Friday, September 6, 2013

Cooking the Books Bill Granger Italian Food

Yes he has done it again. Bill Granger is the master of churning out cookbooks - yet each one looks like it took a lifetime of planning and thinking and his latest is no different. The sign of a man with good ideas I am sure. Meet Bill's Italian Food. It comes across as much more relaxed than previous titles - that could be something to do more with the styling and free form photography than content, but it is a pleasant diversion that makes me think/dream/wish for a warm Italian holiday.....sigh.

The recipes all have that Roman holiday vibe which depending on how dirty you are about being stuck at work/not in Italy on holiday can be a good or bad thing. The recipes are relaxed, low maintenance cooking and for me, I was particularly enamoured by the one pot low fuss factor combined with the lighter style, ready for summer flavours of this chicken with green olives, pine nuts and garlic. I've made it twice - such an easy mid-week go to option. I think the real key between good and great (other than organic chicken that has never met your freezer) is using those to die for good quality sicilian olives - they really do make the world of difference. Try it for yourself here.

Chicken, green olives, pine nuts  and garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken marylands, thighs and
drumsticks separated
10 shallots, peeled
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 bay leaves
160ml (2⁄3 cup) dry white wine
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
310ml (11/4 cups) chicken stock
90g (1/2 cup) green olives
50g (1⁄3 cup) toasted pine nuts
handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Season the chicken with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and brown the pieces all over for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the shallots and cook for 2–3 minutes, turning them occasionally until they start taking on some colour. Add the garlic, bay leaves and wine. Let bubble for a few minutes and scrape the bottom of the pan to collect up the flavours. Pour in the vinegar, sugar, stock and olives. Bring to the boil then partially cover and simmer for 45 minutes,
or until the chicken is very tender. Scatter over the pine nuts and parsley before serving. SERVES 4

I'm not sure this section counts because he is a global force to be reckoned with. Bill Granger is synonymous with relaxed Australian dining and I like that he is self taught, I think this sensibility ensures he writes recipes very much with the home cook in mind. I've never had one of his recipes fail, ever, and spent many a Saturday morning enjoying his infamous eggs at Bills Cafe - although I am certain that is no measure of his credibility as a cookery writer but it does speak to his consistency in delivery of tasty, simple and moorish food.
When your name is Bill Granger you are found everywhere. I mean everywhere. Bookstores, online at the usual Amazon, Kmart, gift stores, the list continues. Really this section should be renamed to where could you not buy Bill.  I do feel so badly for our little bookstores so if you can, please buy from them - they deserve all the support we can give them. There is nothing more delightful than whiling away the hours in a gorgeous, intimate independently run bookstore, that smells of paper and ink, and I never, ever want this to be a thing of the past.
Because its dependable. And because sometimes you don't want to think when you cook. Are the recipes challenging? No. But they work. They are easy and if you are anything like me you started your foray into cookbook consumption with a Bill Granger cookbook and there is something about having his tombs lined along your shelves that is a little bit heartwarming.  
Anyone can cook from Bill. He has mastered the tasty and the simple in a way that very few, other than Nigella perhaps, can. His recipes always work. I am yet to cook something that has been an epic failure. So as a gift, he is truly dependable. Even for the less cooking enthused among us because despite the low fuss recipes, its a beautiful book to flick through and imagine yourself at the outdoor table in an Italian summer, sipping Prosecco and basically living the good life. Now who doesn't want a gift like that?

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