Gianluca-Capozzi piccolo cafe


Born and raised with his sisters in Carpi, a small town near Modena, into a big family with southern italian roots, in the land of Ducati, Maserati, Ferrari and Prosciutto and where the Lambrusco wine runs like water. After 20 years and who knows how many moons on stoves I’m running for the past 5 years, being head chef and partner, our dream, called Piccolo Cafe, we are a dream continuously growing among us friends and in NYC: 3 cafes and 1 restaurants and a brand new catering division based in Manhattan. Piccolo Cafe is a young hearted traditional Italian cuisine cafe projects, a zero marketing formula and using only the best and most fresh ingredients imported from Italy, focused on quick lunch, dinner and catering.

I choose this recipe because it’s seasonal in Italy, Lamb it’s the typical meat prepared during Easter holidays. The extravaganza sits in the absence of tomato sauce, allowing the lamb to fully reveal is dominant quite delicate taste, among vegetable garden and distinctive Paccheri pasta.

Ingredients for 4
2 hind lamb shank;
1 onion;
2 carrots;
2 celery stalks;
2 cloves garlic;
Fresh thyme;
1/2 bounch broccoli rabe;
Pecorino Romano;
Provolone cheese shaved;
Paccheri pasta;
Salt and pepper;
White Wine.

Buy Gorgeous Baby Lamb shank,briefly wash it under cold running water, massage the meat and start trimming the meat off the bone, be gentle young chef, do not harm yourself, your knife, the bones, and please do not cut bone pieces into your meat, we will need those bones later, be patient and you’ll see.
Gently cut into small cubes the lamb, then all you’ll need for your Italian recipe will be kindness, attention and care.

Sauté the meat in 3 oz of medium hot olive oil, you’ll need a sauté pan, one of those beautiful stainless steel is the one to go for, but be careful young chef, do not burn the oil, hence just be careful and keep the flame low, I promise there will times we will let it burn, soon, but for now just let it go until lightly browned, yes just lightly browned and of course add a pinch of salt and pepper, what would we do without the amazing taste of pepper?

Get close to the pan, being careful, get closer with your nose, close your eyes, feel it, smell it, yes the magic is happening, now, and just now, add a 3oz of white wine.
Now, as promised, you can “speed up” the flame, we’ll need the wine to vaporize, physically disappear leaving the essence in our memories, why? This will add a touch of flavor, a distinctive memorable taste to the dish… a quick memory of your tryst, like a hot bath of wine.

Did you wash the vegetables yet? It’s time! Use cold water, please, then peel them, then wash them under the cold running water again, chop them, you are preparing them in the italian style!
Now let the cutted vegetables sit in a pot with olive oil (mine is a beautiful tangy emerald-green one), add fresh thyme, add the Lamb bones we left on the side, turn on the flames, set your stove on fire! Isn’t it amazing?!? Great, be sure to leave the pot cooking on low for 15 minutes.

… to check deeply 🙂

Final four Chef steps:
It’s time for this marriage to happen! Grab your pan, get closer to the pot where you cooked your vegetables and add lamb meat, 2 cups of white wine and one cup of water.

Cook medium flame all together for 1 1/2 hours, always apply the Italian checking … meaning do not let your cooking become dry, do not let it burn, smell it as a pro and adjust the flame accordingly the cooking, protect your meal, care for, keep the pot covered, because chef you’ll soon you”ll have to remove the lamb bone off the pot, I  would say after the first 45 minutes.

When the tiny pieces of meet left attached to the bone are detaching and becoming part of all the other ingredients, means it’s time to take off the bone and after other 45 minutes your lamb sauce will be ready. Look how it looks, taste how it tastes,check your salt, but careful any hot food taste less salty than what it really is… let it rest to judge the salt, below 130F will tell you the truth about is saltiness, not before.  

Time to cook the Paccheri al dente almost 10 minutes in plenty of boiling water and 5 pinches of salt. When pasta will be al dente mix it with your lamb sauce, add half cup of shaved Pecorino,sprinkle around the plate shaved Provolone cheese as well.

Buon appetito!2

by Executive Chef Gianluca Capozzi

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