Watch Cooking Channel

Where the Wild Things Are

I still remember it as if it was yesterday, even though it was 30 years ago!  In Italy, school runs six days a week—yes we attend classes on Saturday morning too, a real bummer. But Sunday is revered as the “Day of Rest”… unless you live in the country!

Yes, if you lived in the Italian countryside until a few decades ago, you really could not sleep past 7 am on any given Sunday during fall and winter, and not because your grandma forced you to go to Mass!  What actually got us out of bed was the herd of hunters and dogs that roamed our property, anxious to find their lunch for the day. It was like New Year’s Eve fireworks, as shotguns broke the morning silence and loads of pellets sped through the mist and landed on our farm’s roof… tic, tic tic, one after the other. The message to me was clear: “We are here and we are hungry. Stay in the house and forget about your bicycle ride… at least until after lunch time.”

A true hunter's meal: roasted pheasant with a pork and bread stuffing.

In those days I sided with Bambi: I could not understand the need to transform the countryside into a war zone, when the butcher downtown could basically provide anything you might have needed for your Sunday stew. Not many regulations were in place for hunters, and anything was fair game.

But the Green-Movement picked up momentum in Italy in the mid 80s, and new regulations declared many areas off limits for hunting, forbidding hunters to enter private properties without the owner’s consent. The shooting stopped, and, as of now, my countryside is still quiet… but it is also a zoo!

Over twenty years of virtually no hunting have allowed my family property to become a safe heaven for everything I now dream of having served on my plate, and not just for Sundays.  When Debi, the girls and I go stay in our little pink house in the fields, we spend so much time looking out the windows, in search of any kind of movement. In the early morning, as we prepare breakfast, the kids roll their chairs in front of the glass door that faces the olive orchard, and quietly sip their chocolate milk in the hope of catching a glimpse of country life: rabbits, pheasants, deer and quail are everyday encounters, and the girls love knowing that our house is surrounded by wildlife.

But then, here and there—especially when it rains or when the mist is rolling uphill from the valley below—familes of wild boar make their appearance, and we all gasp!

Wild boars have historically not shown interest in our fields. But now, as if back from a long exile, they seem to be here to stay and reproduce… like rabbits. What has actually happened is that the traditional Wild Boar—which previously gave birth to only a couple of cubs each year—has bred with domestic pigs, and is now popping out about eight cubs per season. They are damaging crops, destroying any unfenced vegetable garden they come across, scratching bark off fruit trees, exposing them to sicknesses. They also pose a threat to car traffic on our main streets, as they roam from property to property. Needless to say, my wife is now terrified by a possible encounter as she works the laundry line in the garden. Hence, it is time to take the matter in our hands, and the necessary steps to start controlling the boar population once we get back to our home in Tuscany.

But before diving into our first hunting experience, we need to learn how to safely shoot animals, and start working on some traditional hunters’ recipes.

Peperonata: a pepper and potatoes stew.

Many of the recipes I have were passed onto me by my grandfather’s farmers. When I would visit my grandparents as a child, I remember all the wives sitting on benches and wooden chairs after the hunters had left the fields. Out of kitchen doors, pheasants and quails hung upside down, and one by one came down from the hooks into the ladies’ laps, who would pluck the feathers. Big pots were already steaming in the kitchen—vegetable stews with peppers, potatoes, black kale and beans were cooking with bay leaves and rosemary, spreading a fantastic aroma all around. And the hunters, were they cooking? They were too busy boasting and comparing the sizes of their kill!

As much as I had my reservations about hunters, I deeply enjoyed dining with them. It was always a feast of great meats, seasonal vegetables, garden herbs and young wine. Now that I am a grown up, I apply myself very hard to bring back the memories, and also to learn the recipes that are traditional to any Tuscan hunter’s home.

This week, I make my family a recipe for Roasted Pheasant, as it is traditionally prepared in Florence (you can substitute with Guinea Foul, or even chicken); a Peperonata, which is a Tuscan staple of peppers and potatoes stew; and finally a very interesting recipe for Castagnaccio, a traditional chestnut flower cake that the kids will not necessarily like, but more for us!

Castagnaccio: a chestnut-flour cake with nuts, raisons and rosemary.

Castagnaccio should be eaten warm out of the oven, before it begins to dry. I remember my grandfather used to trick me into eating it by serving it to me with a big gallop of whipped cream, and that’s probably still my favorite way to enjoy it.

