What’s your plan for the Christmas Lunch? BBQ on the beach or lunch with family? Meat or seafood?
The Christmas Lunch.
It’s that time of year again! Christmas, or “Natale”, no matter how religious you are is traditionally correlated with food. Everybody celebrates Christmas slightly different, but for myself Christmas Eve extra special as it just happens to be my Nonno’s birthday. My family and I always go to my grandparents house, in the big room at the back and drink and laugh during antipasti, primi e secondi, dolci e frutte, and lastly coffee and tea. We play tombola – a traditional Italian bingo game, and celebrate my nonno’s birthday. At midnight we open the gifts we receive. The next day we spend time with more family and friends over a Christmas lunch!
I usually cook very traditional biscuits for Christmas, learnt from my nonna. However, this year I wanted to do something different and slightly more modern.
The first is a fig focaccia. This was the first time I have made a focaccia before and let’s just say I skipped boxing class that evening…
*** If you have access to fresh produce, we always will encourage you to use these! From a health point of view, there are no added preservatives or pesticides sprayed on them. From a foodie point of view – a hella lot tastier! ****
For the dough, dissolve 1 tsp of dry yeast with warm water, and mix with 2 cups of 00 flour and 100g of plain flour. Knead for 5 minutes, add sea salt and keep on kneading until you feel an elastic texture. When you think you’re done, keep kneading. Your ball of dough must now be left in a bowl with a little oil and covered until slightly risen (25 minutes should do).
Shape into a rectangle and fold the dough like your folding a letter at least 3 times. This is a method which is necessary for the dough to have that great chewed focaccia texture! Keep an eye out for big shaped cells whilst kneading, characteristic of gluten. This is responsible for the breads ability to rise, which is what bakers prefer for commercial cooking. The end result should have a light, airy texture.
Leave this folded dough in a lightly oiled dish roughly 3cm deep, covered with a kitchen towel for at least two hours. You should see it grow. Now preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Spread and stretch the dough to fit the pan, and make indents with your fingers. Sprinkle sea salt – I prefer flakes for the stronger taste and texture after biting. Lightly pour tbsp each of EVOO and water and leave in oven for at least 20.
Now for the Christmas twist. Slice some fresh figs however you desire and place them on top of the focaccia. Add some herbs – I used rosemary and thyme as that is what I had in my garden.
I put the tray back in the oven and just waited until I saw the focaccia brown a bit more, and the figs cook a little.
To serve, if you wish, pour some red wine over the figs. For the vero italiano style, use Marsala. I didn’t have any so I used a wine from my Nonna’s hometown of Tocco da Casauria, Abruzzo. The brand is TORO and the wine is called “Ratafiat – Succo di ciliegie” (Cherry juice) and is from Montepulciano in Abruzzo.
This fig focaccia is perfect for Melbourne’s summer weather, with a glass of wine and eaten with prosciutto or simply dipped in balsamico and olive oil.
BUON NATALE RAGAZZI