Gabbie’s Italian Easter: Part I

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Italians take their holidays very seriously, and with that comes food. Food is a love language for many mothers, but especially Italian mothers. It is our way of telling our family just how much we love them. I am half Italian and half Irish, and while my Italian Nonna encouraged us to stuff our bellies with ALL food, my Irish grandmother had an affinity for cooking pork. I cook a lot of pork.

For Easter, I wanted to try something special... beyond the usual pork loin or tenderloin, and no rapini because I eat it all the time anyway. So I landed on the decadent Italian roast called Porchetta. This roast is heavily marinated with fresh herbs, lemon zest, garlic, and chili flakes and then rolled into a pork belly so that the fat melts into the loin. It was exactly the meal I was looking for!

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My mom owns a floral design business called Simply Flowers Design, she set the table beautifully using little bundles of flowers and sentimental family items. Something that sounds easy, but my arrangements never look like hers.

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So now on to the recipes! Our menu included the Porchetta, an arugula salad with shaved fennel and Sicilian blood orange topped with Sir Kensington's Golden Citrus Vinaigrette, a tomato and mozzarella salad with my Roman Goddess Dressing, and my lemony Asparagus Hollandaise Risotto. Everything is bright and fun, there are many crossover ingredients so shopping isn't too difficult and all four of our courses took me 6 hours total of shopping, prep, and cooking.

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Gabbie's Traditional Porchetta

  • 8-lb porchetta cut loin with the belly fat attached and scored on the outside (purchased unseasoned and ready to roll at Butcher & The Larder)
  • 1/4 c. fennel fronds chopped from the tops of fresh fennel bulbs
  • 1/4 c. whole fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp. rosemary with stalks removed
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. red chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Maldon salt
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 c. olive oil (I used Corto Young Olive Oil, which was a gift and isn't commercially available but I wish it was!)

Pulse the herbs, spices, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor into a rough paste. Spread on the inside of the pork belly flap and all along the loin. I have tutorials in my stories on Instagram under the highlights 'Easter Eats' if you are looking for a step-by-step visual. Crack several turns of fresh black pepper onto the inside of the porchetta, roll up and secure with twine. Heavily pepper and lightly salt the scored outside and lay additional rosemary on top. Let rest for 1 day.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I cooked my 8-lb porchetta for 3.5 hours until the thickest part reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees. I rested it for 30 minutes before we sliced.

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Asparagus Hollandaise Risotto

  • 1 c. arborio rice
  • 3 c. homemade chicken stock or a nice brand of bone broth
  • 1 c. chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 c. chopped celery
  • 1 tsp. Maldon salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 c. clarified butter (I used 4th & Heart Garlic Ghee)
  • 1 small lemon juiced
  • 1 bunch asparagus boiled and shocked in ice, reserve the liquid

Risotto is a dish of patience it requires lots of stirring and watching, it also doesn't like to sit. So I recommend prepping the salads first and putting them in the fridge undressed. You can definitely cook the asparagus a day ahead but reserve a cup of the water it boiled in for the risotto or hollandaise. I boiled my asparagus for 4 minutes and then shocked it in an ice bath to keep it nice and green, and stored it in my fridge.

Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil, add the arborio rice and toast for a few minutes. Slowly add the chicken stock stirring constantly. During this process season with salt and pepper, tasting toward the end to make sure it has the right amount of salt.

Hollandaise, this is an optional addition. If you do not care to make a hollandaise to add to the risotto add 3 tsp. lemon juice directly to the risotto. Otherwise, in a glass bowl on top of a gently simmering pot add the yolk of one egg, whisking constantly so you don't get scrambled eggs. Slowly drizzle the melted ghee into the egg, emulsifying the fat into the egg yolk. After you have added the ghee, whisk the juice of one small lemon and add a pinch of salt. Set the bowl aside when it's thickened and creamy.

When the risotto is al dente slowly stir in the hollandaise and add the chopped asparagus. Crack in some fresh pepper and it is ready to serve immediately.

Stand by tomorrow to read about the lovely salads that would make an amazing addition to any table! Here is a sneak peek:

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3 thoughts on “Gabbie’s Italian Easter: Part I”

  1. Going to “borrow” the risotto recipe for my Easter dinner. Can’t wait to see the salad recipes. Thank you for sharing!

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