Saturday, March 17, 2012

Liver Tastes Better With Tajarin

Fig.1. Tagliatelli with liver, veal and rosemary. A very Northern Italian dish.  Liver never tasted so good.

One of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever sampled happened in the City of Alba. Alba is located in The Piedmonte region of Northern Italy.  A region well known for wines, such as Barrolo and Asti, cheeses such as Robiola and Gorgonzola, and as being the birthplace of Nutella.  But the region of Piedmonte is also home to ‘Tajarin’.
Tajarin is simply the Langhe dialect for tagliatelli; but the tagliatelli in this region differ slightly than the rest of Italy because of two things: size and color.  Tajarin are traditionally cut with a knife and a little smaller in width than tagliatelli, they are also only made with egg yolks thus giving the dough a very distinct amber color; a tint which only the deep, orange egg yolks of Italy can inflict.
In Northern Italy, Tajarin is often served with a simple sauce of olive oil and shaved white truffles, but I once was served Tajarin with a liver and veal sauce, and it turned out to be a dish that has become embedded in my hippocampus. 

Fig.2. Next day's lunch.

Tajarin Con Fegato, Vitello e Rosemarino
Tajarin With Liver, Veal and Rosemary
Serves 4
I know most packages of Italian 00 flour says that it’s flour better suited for pastries and cakes, but trust me, most cooks in Northern Italy use it to make their pasta, according to them 00 flour in their pasta results in a more tender noodle.

250 Grams Tajarin or Tagliatelli (available in most Italian specialty shops. You can also use linguine or any pasta for that matter.)
3 tbsp good olive oil
5 tbsp butter
1 large onion, finely diced
4 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
250g ground veal
6 to 7 chicken livers, chopped fine
1 cup white wine
3 to 4 cups chicken or beef stock
Salt and Pepper

Add the olive oil and butter to a large pan set over medium heat.  Once hot, add the onions and rosemary and cook slowly until onions are translucent, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Add the veal and liver stirring often to ensure that the meat breaks apart into fine pieces.  Cook until meat is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.  Turn your heat to high and add the wine.  Cook until wine completely evaporates, turn the heat back to medium and add 2 cups of broth.  Bring to a simmer and cook until broth completely evaporates.  Once the broth evaporates, add the remaining broth, simmer, and using a wooden spoon, scrape any fond that forms on the bottom of the pan until broth is reduced by half.  Season with salt and pepper if desired and serve with some freshly grated parmesan.

Note: This is a slow dish inspired by Eugenia De Marchi, aka: Nonna Gennia.  The complete evaporation concentrates the flavor because the salts and sugars in the wine and broth become a fond which sticks to the bottom of the pan.  The last addition of broth, and a good scraping at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, releases all the flavor back into the sauce.