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updated 2/14/2006 12:15:01 PM ET 2006-02-14T17:15:01

Torino-born chef Roberto Donna owns Galileo, an upscale Italian restaurant based in Washington, D.C., that specializes in Piedmont regional dishes. At his restaurant, chef Donna adheres to a philosophy of food that started in the region — the slow food movement. It snubs its nose at fast dining and is dedicated to the use of authentic ingredients. The daily dishes are made with natural and homemade ingredients, which are often made from scratch. And the restaurant's menu continuously changes with the flavors and seasons of Piedmont. Chef Donna visited “Today” in Torino to share some special foods from this area of Italy.

Recipe: Bagna Cauda (on this page) Recipe: Braised Beef in Barolo (on this page) Recipe: Vitello Tonnato (on this page) Recipe: Bunet (on this page) Recipe: Agnolotti del plin (on this page)

Recipe: Bagna Cauda

History of the Bagna Cauda recipe
My summer vacations were spent with my grandparents in the country side of Asti. My grandparents were vegetable gardeners, and during the day I would help them in the field. In the evening, my grandmother would leave the field an hour before my grandfather and I to prepare bagna cauda in the courtyard on a wood burning stove. We would handpick some perfectly ripe peppers, roast them on the charcoal and dip them in my grandmother's sauce.

I remember this well, because one of these summer evenings was the first time that I drank a little too much chilled “Barbera” red wine, hence, my first hangover.

Today, when I return to my grandparents' home, I still have the good fortune of enjoying my grandmother's bagna cauda. At 85 years old, she continues to prepare it in the same manner!

  • 7 ounces anchovies (preserved under salt)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Wash and clean the anchovies, removing all bones.
Clean and thinly slice the garlic cloves.
Heat olive oil and butter in a terracotta pot; when the oil is hot add the anchovies and garlic. Continue to heat over a very low heat until the anchovies melt.


Serve in a terracotta pot over a very small flame in order to keep the bagna cauda hot while it is being enjoyed.


In Piedmont we serve this dish with:

  • Roasted peppers
  • Roasted onions
  • Jerusalem artichokes, thinly sliced — allow them to warm up for a few minutes inside the bagna cauda
  • Boiled artichokes
  • Thin slices of white truffles
  • Peppers marinated with vinegar

Recipe: Braised Beef in Barolo

  • 2-1/4 pounds lean boneless beef or eye round of shoulder
  • 4-1/2 ounces fatback or chopped bacon
  • 2 tablsespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Few leaves of sage, laurel and rosemary, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 clove
  • 2 onions, 1 carrot, 1/2 celery stalk, chopped finely
  • Meat stock
  • 1 bottle Barolo wine
  • Salt and pepper

Cut the fatback or bacon (rinded) into thin pieces and make incisions in the meat with the tip of a sharp knife. Stuff the fat inside, then tie with string.

Place the butter and oil in a casserole and melt, then brown the meat on all sides. Add the chopped herbs and garlic, then season with salt and freshly ground pepper, a pinch of cinnamon and a clove. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the meat and set aside. Place the vegetable mince in the casserole and sweat for a few minutes. Add back the meat and pour a bottle of Barolo wine on top, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for at least three hours. If it dries out, add some meat stock.

When it is tender, remove it from the casserole, untie it, slice it and place the slices overlapping on a serving dish with the cooking juice on top.


Typically served with mashed potatoes.

Recipe: Vitello Tonnato

  • 2-1/4 pounds boned veal, cut from the rump
  • 3/4 pound tuna packed in oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 salted anchovies (the canned variety, sold by delicatessens)
  • Handful of pickled capers
  • 1/2 cup (approx.) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 rib of celery, thinly sliced crosswise
  • Few sage leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves (some people omit these)
  • Salt
  • A few more perfect capers, some lemon slices, and sprigs of parsley for garnishing

Put the meat in a bowl with the bay leaves, cloves, sage and celery, and pour the wine over it. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours, turning the meat occasionally.

