Rick Tramonto is one of the most respected and well-established chefs in Chicago. He is the owner of and chef at the restaurants Tru, Tramonto's Steak & Seafood, Osteria di Tramonto, and RT Lounge, and was named “Best Chef: Midwest Region" by the James Beard Foundation in 2002. Rick is the author of seven books, the most recent of which are Fantastico! and Osteria. He is currently writing Rick Tramonto’s Steak and Friends, due out April 2010. For more information on Rick check out his interview with Hungry Beast here.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I like pork—in any shape or form, from thick chops to belly to sausages—and this recipe is on my top-five list of pork dishes. The natural sweetness of pork pairs perfectly with fruit, so don’t neglect the cherry vinaigrette.
From the time I was a small child, I’ve eaten fennel. My mother shaved it and served it raw dressed with lemon and black pepper, which is great, but when I got older, I happily discovered braising. Cooked or raw, the mild licorice flavor of fennel is amazing matched with citrus fruit.
As long as I can remember, I have appreciated big, brash flavors—and what’s brasher than a sausage ragu? Paired with this creamy polenta, it’s a grand-slam home run. Make a lot so that you’ve plenty of leftovers.
Braising is something I am well known for. But as crazy as I am about slow-cooked meat braises, braised vegetables are a lot easier to manage and taste unbelievable. This takes less than half an hour and is great for a winter meal of savory sausages, chicken, or even salmon. I like red cabbage, but you can braise green cabbage, napa, savoy, or bok choy this way.
These cookies remind me so much of the tri-colored cookies my mother made when I was a kid that when my cousin Kathy Abbamonte gave me this recipe, I couldn’t have been happier. Even though I am not much of a dessert guy, I bake them at least once a year, usually around the holidays, and am always glad I did.
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