As part of my New Years Resolution I am ramping up my Italian and trying my best to develop my skills to a more advanced level in preparation for the infamous C1 CILS Italian exam I plan to take in December. Luckily, I have been given lots of Italian themed gifts for Christmas which will help me along this journey.
One such gift is a lovely Italian cookbook (Le ricette della felicità by Benedetta Parodi) I received from my very kind Italian friend. I am going to be using this cookbook to not only enjoy some good Italian style food, but also learn some new Italian along the way. One of my favourite things in life is food so it will be very useful for me to have a better understanding of food and cooking vocabulary.
To use the recipe for language learning, I have chosen to the use the Transcription method I am testing as one of my January language goals. The basic idea is take a piece of Italian and translate into English. Then you wait until the Italian has faded from your memory, at which point you test yourself by trying to translate back into Italian. This helps clearly show you where you differ from the natural Italian expressions and improves the way you express yourself. A fantastic idea that I got from Katie at Joy of Languages (if you haven’t seen her site before definitely check it out).
I couldn’t simply choose one recipe and decided to combine two to make my desired meal; pistachio crusted lamb cutlets and fanned potatoes. It was absolutely delicious.
Interested in cooking this yourself? Well you are in luck. Below I have written out the recipe in English and Italian so you can try it yourself.
For the lamb
800g lamb cutlets
20g bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
For the potatoes
4 medium potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 hour – 4 people
Season the ribs rubbing the garlic cloves on the meat. Put the ribs in a casserole dish with the garlic, oil, sage and rosemary, and leave covered in the fridge for only 10 minutes, best for an hour.
Without peeling them, with a small knife make deep cuts at intervals of around 5mm for their entire length, without cutting all the way through: the potato must remain whole and open like a fan. The trick is to put a spacer under the knife, for example the handle of another knife, that blocks the blade so it won’t reach the bottom. Once ready, put them in a baking tray and spread the cuts gently so that they are not too tightly attached to each other.
Season with lots of salt and pepper. Add a little thyme, sage and rosemary into the cuts and sprinkle with the oil, trying to make it penetrate. Cook in an oven for 50 minutes around 180C.
Meanwhile, prepare the breading. Chop the pistachios, mix them with the bread crumbs and, for a fresh note, add the grated lemon zest. Bread the meat directly, by first putting meat in egg mixture, pressing firmly with your hands to form a good, compact crust.
Grease a baking tin with a little oil and cover with parchment paper, place the lamb, season each rib with another drizzle of oil and cook in a fan oven at 200C for 5-10 minutes, depending on whether you prefer still pink inside or well done.
Ricetta Italiana (Italian Recipe)
800g di costolette
80g di pistacchi
20g di pangrattato
2 spicchi di aglio
1 limone non trattato
Sale e pepe
Per le patate
4 patate medie
Sale e pepe
Un ora – 4 personi
Insaporire le costolette strofinando gli spicchi di aglio sulla carne. Mettere le costolette a marinare in una casseruola con l’aglio, l’olio, la salvia e il rosmarino e lasciare coperte in frigo anche solo per 10 minuti, meglio per un-oretta.
Senza sbucciarle, con un coltello affilato praticare dei tagli profondi a intervalli di circa 5mm per tutta la loro lunghezza, senza mai arrivare in fondo: la patata infatti deve rimanere intera e aprirsi come un ventaglio. Il trucco è mettere uno spessore sotto al coltello, per esempio il manico di un altro coltello, che blocchi la lama in modo che non arrivi fino in fondo. Una volta pronte, metterle su una teglia e allargare i tagli delicatamente in modo che non siano troppo attaccate tra loro.
Condire con abbondante sale e pepe. Inserire nei tagli un po’ di timo, salvia e rosmarino e irrorare con l’olio, cercando di farlo penetrare. Cuocere in forno per 50 minuti circa a 180 C.
Intanto preparare la panatura: tritare i pistacchi, mescolarli con il pangrattato e, per una nota di freschezza, aggiungere la scorza grattugiata del limone. Impanare la carne direttamente, senze passarla prima nell’uovo, premendo bene con le mani in modo che si formi una bella crosta compatta.
Ungere con un po’ di olio una teglia ricoperta di carta forno, sistemare l’agnello, condire ogni costoletta con un altro filo di olio e cuocere in forno ventilato a 200 C per 5-10 minuti, a seconda che si preferiscano ancora rosa all’interno o ben cotte.
Our oven isn’t the best so this actually took over two hours to cook and I had to resort to frying the lamb in the end as they weren’t cooking quickly enough, and we were starving! Next time I am going to microwave the potatoes in advance, like I normally would for a jacket potato. Then the centre will be soft and fluffy and the oven will just crispy up the outside skin and not burn like it has a little on mine.
I also added some green beans and mini kale so it wasn’t simply meat and potato on the plate. While I don’t mind a carb heavy plate my fiancèe prefers a more balanced meal, for some reason…
The words and phrases highlighted are those that I learnt which I am adding to my flashcard deck to memorise. I found it really interesting that in one recipe there were 2-3 different verbs for seasoning food. I love these kinds of things in new languages as it truly reflect the culture. Just as Icelandic has over 100 words for snow, due to the harsh weather conditions they are so accustomed to, Italians have multiple words for season because cooking is so deeply ingrained into their culture and language.
Another phrase I liked was from the abbreviation qb which means quanto basta. There isn’t really a natural English translation for this but it basically means to taste; literally enough quantity. In an English recipe they will usually specify an exam amount of herbs to use but the Italians prefer to just state qb and leave it to the chef to decide; which is the true art of cooking.
This kind of language activity doesn’t even feel like study and that’s why I think it’s so effective. Combining my love of food and Italian is a great way of keeping me motivated and seeing progression. Needless to say I will be trying this again. Now to decide on another recipe. Oh the choices!
My next steps will be waiting until next week when the memory has faded to see how well I can reproduce the Italian expressions. Then wait and repeat until I get a perfect score.
What do you think? Would you give this recipe a try? Let me know in the comments below. Also if you have any suggestions for recipes you would like me to try let me know as I am eager to do some more language learning cooking activities.
Ciao for now!