I suspect the person who coined the phrase ‘working up an appetite’ had in mind a morning spent pruning olive trees followed by a three-course Italian lunch. I have no wish to romanticise what is a bloomin’ tough job – but the rewards that met our sturdy band of pruners was, I think, worth the pain. This is what our friend Louisa cooked up for the boys – traditional lunch grub for the Le Marche farmer.
First thing to emphasise is that it’s the sauce that’s red rather than the duck – so spare your blushes. Something about the recipe here. Brown one duck leg or thigh per 1.5 people in olive oil. Remove the duck, pour off the fat and sauté a sliced onion, carrot, celery stick and a couple of garlic cloves. Once they’re softened return the duck pieces and add a glass of red wine a can of chopped tomatoes, a cup of stock and a handful of rosemary. Simmer on a low heat for a hour or so until you can pull the meat off the bone. Then reduce to a nice thick sauce for another half hour or so. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about 80g of dried linguine per person. And mix in the sauce.
Chicken with black olives and bell peppers
Marinate two chicken breasts or legs per person, add half a cupful of olive oil, two cup fulls of black olives (pitted or not), two sliced red peppers and two sliced green peppers, chopped rosemary, oregano, bay leaves and sage, and 5 cloves of chopped garlic.
Heat up a large saucepan over a medium flame, pick out the chicken pieces and sauté on both sides until golden brown. Then add the rest of the marinade and sauté for several minutes more. Once the peppers are tender season with salt and pepper and you are ready.
Clean your potatoes. The quantity depends (obviously) on how many people and how hungry they are, but always always do more than you think as they’ll always get eaten. Slice into wedges. Cook over a medium heat for 30 minutes in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with lots of olive oil and chopped rosemary.
Italian spinach doesn’t seem to wilt and disappear as much as the stuff I’ve had in the UK. Anyway, roughly chop whatever spinach you can and steam it in a thick saucepan with a spoonful of butter and a grating of nutmeg.