Monday, May 24, 2010

Tegame alla Vernazzana

In October of 2008 we traveled to the Italian region of Liguria. One of the best things we ate on that trip (and we ate a lot of great things during those two weeks) was a dish called Tegame alla Vernazzana. We (well, I) ordered it by mistake, and what a happy mistake it was. We were served a gorgeous dish of anchovy fillets stewed with slices of yellow potato and tomatoes. The whole thing was laced with a rich, fruity olive oil and sprinkled with parsley. We scraped the plate clean, using all the bread we could to get every bit of that tomatoey-olive oily-fishy sauce.

After doing a little research it looks like "tegame" is a word for a covered baking dish. Vernazza was the town where we ate it. I guess the English translation of the
dish's name is "baked dish from Vernazza" - super descriptive. Working from the picture we took of our meal and a little web research, I pulled together this version.

In Vernazza our dish was made with fresh anchovies (see how nice and shiny they are?), but they are hard to find over here. In fact it's hard to find fresh sardines either. I decided to use canned sardines in my version. This also makes it a year-round dish, as opposed to a seasonal one. (An aside: For those who haven't ever tried a fresh anchovy and are thinking of the fillets found in cans, fresh anchovies are a totally different thing. They are oily, but no more than salmon. Their flavor is gently fishy, not strong at all and they are fabulous grilled, fried, sauteed or stewed. If you see them at your local fishmonger, snap 'em up.)

Here's my version of the dish. I hope to get back to Vernazza to try this dish again, but in the meantime, this will have to do.

Tegame alla Vernazzana
Serves 3-4
This dish was very good the next day, gently reheated. I added a splash of water to rehydrate the sauce.
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes or another buttery, boiling-type potato
  • good quality olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes or good-quality canned whole tomatoes, toran into pieces (I used Muir Glen)
  • 2 cans sardines in olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • dried oregano
Preheat the oven to 350.

Slice the potatoes into thick slices: about 1/2" thick. Simmer the potatoes in a pot of salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes.

Drain the potatoes.

In a casserole or baking dish with a lid (mine is an 10" braising pan), start layering the ingredients: glug a healthy dollop of olive oil into the pan. Lay in half the potatoes, half the tomatoes and all of the sardines. Season with salt and pepper and healthy sprinkle of oregano. Lay the rest of the potatoes and then the tomatoes over the top. Sprinkle more oregano over the dish and pour in the white wine.

Cover the dish and put it in the oven until the dish is hot and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve in a soup plate, drizzled with more olive oil.


Jonny Hamachi said...

Looks great.

Welcome to the Society.

Liz the Chef said...

I had fresh sardines in Amsterdam and can still taste how delicious they were. Can't find them here and your recipe looks like a great way to try the canned version.

Sunday Cook said...

Jonny - Thanks for the welcome. :) Just browsed you site and am very impressed with the variety of sardines you guys have sourced and eaten.

Liz - This works really well with canned sardines, but if you can get your hands on fresh mackerel, sardines, or maybe even bluefish, I would give them a try too.

Elise said...

I so wish it were easier to find fresh anchovies, or even fresh sardines for that matter! I love the simplicity of this dish. Yum.

Sunday Cook said...

Elise - I know. They are so good and so different from the canned variety. That said, the canned variety worked well in this dish, so while it is different, it is still very good.

People! Ask your fishmongers for anchovies and sardines. They won't stock them if they don't think people will buy them, so use your purchasing dollars as a tool for persuasion. :-)

Eric Faulkner said...

Nice to see you're back to blogging. We honeymooned in Finale Ligure and I've been heartbroken about leaving there ever since.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin