- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2005

In the introduction to her cookbook “Italian Slow and Savory” (Chronicle) Joyce Goldstein tells how she went to live in Italy for a time and learned the wisdom of slowing down life.

That pace brings out the best in food, too, she says.

Looking back, she recalls how most Italians believe “meals prepared in the traditional way, using the best local and artisanal ingredients, with time as a major seasoning, are not only healthful but also infinitely more pleasurable and sustaining.”

When she’s in a rush, she says, her repertoire of fast and easy dishes serves well enough, but they are not the meals she remembers with the deep satisfaction that comes from the slowly made dishes.

So here’s the fruit of her experience: about 120 recipes for soups, stews, pasta sauces, braises, roasts and casseroles in a simply designed but stylish book that’s well-illustrated with Paolo Nobile’s color photos.

The recipes’ range is regionally and technically wide. Wild boar stew may be a dish few American home cooks will attempt, as opposed to pork stew with apples, seasoned with rosemary and chili pepper. Other recipes are as captivatingly simple as artichokes braised in citrus juices, slow-roasted onions and beef with pizza sauce.

Miss Goldstein, chef, teacher and specialist in Mediterranean cooking, lives in San Francisco and has written several other cookbooks.

Pastuccia, a polenta pie baked with sausages and raisins, is a specialty of the town of Teramo in the Abruzzi region, Miss Goldstein writes. “After testing this recipe, I decided to increase the amount of raisins because their texture and sweetness are a wonderful contrast to the meaty sausages, and they heighten the sweetness of the cornmeal.”

Pastuccia is rather filling if served as a first course, she says, but it makes a satisfying meal if accompanied by a salad or green vegetable.

Pastuccia(Polenta with sausage and raisins)

2 tablespoons olive oil or lard, plus olive oil for drizzling

1/4 pound pancetta (Italian bacon), diced

3/4 pound sweet sausages with or without fennel, casings removed and meat crumbled

2 cups polenta


1 cup golden raisins, plumped in hot water and drained

3 egg yolks

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil or grease a 10-inch-long gratin dish, a 12-inch pie dish or a 9-by-11-inch baking dish.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil or lard over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sausage, and saute until cooked through but not crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the polenta and 1 teaspoon salt. Gradually whisk in enough boiling water to make a very thick batter. Add the raisins, three-fourths of the pancetta and sausage, the egg yolks, and some pepper, and mix well. Pour into the prepared dish. Top evenly with the remaining pancetta and sausage, and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Bake the pie until the top is golden and the pancetta and sausage are crisp, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then serve. Makes 6 servings as a main course, 8 to 10 as a first course.


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