Easy to prepare Italian fare for the Holiday Season

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    The holidays are best spent with the family – not only immediate relatives, but also the entire extended branches of the tree. However, instead of one big-celebration, it is recommended to host mini-gatherings – in compliance with social distancing and other health protocols in mind.

    When it is time to share your blessings, be different, daring and distinct–sans usual Christmas fare – after all, this year has been extraordinary in so many ways.

    “Why not go Italian?” asks Chef Jade Christopher Lee, CHE, CGSP of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.

    Be inspired, as Lee served as the Chef of Verre Wine Bar and Shelter in the Woods and Assistant Pastry Chef in Fruit Paradise in Singapore. He likewise organizes the Young Hoteliers’ Exposition and Manila Foods and Beverage Exposition and his awards and citations include a much-coveted recognition from the 2019 Philippine Culinary Cup.

    Lee suggests the hearty flavors of Chicken and Sausage Ragu and the mouthwatering decadence of Christmas Semifreddo this season of sharing.

    “As one of the most recognized, popular and favorite cuisines in the world, it guarantees a smile for everyone. The ingredients can be easily acquired while supporting local farmers and small entrepreneurs.” he ends.

    Chicken and Sausage Ragu

    (Serves four to six)

    Ingredients:

    Salt

    200g fresh pork sausage, removed from casing

    1 chopped red onion

    2 chopped garlic cloves

    1 tsp paprika

    80g chopped sundried tomatoes

    600g skinless and boneless chicken thighs

    400g canned chopped tomatoes

    100ml stock

    2 tbsp calamansijuice

    500g dried pasta o(penne, rigatoni, fusilli, etc.)

    Procedure:

    1. If using dried sundried tomatoes, soak in warm water for a few minutes. If using sundried tomatoes in oil, drain from the oil.
    2. Fry the sausage over medium heat in a saucepan until the fat renders and the meat browns.
    3. Add the onion and garlic and fry for three to five minutes.
    4. Stir in the sundried tomatoes and paprika.
    5. Add chicken to the pan and fry for two to three minutes on each side to brown.
    6. Add chopped tomatoes and stock, lower the heat, cover, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until the chicken starts to fall apart and the sauce becomes thick.
    7. Add calamansi juice and adjust seasoning with salt.
    8. Boil a pot of water, add salt, and cook the pasta until al dente or as prescribed by the packaging. Drain the pasta once cooked.
    9. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, mix, and serve.

     Christmas Semifreddo

    (Serves four to six)

    Ingredients:

    4 egg yolks

    2 egg whites

    75g sugar

    250g cream cheese

    100 g assorted and chopped candied fruit

    250ml cream

    15ml cherry liqueur (optional)

    6 to 8 slices fruit cake or panettone (Italian fruit cake)

    Procedure:

    1. Whisk yolks and sugar in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Set aside and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
    2. Beat cream cheese and cream together then stir into the yolk mixture.
    3. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks and fold into the cream/yolk mixture and the candied fruit.
    4. Line a loaf pan with cling film. Brush liqueur over the fruit cake slices.
    5. Line the bottom of the loaf pan with fruitcake slices and pour half of the cream mixture, add another layer of fruitcake, the rest of the cream mixture, and finally the last layer of fruit cake.
    6. Freeze for at least three to five hours. Remove from the freezer, unmold on a serving platter, and serve immediately.

    Chef Jade Christopher Lee, CHE, CGSP, currently shares his expertise in International Cuisine, Garde Manger and Charcuterie, Poultry and Meat Cookery, Professional Cooking, Principles of Food Production and Menu Planning, and Hazard on Food with the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s growing roster of culinary aspirants.