Barolo Risotto with sausage and radicchio

Barolo is one of the great wines of Italy. Known by Italian wine lovers as the ‘king of wines and wine of kings’, it comes from Piedmont and is renowned for its deep flavour, bright garnet colour and exceptional clarity. It is the perfect foil to rich meat dishes and powerful hard cheeses. Risotto cooked with Barolo is a very traditional Piedmontese dish. It gives the rice a wonderful colour and aromatic flavour. This version adds Italian salciccia spiced with pepper, fennel and chilli (a good butcher in the UK should do a version). It also includes bitter red radicchio (sometimes called ‘Italian chicory’) which adds to the dramatic colour of the dish. Barolo does not come cheap so you can use any dry, preferably Italian, red wine. But if you are unfamiliar with this gloriously powerful wine with its famous aromas of violets, tar and vanilla then why not splash out. Use a glass in the risotto and finish the rest of the bottle as you eat.

For 2 Hungry Skiers

Ingredients:

  • 2 Spicy Italian sausages
  • A big glug of olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 150g Arborio rice
  • 1 glass of Red wine
  • 750 ml of chicken stock
  • Half a small head of radicchio
  • 60g butter
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Method:

  • Remove the skin from the sausages and break them up in a pre-heated pan with a little olive oil. Fry for a couple of minutes on a medium heat until they take on a little colour.
  • Finely chop the onion and add it to the pan sautéing it gently until it softens, add the garlic (also finely chopped) and cook for another minute. Now add the rice and stir for a minute or so until it becomes well coated in the oils of the pan. Tip in the wine and let it bubble away as the alcohol burns off.
  • When the mixture dries, start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously. It should take a little under twenty minutes for the rice to cook. About five minutes before the end add the shredded radicchio. When it is done remove from the heat and rest for a minute before stirring in a walnut size piece of cold butter and a handful of Parmesan cheese. Season with a good grind of pepper.

Chicken with Vin Jaune and Morel Mushrooms

Whilst it would be fair to say that much of Alpine cooking falls into a category that the Italians would describe as ‘cucina povera’, there are still some standout dishes that are notable for their luxury and refinement. Poulet au Vin Jaune et aux Morilles is one such dish. It is far more ‘haute cuisine’ than peasant cooking. It comes from the Jura region of the French Alps but can be found on the menu of high-end restaurants throughout France. It is not a complex recipe but is extravagant in its ingredients. Vin Jaune is a rare but celebrated wine from Franche-Comté. It smells and tastes a little like fino sherry but is unfortified. Honeycomb-like textured Morels are probably the most prized of all mushrooms. And the combination of ‘yellow wine’ nutty mushroom and cream makes for an unforgettably outrageous sauce.

Ingredients for 4 Hungry Skiers:

  • 40g dried morels
  • 1 free-range chicken
  • 100g salted butter
  • 500ml Jura Vin Jaune
  • 200ml crème fraiche
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  • Soak the dried morels in warm water for half an hour, drain them and soak again with fresh warm water for a further 5 minutes. Drain and carefully pat dry.
  • Joint the chicken into 8 parts keeping the skin on, (each breast into 2, 2 thighs and 2 legs).
  • Melt half the butter in a heavy-based casserole. Brown the chicken all over, take special care to brown the skin as this is the only colouring it will get throughout the cooking time. Remove the chicken to a plate.
  • Add the remaining butter to the pan and add the morels. Cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, stirring to make sure nothing burns.
  • Reserve one glass of the white wine for later and pour the rest into the pan stirring to ensure the pan juices at the bottom of the casserole are dissolved.
  • Return chicken to the casserole and simmer for 30-40 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked through).
  • Pour the mixture through a sieve catching all the sauce in another pan. Keep the chicken and morels warm in some tin foil.
  • Add the crème fraiche to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes
  • Add a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste and return the chicken and morels to the sauce and serve from the casserole.

Pancakes with cherry compote

Crepes (or Crespella as they are known in Italy) are a real ski resort favourite. Coming off the mountain and queuing at a little hut while the crepe-maker spreads your pancake with hot chocolate sauce is a great way to end the skiing day.

But we also love them for breakfast, served with yoghurt and gorgeous cherry compote.

Ingredients for the compote:

  • 500g ripe cherries – pitted and roughly chopped
  • 350g jam sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method for the compote:

  • Over a low heat slowly dissolve the sugar in the juice of the lemon.
  • Once dissolved add the cherries and slowly bring to the boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until a little dropped on a cool plate wrinkles when touched. Any left over compote can be bottled and used up to 3 months later.

