Italian Main Course Dishes:
Meat, Poultry and Fish Recipes

Tradtitional Italian meals have a familiar, predictable sequence. Southern Italian families start their meals with a dish of pasta lightly dressed with sauce or butter and cheese while Northern Italians often eat a platter of polenta, gnocchi or risotto to begin their meal. After eating a starchy first course, the secondo follows. Regardless of the region of Italy, this second course is generally a hearty meat dish, though there is great variation on what may be served.

Many of the meat dishes in north Italy’s Lombardia region are made with poultry. Italian chicken recipes are served at many meals. More formal occasions may call for goose salame, foie gras or turkey stuffed with fruit, nuts, pork and veal.

Bordered by the Alpine mountains on one side and rivers on three others, rolling plains with mild weather are suited to grazing cattle. Many Italian beef recipes are included in Lombardia cuisine. Bollito Misto is a famous boilled supper made from a variety of cuts of beef and beef offal. They are boiled and served with mustard flavored candied fruits.

There are also many Italian pork dishes that come from Lombardia. Cascoeûla is a succulent stew made with pork meat, ribs and skin along with the pig’s head. The meat is gently simmered with wine and herbs. A cold salad known as nervetti in insalata is also popular. Pork feet and shanks are simmered in broth. After being cooked until tender, the meat is dressed with vinagrette and chilled.

Traveling south, Emilia-Romagna is well known for their luxurious cuisine.This area’s brodetto, or fish soup, is one of most delicious Italian fish recipes along the Adriatic coast. They also enjoy eel grilled, simmered in a tomato sauce or roasted.

Italian pork recipes from this region include a variety of handmade sausages. Sausage made from pork feet are cooked with lentils to ensure good luck for the New Year.

One of the most well known Italian chicken recipes is chicken cacciatore, or chicken prepared hunter style. Chicken is cooked with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and wine and sauteed until tender. Another popular poultry dish is cappone ripieno. This capon is filled with ham and veal and roasted.

Tuscany is the neighboring region to Emilia-Romagna. Their recipes are known for being elegant despite only containing a few simple ingredients. The towns along the coast are famous for their Italian fish recipes. Baccalà alla fiorentina is salt cured codfish stewed with garlic, onions and tomatoes. Another seafood soup comes from Tuscany. Cacciucco is a tomato soup with mixed seafood and hot chili peppers. Unlike most of the other Italian fish recipes in Tuscany, this recipe is intensely spicy.

One famous example of Italian chicken recipes from Tuscany is arrosto misto. The chickens are spit roasted along with other game or pork, seasoned very simply and served with bread. Another of the local Italian chicken recipes is cibreo, a stew using chicken meat, giblets, cock combs and unborn eggs.

Tuscany is home to many Italian beef recipes. Bistecca alla fiorentina is charcoal grilled steak that is seasoned simply with salt, pepper and good olive oil, sliced thickly and served family style with locally grown beans.  Tripe and tomatoes are served over bread after simmering in an herb and wine broth until tender.

Wild boar is often served in local Italian pork recipes. It may be grilled, roasted, stewed or made into sausages. A local specialty known as cinghiale in dolceforte is wild boar stew finished with fruits, chocolate and vinegar.

Calabria is the region at the toe of the boot of Italy. Surrounded by the Tyrrhenian waters, the local seafood is used in many Italian fish recipes. Tuna is served in a piquant vinegar and onion sauce and swordfish is served roasted with capers, lemon, olive oil and parsley.

Baccalà, salt cured cod, is enjoyed stewed with peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. The smaller fish are also popular in Italian fish recipes. Sardines are served fried whole with garlic and mint flavored oil and vinegar dressing.

Italian pork recipes are commonly served despite being a land of shepherds. The pork is used in salame to keep it from spoiling. In keeping with the Italian traditions of using the entire animal, offal is used in many ways. Pork and liver pie known as murseddo is a savory pie flavored with peppers and tomatoes. Organ meats are also stewed in a wine flavored sauce with tomatoes and peppers.

While many people associate Italy with meals of pasta, the truth is that meat is enjoyed on a regular basis. Italian chicken recipes, seafood, beef or pork dishes are served as a second course at any midday meal.


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