Enjoy!
Gabriele


Watch Gabriele and Debi Mazar cook meals from their home every Wednesday night at 10pm ET/ 9pm CT on Cooking Channel
.

More about the show:

More Italian food:

Tags:

Comments (1640)

  1. free gas forever posted 07/17/2011

    You could certainly see your expertise within the paintings you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren't afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

  2. frisch fertig posted 07/20/2011

    Go back to my site and you can love me or not, but all I have to wake up to face another tomorrow, the day could see what we need, so you try and fly

  3. work accident compen posted 08/03/2011

    This is a good posting thanks for the information they have seriously helped me I'd personally recently been trying to find something like this for a while

  4. innsbruck hotel posted 08/04/2011

    Online Article……

    [...]The info mentioned in the article is some of the best available [...]………

  5. madrid hotel posted 08/06/2011

    Great website…

    [...]we like to honor many other internet sites on the web, even if they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Under are some webpages worth checking out[...]………

  6. hotel in palermo posted 08/08/2011

    You should check this out……

    [...] Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a few unrelated data, nevertheless really worth taking a look, whoa did one learn about Mid East has got more problerms as well [...]………

  7. horse racing system posted 08/09/2011

    There is visibly a bundle to realize about this. I assume you made various good points in features also.

  8. קידום אתרים בזול posted 11/08/2012

    ����� ����…

    ������ ����� ����� ������….

  9. Scottie Coursey posted 11/14/2012

    The Slave of the Husband…

    Trying to find in advance to finding out extra from you afterward!……

  10. Welcome to My Blog posted 11/16/2012

    Tumblr article…

    I saw a writer writing about this on Tumblr and it linked to…

  11. how to home brew beer posted 11/16/2012

    Fantastic…

    Very enlightening blog page. Kudos Again. Really Cool….

  12. SEO Services Australia posted 11/17/2012

    Informative Blog…

    Rather neat blog article. Much thanks again and again. Great….

  13. darmowy serwis randkowy posted 11/17/2012

    The Silent Shard…

    This can probably be really handy for many of one’s job opportunities I decide to will not only with my weblog but…

  14. odszukaj milosc swego zycia posted 11/18/2012

    Healing’s Dragon…

    to discover issues to enhance my web site!I suppose its okay to produce use of a number of of the principles!!…

  15. randka posted 11/18/2012

    Healing’s Dragon…

    to locate matters to further improve my site!I suppose its ok to create usage of a number of within your principles!!…

  16. steel strapping posted 11/18/2012

    OK…

    Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren\’t loading correctly. I\’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I\’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome….

  17. randki za darmo posted 11/19/2012

    The Absent Game…

    In between me and my husband we’ve owned much more MP3 gamers over the years than I can count, such as Sansas, iRivers, iPods (common & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players….

  18. doccia posted 11/19/2012

    The Ships’s Voyages…

    I think technology just causes it to be even worse. Now there’s a channel to never ever care, now there will not become a prospect for them to find out….

  19. our website posted 11/19/2012

    The Silent Shard…

    This will possibly be very valuable for a few of your work opportunities I decide to you should not only with my blog but…

  20. Look Here posted 11/21/2012

    Superb website…

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[...]……

  21. online jobs uk posted 11/24/2012

    Hi…..

    I have recently started a site, the info you offer on this website has helped me greatly. Thank you for all of your time & work. “It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” by Sir Winston Chur…

  22. Elicia Isiordia posted 11/24/2012

    The Birch of the Shadow…

    I believe there may perhaps be a handful of duplicates, but an exceedingly handy checklist! I’ve tweeted this. A lot of thanks for sharing!…

  23. Rayna Milosevic posted 11/24/2012

    Healing’s Dragon…

    to discover problems to further improve my web page!I suppose its okay to help make use of several within your concepts!!…

  24. Julie Leiendecker posted 11/25/2012

    Souls in the Waves…

    Excellent Early morning, I just stopped in to visit your website and imagined I would say I liked myself….

  25. loansandbadcredit.org posted 11/25/2012

    Third Flower…

    My wife and that i are actually now delighted that Albert could carry out his studies as a result of the thoughts he had by means of your website. It is on occasion perplexing to just usually be making a gift of methods which a number of people could h…

  26. aloe vera side effects posted 11/26/2012

    Tumblr article…

    I saw a writer talking about this on Tumblr and it linked to…

  27. Theron Mifflin posted 11/26/2012

    The Ships’s Voyages…

    I feel technological know-how just can make it worse. Now there is a channel to by no means care, now there will not likely be considered a prospect for them to discover….

