn the turkey over and put under the broiler for 5 minutes to brown the breast (not to much though! or you'll have a dry turkey breast).
  8. The turkey is ready when clear juices (not pink) come out when you spear the breast with a fork or a knife or when the meat thermometer reaches 75°C.
STUFFING INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Put in a large pan 3 tbsp of butter, a stalk of celery, one onion finely chopped and cook until soft.
  2. Add north-italian sausages and cook until little brown.
  3. Pour white wine and allow alcohol to evaporate, then add chestnuts, cranberries, stale bread cubes, sage leaves finely chopped and water as needed to cover all the ingredients and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Adjust with salt if needed.
GRAVY INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. You can make this gravy during the last 20 minutes of the cooking time of the turkey.
  2. In a sauce pan add 3 tbsp butter and sauté vegetables until soft. After about 3 minutes add white wine and let alcohol evaporate.
  3. Cook vegetables until done (about 5 minutes), remove from heat and blend them with a mixer.
  4. Add the roux (a mixture of equal part of flour and butter) and return the sauce pan to the stove on medium heat. Add some turkey stock/drippings as needed (not too much though because it's salty) and some water to adjust the thickness as you prefer. If it's too liquid, add more roux.
  5. Cook for at least 5 minutes and it's done!
  6. Serve the turkey on a serving plate with the chestnut stuffing, gravy and some good old fashioned mashed potatoes and it will be love at first bite!