The Province of Brescia was named the European Region of Gastronomy for 2017 in recognition of its rich culinary heritage. Over the centuries the people of the area have worked with the unique natural resources of their fertile valleys, lakes and mountains to produce dishes and wine that have been refined over time.
The lakes of the region are a bountiful source of fresh fish. In Lake Iseo over 23 species swim its waters including trout, perch and pike. Lake Garda is home to pike, trout and the rare carpione – a fish that can only be found in Lake Garda. A little-known claim to fame is their caviar, produced by Calvisius. Their exquisite caviar is produced from white sturgeons, a type of freshwater fish that is low in fat, high in protein and can live to an age of 100.
The province produces 10 DOCG and DOC wine varieties, the most famous of which is the sparkling white variety – Franciacorta. The wine is made in the traditional method with two fermentations, the last in the bottle and aged at least 18 months. Franciacorta takes on the quality of the region’s rich mineral soil and is made from a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot blanc grapes.
Risotto allo Franciacorta e Caviale
This is an elegant dish, with ingredients including Italian caviar and Franciacorta sparkling wine, it is by no means inexpensive!
12 oz Arborio rice
1/4 white onion, chopped finely
2 ounces of butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 oz of Franciacorta
1 tbsp of capers
2 1/2 tbsp of Calvisius Caviar
1/2 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
mint leaves for garnish
In a large frying pan, melt the butter over a low flame. Once melted, add the onions and cook over a low flame until translucent and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and mix well with the butter and the onions. Next, slowly add the Franciacorta. Cook until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. To ensure that the rice does not dry out, add a little bit of the heavy cream to the rice every 5 minutes and then and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix in the Grana Padano cheese.
When the risotto is done, divide into 4 portions and dot each bowl with a bit of caviar and capers and a drizzle of olive oil.
Casonsei di Brescia
Brescia is famous for its stuffed pasta. This recipe uses a flavored meat filling and then sauté the cooked ravioli in butter and sage.
For the Pasta
1 lb all-purpose flour
For the Filling
1/2 lb ground pork, beef, veal mixture
1/4 cup beef stock
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 clove of garlic
2 oz butter
8-10 sage leaves
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
For the ravioli dough, place the flour on a board, making a well in the center. Drop the eggs into the flour well, using your hand or a fork, break the yolks and beat eggs slightly. Combine the eggs and flour together, add warm water if needed to make a stiff dough. Knead dough well, until smooth; cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes. Cut the dough in half and roll each half of the dough out on a floured board, into a very thin sheet (about 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick).
In a sauté pan, heat the butter until golden, add the ground meat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Add a few tablespoons of stock; finish by adding the grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Season with salt, stir and cook over a low flame for 14-15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the egg, stir well and add the chopped parsley and garlic.
Drop about 1 tablespoon of filling and form into a crescent shape about 2-1/2 inches apart along the dough. When the sheet of dough is fully dotted with dabs of filling mixture, cover filling with other sheet of dough. Using your fingers, gently press dough between each dab of filling to seal it. Cut ravioli into half-moons with a ravioli cutter or very sharp knife. Allow the pasta to dry for one hour before cooking.
Drop each ravioli into 6 to 8 quarts of boiling, salted water and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until they float and the dough is tender.
Once cooked, drain and gently sauté the ravioli for 1 minute on each side in a pan with a generous amount of golden butter flavored with sage leaves. Remove and immediately serve with Parmigiano Reggiano.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
5-1/2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/3 cup unblanched whole almonds, very coarsely chopped
Center a rack in the oven and heat it to 325°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
Put both flours, cornmeal, sugar, salt and cinnamon into a food processor and pulse to blend. Drop in the chunks of butter and pulse (scraping the bottom of the bowl a couple of times) until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. While pulsing, pour in the egg yolk. Using long pulses, process until the mixture is moist and grainy, like wet sand – it should hold together when pinched.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the almonds and use your fingers to squeeze the dough into small morsels. Drop the pieces into the buttered pan as you go. When all the dough is in, pat it down gently, just enough to start the morsels to stick together.
Bake for 34 to 38 minutes, until the top is deeply golden brown. Transfer to a rack, wait 3 minutes then run a table knife around the torta and invert it onto the rack. Traditionally in Italy, the torta is broken apart, rather than sliced. If you want to cut it into pieces, turn it right-side-up onto a cutting board and use a chef’s knife to cut, then return the pieces to the rack to cool to room temperature before serving.