The next day, place the meat in a Dutch oven. Strain the wine and add it to the meat, then add enough water to cover. Lightly salt the pot and simmer the meat for an hour. In the meantime, wash, scale and bone the anchovies. When the hour is up, add them to the pot and continue boiling for another half hour; the liquid should be reduced by half.

Hard boil the eggs, peel them, and extract the yolks. Rinse, squeeze dry, and mince the capers.

When the meat is fork-tender, remove it from the pot and strain the broth into a bowl. Transfer the fish filets to a clean strainer and press them through it, together with the tuna and the yolks, into another bowl. Stir in the minced capers, the vinegar, the lemon juice and the olive oil, and then dilute the sauce to your taste with some of the reserved broth.

When the veal has cooled, slice it finely and lay the slices out on one or more platters (you want just one layer). Spread the sauce over the meat, garnish the platters with the lemon slices, capers and parsley.

Serving Size

Serves 6-8

Recipe: Bunet

  • 1 quart milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 10 amaretto cookies (1 inch in diameter)
  • 9 ounces sugar
  • 2 ounces cocoa powder
  • 1 cup marsala wine
  • 4 tablespoons fernet branca
  • For Caramel
  • 3 ounces sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water

To prepare the bunet
Bring the milk to a boil. Meanwhile, mix the sugar with eggs, cocoa powder, sugar and crumbled amaretto cookies. Pour in the hot milk and stir briefly. Add the marsala and fernet.

To prepare the caramel
Prepare the caramel by cooking the sugar with water until it turns an intense golden color. Place in the bottom of a 8" x 4" mold.

To complete the bunet
Pour the milk mixture into the mold filled with caramel mixture. Cook in bain-marie for 45 minutes or until the center of the pudding feels firm under the pressure of a finger. Remove from bain-marie and place aside to cool off.


To serve, unmold the bunet upside down, and serve with the caramel sauce taken from the cooking.

Recipe: Agnolotti del plin

  • For Pasta
  • 1 pound flour
  • 22 egg yolks
  • For Filling
  • 12 ounces (300 g) cooked lightly seasoned pot roast
  • 6 ounces (150 g) roast pork loin
  • 3 ounces (75 g) fresh, mild sausage
  • 4 ounces (100 g) brains (pig
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch escarole
  • 1-1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano
  • 3 eggs
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (just a pinch)
  • Salt
  • For Cooking and/or as a Sauce
  • Roasted meat jus
  • Melted, unsweetened butter (about 1/2 cup, or perhaps a little more)
  • Fresh sage
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano
  • White truffle, if desired

Make the dough from the flour and the eggs yolks, put it in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit.

While you're kneading the dough, bring water to a boil, and boil the sausage and the brains for a few minutes, then remove them and let them cool. Remove the sausage casing and crumble the sausage. Pick over the brain, removing membranes, and mince it.

Blanch the escarole, drain it, squeezing well to extract moisture, and mince it. Sauté escarole until done in the butter. Mince the cooked meats quite finely (if need be you can blend them, but be careful not to make a paste).

Combine all the ingredients of the filling in a bowl and mix them thoroughly with your fingers to obtain a homogenous mixture, seasoning it to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Take the pasta dough and roll it out dime-thin. Cut the sheet into two equal-sized pieces, dust one lightly with corn meal, roll it up, and cover it so it stays moist. Dot the half of the sheet still on your work surface with blobs of filling about the size of a small hazelnut, putting the dots in rows that are about an inch apart (I have seen agnolotti that are smaller).

Unroll the other sheet, shake off the corn meal, and lay it over the first. Tamp the sheet down well around the filling, so it sticks, and cut the agnolotti free with a serrated pasta wheel.

To cook them, heat the butter in a pan with the sage, and remove it from the flames when the sage begins to whisper (you don't want to brown the butter or burn the sage). In the meantime, bring broth to a boil.

Boil the agnolotti in meat jus, skimming them off, into a serving bowl, as soon as they rise to the surface. Season them with the butter and sage, and serve with freshly grated cheese, and thinly sliced truffle, if you have it.

Serving Size

Serves 6


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