Ingredients for the pancakes:

  • 120g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • Knob of butter

Method for the pancakes:

  • Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl.
  • In a jug whisk the eggs and milk together with a little salt and pepper.
  • Melt a little butter in a frying pan, pour enough batter in to thinly cover the pan and fry over a low heat for 1 minute or until ‘flip-able’. flip over and cook on the other side so that both sides are golden.
  • Serve with a spoonful of cherry compote and Alpine natural yoghurt.

Swiss Onion Tart

‘Fair-weather skiers’ are rather looked down upon by us fanatics who are happy to click into our bindings when it’s ten below and push off blindly into a swirling snowstorm. But even the hardiest amongst us would have to admit that when you are stuck on a stalled chairlift in a whiteout and you can’t even see your gloved hand in front of you, you curse the decision to go skiing in January. Easter skiing is marvelous. The snow’s not as good (in fact it might not be there at all) but gliding down the piste in a t-shirt on a piercingly sunny day is bliss. It also offers the opportunity for picnicking on the slopes. A skiing picnic can be as simple as chewing on a well-buttered baguette with a slab of milk chocolate inside or it can be an altogether more formal affair. There is a fantastic company in St Anton that offers extremely posh, piste-side picnics. When you arrive at a pre-arranged peak they will have carved a table out of packed snow and laid it with a veritable feast of alpine delicacies. A particular favourite is Swiss onion Tart, known by locals as ‘Zwiebewahe’. Buttery, short pastry enriched with Gruyere cheese encasing sweetly soft caramelised onions. Heaven. And just as delicious eaten outside on an early spring day in London.

Serves 6 Hungry Skiers

Ingredients for the pastry:

  • 220g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 40g grated Emmental, (gruyere, Beaufort or any other hard cheese would work)
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 120g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 egg – whisked

Method for the pastry: Preheat oven to 190c

  • Place the flour, salt, grated cheese and cayenne pepper in a food processor and whiz for a couple of seconds, add the butter and whiz until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Tip the breadcrumbs into a mixing bowl, add the thyme leaves and make a well in the middle. Pour the slightly beaten egg into the middle and, using a cold knife, cut through the egg and the flour mix to bind the mixture together until smooth. Wrap this in clingfilm and put it in the fridge to rest for half an hour.
  • Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out to fit a 16cm loose bottomed tart tin. Line the dish/tin with a thin layer of pastry (approximately 5mm thick), prick all over with a fork and chill for half an hour.
  • Line the pastry with a sheet of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans/rice/flour. Place in the centre of the preheated oven and bake blind. After 20 minutes take it out, remove the baking beans and paper and place the tart case back in the oven for 5 minutes to make sure the pastry is cooked on the bottom.

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 40g smoked streaky bacon – chopped small and fried off until crispy
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 & ½ onions – chopped finely
  • 150g gruyere
  • 50g Emmental
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml double cream
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 80g parmesan

Method:

  • Heat the oil and soften the onions until translucent and tender.
  • Combine the bacon and onions with the rest of the ingredients, other than the parmesan. Pour into the baked pastry case, sprinkle generously with grated parmesan and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the filling is puffed and golden on top.

Fondue Neuchatel

Cheese Fondue is the most iconic of all Alpine dishes.  Whether you have tried it or not, almost everybody is familiar with the image of spearing small cubes of bread and dipping them into a pot of melted cheese. Its origins are typically humble. It was a way for mountain villagers to use up small pieces of hardened cheese, by melting them together in a pot over an open fire.  It comes to us originally from the French speaking part of Switzerland (its name derives from the verb, ‘fondre’ – ‘to melt’) but can now be found all over the Alps. It is known as Fondue Savoyarde in France. There is a version called Sud-Tyrol Fondue in Austria. The Italians have their ‘Fonduta’ which they make with fontina. And every Swiss canton has its own version. The recipe couldn’t be simpler. The only difficulty is in choosing the cheese. You can use any mountain cheese and it is fun to experiment and find your perfect mixture. Generally, the Swiss like to combine nutty Gruyere with Emmental, (which has a slight elasticity to it when it melts) and then a softer cheese like Vacherin which adds a creaminess to the dish. Ideally you need an earthenware pot called a caquelon, or a cast iron version, which then sits over a small burner to keep it bubbling away while you eat. But you can just prepare it in a heavy bottomed pan, bring it to the table and then return it to the stove every so often, for a couple of minutes, to keep the temperature up. A couple of points of etiquette; It is considered very bad form to let your lips touch the fork, as you will then be putting it back into the pot. So you must try to delicately pull the cheese-covered bread from the prongs with your teeth without slobbering all over it. Also you must make sure that your cube of bread is firmly speared. If you lose your piece in the pot you must pay a forfeit. In Switzerland the forfeit is agreed upon at the start of the meal. Often, if a girl loses her piece of bread she must kiss the man on her right. If a man loses his piece he must buy a round of drinks, or down a shot of Kirsch. Or you can play strip fondue and insist that a piece of clothing is removed with every bread loss. As you can see, a fondue party is when the normally reserved Swiss really let their hair down.

