Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gift Idea and Acciughe al Verde for the Seven Fishes Feast

Just reminder if you need a last minute gift that you don't have to wrap and ship and will make a difference in someones' life be sure and have a look at Mercy Corps' Mercy Kits!
Choose between food, health, or garden kits and others that help people help themselves. Today the 18th is the last day to insure a gift card arrives in time for the holidays, but you can choose this option all year long. You choose the amount you want to spend and the gift will keep on giving long after the holiday season.



On another note,
I hate to miss a party, so even though I am down to the deadline with little time to spare, I did put a little something together for Maryann of Finding la Dolce Vita, and Joe of Italyville's, Seven Fishes Feast. Do head over and sample all the delectable dishes there and pick up a few ideas and recipes for your holiday celebrations!

The Feast of the Seven Fishes isn't generally celebrated up here in landlocked Piedmont, although fish is an important part of the Piemontese cuisine, especially anchovies. They are so very fond of them, fresh, marinate, fried and cooked in all sorts of dishes as that little subtle, or not, "je ne sais quois" element to the dish.
I found it peculiar that anchovies were such a frequent ingredient in so many of their regional dishes, especially as it it he main ingredient of the much beloved and somewhat revered, Bagna Cauda. We are 3 hours away form the coast, which is a heck of a lot closer to the coast than where I grew up, but I still was surprised by its popularity. When I came across the tale of salted anchovies arriving over the alps via the salt trail, it shed some historical light on the ardor of the locals for these small salty fish. As the tale goes, large barrels of generously salted anchovies were in actuality a lot more salt than anchovy. Salt was a such precious commodity back in the day and was quite heavily taxed by the state, that in true Italian fashion, clever people found a way to get more salt for less taxes paid. With an abundance of anchovy the addition of anchovy to many dishes came to be the norm. At least that is how the story was told to me.

Acciughe al Verde doesn't really go by a firm recipe, but there are a few tips.
You must use the best quality of anchovy that you can find. My in-laws, insist that it can only be salted anchovy. They are not fans of anchovy in jars, as they they say they aren't the true anchovy. They will use them in sauces where they will need to break down completely in the cooking, but not if they are going to retain their texture. I have to admit after having had my palate educated, I do agree with them as well. High quality, salted anchovy are a far cry from anything I have ever had that you buy in oil. I was never an anchovy fan until moving to Italy. I wrinkled my nose up as well, but once you have some done well, especially fresh ones, I think you might change your mind about this much maligned fish. Give them a go.


Acciughe al Verde
6 salted whole anchovies,
figure 1 -3 per person depending on your crowds ardour for them
2-3 garlic cloves, more if everyone is having them and loves garlic
fresh parsely, maybe a whole bunch
Extra virgin olive oil, a flavorful is nice
First clean your anchovies, by pulling the tail off and then run your knife or finger down the inside of the center of the fish pulling out the spine, keeping the two sides intact.
Place all of the fillets in a bowl and rinse a few times, ridding the rest of the odd bone or two left.
Let the fillets soak about an hour and rinse. If you let them soak too much or rinse them too thoroughly you lose some of the salty flavor that you want to keep.
Now place rinsed dry anchovies in a bowl.
Grate on a micro plane or mince very fine, you garlic into the anchovies.
Chop the parsley very fine and add.
Cover all with oil to make a nice saucy green mixture.
Adjust amounts as needed.
Cover and let sit overnight or up to three days.
Serve at room temperature, making sure to adjust garlic, parsley or salt as needed.
This sauce usually has a big garlic bite to it.
Best if everyone enjoys some at your dinner party for every one's sake!

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