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Friday, March 20, 2015

Radicchio or Chicorée Italienne on French Menus

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

The red Radicchio.
Photograph courtesy of wayne marshall.
Radicchio, Chicorée Italienne or Chicorée Rouge and Chioggia.
Radicchio: a family of leafy vegetables from the chicory family.  Radicchios began in Italy as hybrids and quickly became popular in France.  Despite the variety of radicchios available in France, most will be in the markets and on the menu just as Chicorée Rouge or Radicchio. The limited use of their original names, is a copyright problem. Despite that radicchios are very much part of the French kitchen.
Young radicchio leaves will be included, uncooked, in salads while larger leaves will be fried or grilled and served as a garnish. In Northern Italy, as well as Italian restaurants in France, cooked radicchio will be served with pasta and inside ravioli.  As  the radicchio is related to chicory they also bring a slightly bitter taste, especially in larger leaves. However, cooking removes most, but not all, of the bitterness. Radicchio has, in fact, a light bitter taste that grows on you. In salads, young radicchio leaves offer a pleasant contrast among other salad leaves.
Chicorée - Radicchio on the French Menu.
Le Risotto à la Chicorée Rouge, Parmesan et Champignons Sautés – A risotto made with red chicory, Parmesan cheese and lightly fried button mushrooms.
Rémoulade de Radis Noir et Chicorée Rouge.  Black radishes and red chicory served with a mustard and mayonnaise-based sauce. Black radishes come from the same family as the red radish. However, in a dish such as this, the black radishes will almost certainly be served peeled as just under the peel they have a strong bite.
Seiches Avec Haricots Cannellini, Olives et Chicorée Rouge de Chioggia. Cuttlefish served with Italian cannellini beans, olives, and the Chioggia Radicchio. Cannellini are dried white Italian beans. These beans are both  imported and  grown in France. In French dishes, the cannellini bean may sometimes replace the traditional French white Haricot Blanc.
Cœur de Ris de Veau Poele, Radicchio, Poireaux et Ail Noir De Aomori. The heart of lightly fried veal sweetbreads served with leaves from the red radicchio, leeks, and the black garlic of Aomori.
The black garlic of Aomori is a Japanese creation. To make this black garlic white garlic is marinated in seawater until it reaches a texture similar to prunes. Only a light garlic aroma remains, and the taste changes to a somewhat fruity taste with balsamic overtones. The Prefecture of Aomori is in the Northern part of Honshu, Japan’s largest Island.
Sweetbreads are one of the tastiest cuts of organ meat. However, from my knowledge and a short investigation the term the "heart of sweetbreads" has no real meaning. It may upgrade the menu but it remains just menuise and does not indicate a  specific cut.  I will have to write a post on sweetbreads, as these very tasty internal organs are not well known, outside of restaurants, in North America and the UK. 
Magret de Canard Poêlé, Choux et Radicchio Braisé – Lightly fried duck breast served with braised cabbage and braised radicchio leaves. When ordering duck breast remember that the French prefer theirs slight rosé, pink. If you prefer your duck well done tell the server.  Unlike steaks you will rarely be asked, in France, how you would like duck breast cooked.
Salade Chaude de Poulet Fermière, Radicchio di Treviso et sa Sauce à La Mangue. A warm chicken salad accompanied by leaves from the Treviso Radicchio, all served with a mango sauce,

Onglet de Bœuf Black Angus à la Chicorée Rouge à l'AnchoisA flank or skirt steak from the Black Angus beef served with an anchovy sauce made by blending anchovies with olive oil and radicchio.

The most popular radicchios in French markets.

On French menus the chicorée rouge or radicchio rouge will most probably come from one of the four most popular varieties.
Chicorée Rouge, Chicorée Rouge  di Chioggia, Radicchio di Chiogga, Radicchio Rosso di Chioggia IGP – 
The Red Radicchio or  the Chioggia Radicchio.
This is the best-known member of the radicchio family. It is nearly round with leaves the color of Burgundy, but with white ribs. Apart from the white ribs red chicory looks somewhere between a round red lettuce or a red cabbage. The Radicchio di Chioggia will mostly be seen in salads.  Though, like the other members of the radicchio family it may also be served grilled or prepared as part of a main dish.
This Radicchios origins come from around the town of Chioggia, Italy. The town of Chioggia  is in the same lagoon as Venice, Italy. If you are visiting Venice and have a day free, take a Vaporetto, a water bus, for a one hour and a half trip, within the Venice Lagoon, to Chioggia.

