Simple Deep Winter Peasant Cooking


This is the calm before the big storm. 18 inches of snow forecasted ….. maybe. Time to hunker down and plot a Spring kitchen garden. And eat enough carbs to shovel out the driveway.


Finally….it is near the back side of the chicken. This “minestra” is composed of pulled chicken, smoked prosciutto, celery root, rutabaga, herbs, beans and fregola.


Cornmeal for grits or polenta. I chose polenta. I love how coarse the grain has been milled….chunky, gritty, bits of this, bits of that. Polenta is the reason Italian grandmothers can beat you at arm-wrestling……..all that stirring. And all that stirring really needs is a little bit of attention and patience. Polenta is about as peasant as you can find. I also like the color. It seems just a little brighter. Hello, sunny day. I must try this for breakfast one of these snowy mornings. I’d go with honey and yoghurt.


Cornmeal mush with tomato sauce. This is perhaps as basic as it gets. Master how to make polenta correctly and you will be King of the Mountains. Peasant cooking is all about humble ingredients. The tomato sauce were from tomatos I grew. I made the polenta with water only. No milk, no cream but, in truth, I added a knob of butter and a little Parmigiana and folded it in. The polenta is creamy enough without the addition of dairy.


What is the difference between kinky and perverse? Besides brined, flattened and marinated boneless skinless chicken breast. The action of the brine allows the breast to remain moist during cooking. I pounded and flattened out the brined breast using the edge of a heavy blade. And then it sat in a marinade.


Kinky is when you use the feather of the chicken only. Perverse is when you use the entire  chicken. Swift thinking humor required here.


That’s what I’m talking about……juicy and moist from the brine I used. Wash it down by wallowing it in good olive oil. I ate some smashed carrots and parsnips in butter as an accompaniment. Those tears you see are actually tears of joy. A lot of flavor for little work. Maybe see you again in six months, Chicken Little.


Chestnuts……….open fire not included.


Castagnaccio or chestnut cake with pinenuts and raisins. Rosemary and olive oil too. A peasant’s dessert, if he were so fortunate.


This is my interpretation of the Tuscan classic. Thank you for looking at my story. Yes, please……more grappa. Forza Milan.