One the aspects of celebrating the liturgical year that we really enjoy is having an opportunity to experience some cultural variety by incorporating ethnic foods into a meal. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini's feast day is celebrated in the US on November 13. Though she ministered in the United State as a missionary sister to the Italian immigrants, St. Frances Cabrini, was born in Lombardy Italy. So her roots are in Italy where she was born, particularly the town of Sant'Angelo Lodigiano in Lombardy.
This northern area of Italy is known for rustic cuisine characterized by less use of olive oil, pasta and tomato sauce and more use of butter, rice, corn (for polenta) and cheeses for cream sauces. For Mother Cabrini's feast day we are going to be trying a little regional fare.
Asparagi al forno
1 lb. asparagus
Salt and pepper
3 T. butter
1/2 C. freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Clean asparagus, trimming off the woody ends if necessary. Place in a pan of lightly salted boiling water. Cook for 8 minutes over a medium heat. Drain and place the asparagus in a buttered baking dish. Add pinch of salt and black pepper. Drizzle melted butter over the top and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 6-7 minutes, until golden.
2 C. medium grind polenta/cornmeal
6 C. water (or light chicken stock)
This dish is mainly associated with northern Italy and is a beloved element of the now celebrated “cucina povera” - meaning the “humble food” of Italian cuisine. Bring salted water to boil in large pot. Add cornmeal by sprinkling it by hand over water in pot. Stir constantly with whisk. Reduce heat. Continue stirring with wooden spoon. Cook for 40-45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent lumps. Serve hot with ladle or turn onto wooden board and cool. Then cut into slices or squares and serve. Can be made in varying amounts, just keep the ratio of 1 part polenta to 3 parts water. Can be served plain with butter or topped with any pasta/tomato sauce, mushrooms, etc.
Chicken Breasts Lombardi
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, quartered
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6-8 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
3/4 C Marsala wine (substitute 1/4 grape juice, 1 t. brandy for each 1/4 C. Marsala)
3/4 C.chicken stock
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Flatten chicken breasts to 1/8-inch thickness. Dredge pieces lightly in flour. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet. Place several pieces of chicken in the pan, careflul not to crowd. Cook approximately 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. When browned, place chicken in a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat browning with remaining chicken, adding butter each time. Reserve drippings. Saute mushrooms in the same pan with 2 additional tablespoons butter. Stir wine and chicken stock into the pan, scraping to deglaze the pan, and cook for about 10 minutes until sauce is reduced by 1/3. Spoon sauce over chicken. Combine cheeses and sprinkle over chicken. Bake for 10 -15 minutes. Pin It