Photograph courtesy of andre_gas.
In Chioggia You will have an enjoyable and different day away from the crowds. Chioggia is the largest fishing port in the area, and  it also has canals. However, despite the name, the Radicchios de Chioggia do not come from the town.  The radicchios come the from the mainland opposite the town. The land there is also called Chioggia.  In this part of Chioggia,  it is the farmers, not the fishermen and women, who are famous. And their fame is not confined to radicchios.

The Chioggia radicchio in the languages of France’s neighbors:
 (German - radicchio rosso di Chioggia), (Italian - radicchio di Chioggia), (Spanish   - achicoria de Chioggia),

Chicorée Rouge di Chioggia  - The Radicchio Rosso di Chiogga
Chicorée  Tardive - Radicchio Tardivo di Traviso.   
Chicorée Rouge de Trévise or the Chicorée Trévise
Radicchio Rosso di Treviso IGP.
The Treviso Radicchio.

This long-leafed radicchio is excellent when grilled and will often be served as a garnish. Treviso and the area around are both a center of agriculture as well as a major center of Italian industry. Treviso is just a few miles down the road from the beautiful city of Vicenza to the west and Padova to its east. Treviso is 80 km from Venice.  

Chicorée Rouge de Trévise  or Radicchio Rosso di Treviso

This radicchio, as its secondary names indicate, is a late growing radicchio. A tardy winter member of the radicchio family. This is also the strongest tasting member of the radicchio family and best when grilled.
The Treviso Radicchio in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(German -  radicchio aus Treviso), (Italian  - radicchio rosso di Treviso), (Spanish achicoria rosa di Treviso ),

Chicorée  de Verona - Radicchio de Verona.
Radicchio di Verona IGP
The Verona Radicchio.
This is a small oval shaped radicchio. The smaller leaves will be used in salads and the larger leaves will be cooked, usually grilled. Verona, the town, is famous for its beautiful old town, its Roman amphitheater and, of course, the original setting of the story of Romeo and Juliet.

The Verona Radicchio in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Italian - radicchio rosso di Verona), (German  -  radicchio di Verona),  (Spanish - achicoria rosa di Verona).
Radicchio de Verona.
Photograph courtesy of Artist in Doing Nothing
All these new radicchios, and many other  special hybrid vegetables, were developed along an agricultural line that follows the highway from Milan to Venice. Why, I do not know?  However, within that 100 km from Verona to Venice you will find some of the best Northern Italian cuisine  and an amazing collection of radicchios.
The radicchios served in French restaurants are mostly grown in France, though some are Italian imports. Radicchios, except for the Radicchio de Castelfranco, are mostly seen with a dark mauve color and white ribs. Moreover, surprisingly, if you drive through areas that grow radicchios you may be surprised to see only fields of green radicchios.  These green radicchios  are taken from the fields and placed in covered rooms with running water and kept completely in the dark.  There the natural photosynthesis that keeps the radicchio green is halted. Voila, the green radicchios continue to grow and become mauve.
Bringing in the radicchios.
Photograph courtesy of Dave_McGurgan.

Radicchios and the IGP lablel.

Most of the original varieties of radicchio from Italy are registered IGP names. IGP on English labels is written PGI for Protected Geographical Indication. Behind these labels are regulations from Pan-European agreements. These agreements permit a well-known food product or wine from a specific area to register its name and locality. That registration becomes an IGP/ PGI and limits,


The PGI label

 throughout the European Union. the use of a name to a specific area. That means that a Radicchio de Verona  grown in France cannot legally use the name Verona. With these restrictions the different radicchios appear on French menus and in the markets just as a radicchio or radicchio rouge. 

N.B.: Cheddar, a village in Somerset in the UK never tried to limit the manufacture of Cheddar Cheese to its original area. Cheddar has no IGP and consequently Cheddar Cheese may made anywhere.  The best Cheddar cheeses no longer come from Cheddar.
Connected posts:
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright: 2010, 2015
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