Serves 4 Hungry Skiers

Ingredients:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 150ml dry white wine, try a Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc
  • 350g Appenzeller
  • 350g Gruyere reserve
  • 350g vacherin Fribourg
  • A good glug of kirsch
  • A French baguette – preferably a day or two old

Method:

  • Grate the cheese into a bowl and mix all together.
  • Rub the inside of your fondue pot with a cut garlic clove. Discard the clove afterwards. Set the pot on a low heat and pour the wine in. Once simmering add a handful of the mixed, grated, cheeses to the pot and gently stir the cheese through the wine in a figure of 8 movement until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Add another handful and repeat the process until all of the cheese has been added and melted. With the quantities suggested in this recipe allow about 20 minutes for this to happen.
  • Add a good glug of kirsch (80ml or so) to the pot and give it another stir.
  • Slice the bread into cubes and start dunking

Bon appétit!

Chocolate mousse with hazelnuts and Nocino

Nocino is a dark coloured, subtly spiced, walnut liqueur. This bittersweet digestif is made by steeping unripened soft green walnuts in alcohol. It comes from Northern Italy and was the invention of Benedictine monks but it is simple to make and popular wherever walnuts are found (there is a brand known as Nutzino in New Zealand). A good slug of Nocino goes in to this outrageously delicious chocolate mousse. But if you can’t source this walnut nectar, or be bothered to make it, you can use any other flavoured liqueur that grabs you (the orange of Grand Marnier is a brilliant match for the chocolate).

Serves 8 Hungry Skiers

Ingredients:

  • 150g Milka milk chocolate
  • 100g Lindt 70%
  • 6 eggs – separated
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp nocino
  • 100g bar of Lindt hazelnut dark chocolate

Method:

  • Melt the chocolate over a bain marie.
  • Whisk the egg whites until frothy then add the sugar and continue to whisk until firm peaks.
  • Stir the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture then add the nocino.
  • Carefully fold in the firm egg whites. Take care not to overmix.
  • Pour into a large bowl and place in the fridge for a couple of hours until set.
  • Coarsely chop up the bar of nutty chocolate and scatter all over the top of the set mousse.

Chambery Risotto – with Vermouth, Reblochon and Bayonne ham

Comfort food is an overused and largely meaningless descriptor. Finding something comforting is a highly personal thing. There are plenty of Koreans who find comfort in pickled cabbage. But for what it’s worth Chambery Risotto is our definition of comfort food.  Plump, silken grains in a fabulously creamy, oozing sauce. It is unctuous (we know that is bit of a marmite word) and delicious, with little shards of crisply fried cured ham just to add a bit of salty interest and stop you from drowning in the risotto’s smooth embrace. If you have been caught in a white out, or scared yourself on the last run home or, if you’re simply reading this in England and have had a torrid day in the office, this is our recommendation for something warm and soothing and indulgent.

Serves 2 Hungry Skiers

Ingredients:

  • 150g Arborio rice
  • 1 wine glass of vermouth
  • 750 cl chicken stock (or beef)
  • 100g Reblochon
  • 1 small onion
  • 60g butter
  • A big glug of olive oil
  • 5 slices of Bayonne ham

Method:

  • Finely chop the onion and gently sauté in the olive oil and a little butter in a wide deep frying pan.
  • Heat the stock in a pan.
  • When the onion is translucent add the rice and stir so all the grains are coated in the oil then pour in the vermouth. Let it bubble away for a minute or so while the alcohol burns off and then add a ladle of stock. Gently stir while it simmers and once the stock has been absorbed add another ladle. Continue until you have used most of the stock and the rice is cooked (yet still has a bite). This should take a little under twenty minutes.
  • Meanwhile cut the ham into thin strips and fry in a little oil until crisp.
  • When the risotto is cooked stick in a knob of butter and the reblochon cheese (which you should remove the rind from and cut into cubes) Serve in warm bowls with the crisp shards of ham sprinkled on top.

