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  • Tiella

    This typically Puglian dish has as many variations as there are cooks. The biggest point of contention is whether you use rice, but other ingredients can be added or taken out. This recipe is based on the tiella Bari, which contains rice and mussels. I first tasted this dish in a seaside restaurant in Polignano al Mare, a small town south of Bari on the Adriatic coast. I tried to get the restaurant owner to give me the details. She simply shrugged and said, “It’s potatoes and mussels,” as if anyone would know immediately what went into the dish. Once I got home, I tried to recreate the dish and realized she was right: It was easy, which is something my cooking-class students and friends still find difficult to believe, given how delicious the results are. The dish is the perfect comfort food for summer, as it is light, yet full of flavor. It pairs well with a crisp Puglian rosé.
    • 1 pound (454 g) mussels
    • 1 cup (236 mL) dry white wine
    • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
    • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt, to taste
    • 10 (about ½ cup [118 mL]) grape tomatoes, quartered
    • 1 cup (236 mL) uncooked white rice
    • ½ cup (118 mL) grated pecorino cheese, for sprinkling
    • ½ cup (118 mL) toasted breadcrumbs, for sprinkling

    1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

    2. Wash the mussels and discard any that are open and will not close when touched. Put the mussels in a medium pan. Add the wine. Cover and cook over medium heat until the mussels are completely open, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Using a fork, take the mussels out of the shells and set them aside. Reserve some of the cooking liquid (a combination of wine and sea water from the mussels).

    3. In a medium baking dish, arrange a layer of onions, and then a layer of potato slices. Sprinkle with some olive oil and a little salt, and then layer half the tomatoes. Distribute half the rice as evenly as you can on top and add the mussels. Cover the mussels with more rice, tomatoes, and onions and end with a layer of potatoes. Sprinkle the top layer of potatoes with the remaining olive oil, the pecorino cheese, and the breadcrumbs. Pour some of the cooking liquid from the mussels and add water to come almost ¾ of the way up the sides of the dish. Cook for at least an hour, or until the potatoes are done (they should be tender when pierced with a fork).

Copyright © 2010 Viktorija Todorovska. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the publisher.

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