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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Annual Three Kings Redux

There is no real consensus on whether the visitors from the East on this day, celebrated as Epiphany in much of the Apostolic tradition, were kings, magi, wise men or wise guys, for that matter. This much we know: they gazed at the stars and came bearing gifts -- but they weren't Greek. The gifts were gold, frankincense and myrrh, all fit for a king. Here are three gifts for you, actually three fine men who are furnished with many gifts as anyone can see -- all fit for any king, pilfered from Blue.

There was a time when Sicily had emirs -- yes -- prior to the time of that other Norman invasion. Mary Taylor Simeti married a Sicilian man and went to live in his homeland. That experience produced a very informative book about the cuisine of the emerald of the Mediterranean. Within that book, Pomp and Sustenance, she tells grand tales of many recipes over many centuries of Sicilian food. That Moslem Arabs, a.k.a Saracens, had a very powerful influence is evident not only in the culture and the faces of the population but also in many of the island's culinary treasures.

Therefore, on this day what follows is a revision of a recipe from the era when the Saracens ruled Sicily -- a recipe from the Eastern end of the island.

Il Pasticcio di Mohammed Ibn Itmnah (Thummas), Emir of Catania

Chicken, 2 kilos -- any kind, any type
Virgin Olive Oil
Chicken Broth, a pint
Large round loaf of crusty Italian Bread, un pagnotto
Toasted Almonds, 100 grams
Pistachios, 100 grams
Chopped Parsley, large spoonful
Capers, a large spoonful
Eggs, 2 -- lightly beaten
Lemon Juice -- from one lemon

1. Brown the chicken in the olive oil and add a cup of the broth. Salt. Pepper. Simmer until tender.
2. Cool the chicken. If you are using whole chicken, remove the skin and bones. Cut into small pieces. Reserve both meat and broth in any case.
3. Cut the bread horizontally, slightly less than half way down, as if to make a dish with a lid.
4. Hollow out the bread. Combine the crumbs with reserved broth and pass through a sieve.
5. Grind the almonds and pistachios with the parsley and capers.
6. Combine with the bread puree, eggs and lemon juice creating a moist mixture.
7. Add the meat and then spoon the mixture into the bread shell and cover with the upper crust.
8. Bake for 20 minutes @ 350F. .

This is a simple yet kingly repast for anyone wise enough to enjoy it. This should be enough to satisfy at least six kings let alone three.

So, this would have been a good thing to leave out for Befana as she delivered presents. Here's hoping she left behind a king ...

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