Mountain Eggs

This is the ultimate way to cook eggs for breakfast. Fried eggs and bacon, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, poached eggs on sourdough toast, eggs Benedict, a perfectly cooked omelet – these are all marvelous ways to eat eggs but not one of them is a patch on Mountain Eggs. What could possibly be more blissful than a slice of ham covering a deliciously oozing mixture of Gruyere and egg yolk, mounted on a perfect round of fried bread and topped with a beautiful snowcap peak of souffléd egg white?  It’s a dish that is as stunning to look at, as it is to eat. It combines all the greatest flavours of the Alps into one moreish mouthful. It is outrageously luxurious but also frugal in the simplicity of its ingredients.  It is, quite simply, the perfect start to the skiing day. Well, I hope we haven’t talked it up too much.

Ingredients for 2 Hungry Breakfasters:

  • 2 slices of white bread
  • 1 egg – separated
  • A small handful of grated Gruyere
  • 2 slices of ham
  • Dijon mustard
  • Sunflower oil

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 200c.
  • Cut the crusts off each slice of bread.
  • Mix the egg yolk with the Gruyere and spread on the bread. Lay a slice of ham on each and top that with a thin spread of Dijon mustard. Slice the layered bread into quarters.
  • Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks and carefully spoon clouds of the white onto all 8 pieces of bread.
  • Heat half a cm of sunflower oil in a large frying pan, carefully place 4 of the egg clouds into the pan and cook for a few minutes watching the whites almost double in height whilst the bread turns into a crispy crouton.
  • After 3 minutes or so put the whole pan into the oven for 30 seconds, leaving the oven door ajar, to colour the top of the cloud slightly.
  • Repeat with the final 4 pieces and serve.

Savoy Cabbage with Garlic, Juniper and Hazlenuts

 

This alpine cabbage is the king of winter vegetables. It is packed full of vitamin c and anti-oxidants and has a subtle, nutty flavour. The wonderful texture of its crinkly leaves is perfect for soaking up sauces and so this is a great accompaniment for our ‘Diots au Vin Blanc’ (recipe posted earlier).

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Large knob of butter
  • 1/2 a Savoy cabbage – finely shredded
  • 10 juniper berries – crushed
  • 50g hazlenuts – toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 fat garlic clove – finely sliced

Method:

  • Melt butter in a pan, add the garlic and soften. Throw in the cabbage, juniper, salt and pepper and a couple of tablespoons of water.
  • Coat the cabbage, turn the heat up and, shaking the pan every so often, cook for 5 minutes
  • Toss in the hazlenuts and serve.

Alpine Macaroni with Spiced Apple Sauce

Alpler Magronen is a real staple in ski resorts all over the Alps. The ‘Alpler’ refers to Alpine herdsmen who used to pretty much exist on this dish during the winter months when they were cut off from the rest of the world in their high mountain pastures. It is based on those long-lasting, energy giving staples of bacon, hard cheese and potatoes. And it includes macaroni which was introduced to the herdsmen’s’ diet in the 1870s by Italian railway workers building the great Gotthard tunnel. This was a useful addition to their diet. Small, light, cheap and easily transportable it quickly became hugely popular and spread all over the region. This dish, at first glance, appears to be merely a version of Macaroni Cheese. But don’t be fooled – it is an altogether different beast. The pasta is boiled in milk to give a base to the creamy sauce. It incorporates small cubes of potato and pieces of bacon. It comes with caramalised onions spread across its top. But most importantly it is served with a wonderfully piquant applesauce that brings it to life. The combination of rich cheesy pasta with sharp apple is mind-blowing. If you’re not prepared to make (or buy) the apple sauce then move on, this recipe is not for you. It is the combination that makes Herdsmen’s Macaroni one of the most loved dishes in the Alps.

Serves 6 hungry skiers.

Ingredients:

For the Macaroni

  • 600ml milk
  • 400g macaroni
  • 175g new potatoes
  • 400g Gruyere – grated
  • 100g diced pancetta
  • 7 onions – sliced
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100ml milk

Method:

  • Bring the milk and a litre of water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente and drain.
  • Cook the potatoes in salted water. Drain and slice into centimetre thick pieces.
  • Arrange the pasta and potatoes in a 6-person gratin dish.
  • Fry the pancetta and half of the onions until cooked and golden and then add the cream and milk and bring to the boil.
  • Once bubbling take off the heat, stir through 300g of the Gruyere and incorporate with the pasta and potatoes.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the dish and place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  • Fry the remaining onion off until golden and caramelised and cover the pasta for the final 5 minutes.
  • Serve with the apple sauce.

Ingredients for the Apple Sauce:

  • 4 apples – peeled, cored and coarsley chopped
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 160ml water
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat. Bring to a simmer and add the apples and spices.
  • Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the apples are tender and the liquid has evaporated.
  • Check seasoning and serve.