  28. curriculum vitae posted 11/27/2012

    The Birch of the Shadow…

    I think there may possibly be considered a number of duplicates, but an exceedingly handy checklist! I have tweeted this. A lot of thanks for sharing!…

  29. cv posted 11/27/2012

    Third Flower…

    My spouse and that i have already been now delighted that Albert could execute his reports as a result of the ideas he had through your web content. It is on occasion perplexing to only usually be gifting away steps which a number of people might have …

  30. Franklyn Solliday posted 11/27/2012

    Third Flower…

    My wife and i are actually now delighted that Albert could execute his reports as a consequence of the thoughts he had by means of your online page. It truly is once in a while perplexing to only often be freely giving ways which lots of people could h…

  31. madam lux posted 11/27/2012

    Wow…..

    I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thx again! “One never goes so far as when one doesn’t know where one is going.” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe….

  32. alcohol posted 11/28/2012

    Thanks For Sharing…

    Thanks for sharing, it is a wonderful article. Truly thank you! Want even more….

  33. green coffee for weight loss posted 11/28/2012

    Superb website…

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[...]……

  34. learn more posted 11/29/2012

    Woman of Alien…

    Great do the job you have done, this site is absolutely awesome with wonderful data. Time is God’s means of maintaining everything from taking place simultaneously….

  35. Automotive Forum posted 11/29/2012

    Woman of Alien…

    Best do the job you might have carried out, this website is basically neat with wonderful facts. Time is God’s means of preserving anything from taking place directly….

  36. Welcome to My Blog posted 11/30/2012

    Yahoo results…

    While browsing Yahoo I discovered this page in the results and I didn’t think it fit…

  37. koi posted 12/01/2012

    Koi…

    I do not develop really since thought due to now definitely at need to over a message on a page anylonger for many a period of time so. Even my associate Gregor is keen almost entirely and earlier has sample on greetings dear to Twitter.all brought on …

  38. motorcycle bags posted 12/01/2012

    The Best Offers…

    I got what you mean , thankyou for putting up.Woh I am thankful to find this website through google. “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” by Seneca….

  39. portal randkowy za darmo posted 12/01/2012

    Souls in the Waves…

    Good Morning, I just stopped in to visit your website and thought I would say I appreciated myself….

  40. webverzeichnis posted 12/02/2012

    webverzeichnis…

    i would not keep then after felt even as now absolutely at you should over a articles on a web site these days wonderful a reasonable length of time so. Even my good friend Gregor is enthusiastic permanently and as of now has sampled on greetings dear …

  41. serwis randkowy posted 12/02/2012

    Souls in the Waves…

    Superior Early morning, I just stopped in to go to your web site and imagined I would say I experienced myself….

  42. serwis randkowy posted 12/02/2012

    The Silent Shard…

    This may most likely be fairly practical for some of the work I want to will not only with my website but…

  43. cv wzór posted 12/02/2012

    The Ships’s Voyages…

    I believe technological innovation just can make it worse. Now there’s a channel to never care, now there wouldn’t be considered a probability for them to find….

  44. sex cam cam posted 12/02/2012

    The Ships’s Voyages…

    I think engineering just can make it worse. Now there’s a channel to hardly ever treatment, now there won’t be a possibility for them to discover….

  45. umow sie na randke posted 12/03/2012

    Whispering Misty…

    So sorry you can expect to miss the workshop!…

  46. najlepsza randka posted 12/03/2012

    The Absent Game…

    Among me and my husband we have owned a lot more MP3 players over the years than I can count, such as Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few many years I’ve settled down to one line of players….

  47. free nude sex cams posted 12/03/2012

    Third Flower…

    My spouse and that i have already been now delighted that Albert could carry out his reports thanks to the thoughts he had by way of your web page. It can be once in a while perplexing to just generally be giving freely actions which a lot of people mi…

  48. umow sie na randke posted 12/03/2012

    The Slave of the Husband…

    In search of in advance to learning further from you afterward!……

  49. portal randkowy posted 12/03/2012

    Third Flower…

    My wife and that i have been now delighted that Albert could perform his studies as a result of the ideas he had by means of your online page. It is actually every so often perplexing to simply usually be giving away actions which some people could hav…

  50. read more posted 12/04/2012

    Informative and precise…

    Its difficult to find informative and precise info but here I noted…

Post a New Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

c