“I started cooking because I was really into it, then I studied I.T. at university and I became passionate about being in the kitchen.
I’ve been lucky enough to find amazing mentors such as Luca Marin at Il Santo Bevitore and Giovanna Iorio at Alle Murate.
It can be tricky because we do have a focus on wine at Osteria dell’Enoteca, but wine is a very personal thing. There are definitely certain dishes that go well with certain wines, but in the end the customer chooses what they’d like to drink. Pairing wine with a dish is a difficult thing to do if you don’t do a tasting menu. You can’t force anyone to drink a certain wine with certain food. For this lamb recipe, I chose Chianti Classico Riserva 2011 from Antico Podere Casanova “Bucciarelli” because I think they go well together; let’s say that this dish was created with this wine in mind.
We do four menus a year that correspond with the seasons and our current menu has just changed. Lamb with artichokes is perfect for this time of the year and all the other dishes will conjure up the idea of spring too. As produce changes towards the summer, we’ll alter our menu again.
Bistecca is an important part of Tuscan cuisine and a mainstay at our restaurant. The quality of the meat is more important than how you cook it; after all, you grill the steak and there’s little margin for modifications. We have the Fiorentina all year round, because you can eat it in the summer or in the winter, but we often change the side dishes. Out of our curiosity and passion for meats we regularly choose steaks from specialty breeds of cattle, such as Fassona from Piedmont and even Irish Angus and Prussian cuts.
Three of us work in the kitchen, then there’s the front-of-house staff. We eat together before service and we even spend time together on our days off, like a family.
Braised lamb with roasted artichokes
by Nicola Chiappi
This recipe can be prepared up to two days in advance. You can allow the lamb and artichokes to cool, then keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
800 g lamb shoulder or thigh, boned and chopped into 1-inch cubes / 4 whole fresh artichokes / 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped / 1 yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped / 1 sprig of fresh thyme (more for garnish if desired), finely chopped / 1 small bunch of parsley, chopped / 1 cup dry red wine / 1 liter beef broth (vegetable broth or water can be used instead) / ½ tsp tomato paste / 1 tsp sweet paprika / Extra-virgin olive oil / Salt and pepper to taste
Choose a steel pot, with a cover, large enough to contain all of the lamb plus cooking liquid. Add approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot, just enough to cover the entire base. Over high heat, when the oil starts to smoke, add the cubes of lamb and sear all over. If you need to do this in batches, that’s ok. Once each side is nicely colored, remove from the pan and set aside. Spoon out any remaining oil while trying to retain the burnt bits of lamb in the pot.
Sauté the chopped garlic, onion and thyme over medium heat until the onion is transparent. Return the seared lamb cubes to the pan and pour in the red wine. Stir over high heat until all of the wine is evaporated. Add the sweet paprika and the tomato paste, and stir.
Lower the heat and pour in about a cup of broth at a time. (This will be very similar to making risotto, add a cup and stir a little, cover and wait a few minutes. Check the pot often and add a little more broth as it evaporates.) This should continue for 30 to 45 minutes until the lamb is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
While the lamb is cooking, start preparing the artichokes. Clean all four artichokes, removing the spikes and cutting them in half. In a large pot or saucepan add olive oil, 1 whole clove of garlic and the chopped parsley, then the artichokes. Sprinkle with salt. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the heart is tender when cut with a knife. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Place the halved cooked artichokes on a sheet pan, drizzle with oil and cook for 3 minutes, or until browned. If lamb has been stored in the fridge, reheat. In a shallow bowl spoon the stewed lamb first, then top with the artichokes. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh thyme.”
This dish would pair well with Chianti Classico Riserva 2011 from Antico Podere Casanova “Bucciarelli”. The nose has deep red fruits with notes of violets, leather and bitter chocolate. On the palate the tannins and acidity are well integrated, which complement the lamb without overpowering it.
This lamb dish is available for 18 euro and the Chianti Classico Riserva for 32 euro per bottle
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