It’s another feast day within the Church. October 7th is known as Our Lady of the Rosary or Our Lady of Victory. This Feast Day was intended to honor a 16th century Naval victory that secured Europe against a superior Turkish invasion. If you want to learn more and have a wonderful meal, stick around. If not, that’s okay too.
By 1453; troops of the Turkish Ottoman Empire had invaded and occupied the Byzantine Empire. For the next hundred years or so, the Turks expanded their empire westward on land and asserted their superior naval power in the Mediterranean. When the Ottoman Empire attacked Malta in 1565; they envisioned an eventual invasion into Rome itself. Though repelled at Malta, the Turks captured Cyprus in the fall of 1570.
An alliance, known as The Holy League, was formed between Spain, Genoa and the Papal States, to defend Europe against the continuing Turkish invasion. Its fleets joined together and sailed near the west coast of Greece to confront the Turkish Navy. More than 200 ships carrying mostly Catholic sailors, began to pray the rosary as they sailed into battle. Encouraged by Pope Leo XIII, Catholics throughout Europe gathered in their churches to pray to Mary and ask for protection. When the smoke of battle settled, all but 13 of the nearly 300 Turkish ships were either captures or sunk. To mark this victory, the church instituted a feast day of celebration. However; you don’t have to be Catholic to like a good feast.
The Holy League
Spain: Spanish Garlic Chicken
Genoa: Parmesan Basil Risotto
The Papal States: Italian Parmesan Asparagus
Spanish Garlic Chicken
3 1/2 lb Chicken Fryer, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
10 cloves garlic, unpeeled, soaked in water to soften the skin
1/2 cup White Wine
2 Bay Leaves
Parsley for garnish
Remove the back, then cut the chicken into 8 pieces (legs, thighs, wings, breasts). Discard or freeze the wings. Cut the breasts in half to make the pieces more uniform in size.
Place the chicken pieces into a plastic bag together with flour, salt and pepper. Shake to coat.
Heat the oil in a frying pan that has a lid and add the chicken and garlic. The frying pan should be big enough to fit the chicken in one layer. Begin by frying the dark meat first, for 8 minutes, turning as needed. Add the white meat, continue to fry, turning it over from time to time until the skin begins to brown.
Add the wine and bay leaves and boil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid, and cook over low heat for 25-30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Pour a little bit of the garlic sauce over the chicken and serve.
If desired, squeeze the garlic from the skin and serve with the chicken.
Parmesan Basil Risotto
3 Shallots, peeled and finely chopped
6 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup lightly packed fresh Basil Leaves
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
3 tablespoons Butter
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
Whole Basil Leaves, for garnish
Shaved Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
Peel and finely mince the shallots. Set aside.
In a 3-quart pan over high heat, bring all the chicken stock to a simmer; cover and reduce heat to maintain simmer.
In a food processor, pulse basil, garlic, and 1 teaspoon olive oil until coarsely chopped. Add cheese and process until finely ground.
To a 6-quart pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. When hot and foaming, add shallots and stir often until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add rice and stir often until beginning to turn opaque, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add wine and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until almost absorbed, until 6 cups of stock have been slowly incorporated into the risotto. Stir in basil mixture and cook, stirring often, until rice tender to bite and mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes longer. If risotto is thicker than desired, stir in a little more of the remaining stock.
Garnish with small basil leaves and shaved Parmesan.
Italian Parmesan Asparagus
2 lbs Asparagus, trimmed
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
White Pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Trim asparagus, set aside.
Add 1/2-inch of water to a large skillet; add asparagus. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.
Arrange asparagus in a greased 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish. Melt the butter, then drizzle over the asparagus; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and pepper. Bake, uncovered, in the heated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Using tongs, lift asparagus from the baking dish to a serving platter.