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Involtino di Pollo in Rome/Florence/Bologna/Venice?

Had an outstanding chicken dish - Pollo Involtini - at an authentic-style Italian restaurant in Colorado called Ti Amo. Looking to recreate my experience, but bring it to the next level in ITALY!! :)
Will be there in October. Does anyone know where to get this amazing dish??

On the menu at the restaurant in Colorado, it is described as:

Chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella and garlic, wrapped with prosciutto and topped in a chianti wine sauce, served with sautéed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes


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  1. I would make a modest bet that that combination of ingredients is nowhere to be found in Italy. There is nothing authentic about it, starting with the concept of chicken involtini, though why that should be, I can't tell you. Sliced boned chicken breasts are easy to come by. But mozzarella, garlic, chianti, potatoes, spinach just wouldn't be found together. They are too different. Mozzarella and Chianti are from two different planets (Campania and Tuscany).

    8 Replies
    1. re: mbfant

      I'm fine if there isn't spinach or potatoes! So you think it will be nearly impossible just to find the chicken wrapped in prosciutto stuffed with mozzarella and garlic?

      1. re: chattys82

        there are certainly italian recipes for this type of dish (thefirst linked one uses fontina the second has mozz, ham and garlic,both are sauced with white wine (seems to fit better for me) but I cant say I have ever seen either dish in a restaurant in Italy. chicken in general is much less commonly served than in US restaurants, where white meat chicken sometimes seems like the only meat on the menu other than steaks or burgers..


        1. re: jen kalb

          Those recipes appear to be somebody's invention (as opposed to traditional), but yes, if you take the Chianti and garlic mashed potatoes out of the equation, the credibility increases. Still, chicken has practically dropped off the restaurant radar, unfortunately.

          1. re: mbfant

            How about Involtini di Maiale? I can see an American restaurant substituting chicken for pork.

            1. re: wally

              You can make an involtino of anything, but I don't recall ever seeing pork because you don't often find pork sliced thin like that. The most common involtini are beef and swordfish. The more I think about chicken involtini the less improbable they seem except that chicken is so unusual in restaurants, and of course the Chianti and garlic mashed potatoes of the OP. I have a vague recollection of excellent involtini of faraona at Grano, in Rome. Faraona, guinea fowl, is morally chicken but more likely to be on the menu. My husband once brought home some thin-sliced turkey for involtini. I resisted as long as I could then made them and had to confess they were good. Of course I used so much cheese, bread crumbs, and oil that he should have just bought the beef.

              1. re: mbfant

                The most common involtini in the north of Italy (Tuscany and north) are involtini di vitello. It's around in restaurants, but not very often. This is definitely a dish that is more traditionally cooked at home.

                1. re: mbfant

                  Because so many Milanese vacation in Liguria and are weight-conscious when it comes to being seen on the beach, turkey breast is readily available from the butchers as a substitute for veal (to be used in breaded cutlets as well as making involtlni).

                  I've had turkey breast cutlets layered with prosciutto in Bologna, but never chicken or faraoana (which is mostly served cold, sliced paper thin).

                  What is this "morally" chicken thing? It increasingly seems one needs to keep a catechism close by reading Chowhound.

                  1. re: mbfant

                    Pork is certainly the meat of choice in Calabria, and traditionally so. My family there enjoys involtini di maiale in many ways, braised in ragu, grilled, and baked. I'm not sure how the pork is purchased, or even what cut it might start out as, but it certainly ends up thinly sliced, stuffed, and rolled. The stuffings vary somewhat, but are mostly mollica-garlic-parsley--maybe a little shredded scamorza if it's around the house and always grated pecorino. No red wine sauce, of course, and simple contorni.

        2. One see chicken breast sliced thin all the time by butchers Italy for home cooking. In Venetian restaurants that do do not cater inclusively to visitors, I hardly ever see chicken on the menu in any form. Eat Pollo Involtini when you are home; when visiting each city, eat the food that those cities are is known for.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PBSF

            The wisest advice in this thread. If you want to optimize your eating in Italy, rather than look for a dish you've had in Colorado, read up on the cooking of Rome, Florence, Bologna and Venice - they're all very different from each other - and eat the local dishes,

          2. Sorry I'm jumping in a bit late to the conversation. While chicken, or turkey, involtini aren't necessarily traditional, they are very very common these days. While you might not see them in a lot of restaurants, you do see them in almost every high end butcher in both Florence and Rome. Besides selling cuts of meats, butchers in the big cities (especially in the more well to do neighborhoods) sell a variety of 'prepared' dishes.

            The fillings always change, according to the season. But if you ask how to cook them, the butcher will almost always suggest using wine. So if you are in Tuscany, Chianti would probably be your wine at hand.


            By prepared, I mean that they take cuts of meat, season, stuff, grind or roll them, so that all you need to do is take them home and cook them. Involtini of all shapes, sizes and meats are one of the most common things to find. For instance, if you are in Rome, stop by the butcher in Campo de' Fiori, and he regularly has at least four or five different versions, including turkey or chicken.

            1. @chattys82,

              I had a thought walking down the stairs today:

              If you are going to Florence, think you might enjoy eating the famous chicken with butter at Sostanza? (petti di pollo al burro)

              Might be a new high, and one unique to the locale.

              I've never eaten at Sostanza, so it's not a personal recommendation, but I gather from many, many Chowhound posts and food guides that this chicken is a very rewarding experience -- maybe even beter than Ti Amo's Pollo Involtini. You might want to check it out since you are going to Florence.


              11 Replies
              1. re: barberinibee

                I will personally recommend Sostanza - I love that dish so much that I will be in Rome for 3 days in September and am taking the train to Florence and back one day just so I can have the chicken for lunch at Sostanza!

                1. re: ekc

                  Wow. Given the costs of fast trains from Rome to Florence, that is quite a recommendation for a chicken dish!

                2. re: barberinibee

                  Just be careful. Because once you have Sostanza's butter chicken, it's kind of like crack. You can't stop thinking about it, until you are able to have it once again. It is amazing! And completely unique.


                  1. re: minchilli

                    would you recommend this chicken dish for lunch or dinner? it sounds delicious!!

                    1. re: andreamnyc

                      Andrea, I would recommend it for any meal! The chicken and the artichoke "omlette" and I am a happy girl.

                      1. re: ekc

                        what is it about it? is it the texture of the chicken? Is it smooth and moist like say the poached chicken in hainanese chicken rice?

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          I am not familiar with hainanese chicken rice, but it the chicken is very smooth and moist. Of course, everything is better cooked in Italian butter ...

                          1. re: ekc

                            It's all about the butter. Elizabeth is right: I can'[t get back soon enough.

                    2. re: minchilli

                      Obviously, I totally agree Elizabeth!

                      1. re: ekc

                        i just called to make a reservation and i found out they are closed in August!! too bad... i'll have to go there next time!

                  2. Chicken rarely makes the menu in Bologna or most of Emilia-Romagna - it is not a highly rated meat. Guinea hen and rabbit are considered much finer. I have yet to see a chicken "panino" nor do I know of any traditional pasta dressings that use chicken meat as the main component - a chicken liver or two added to a beef ragù maybe, but not a chicken only ragù. And only people on a diet - and children - value chicken or turkey breast. For most people breast meat is just dry and stringy and nowhere near as juicy or tasty as meat near the bone - the wings, backbone and thighs are what most locals traditionally prefer.

                    Regarding involtini, veal is most often used - it is tender and not having a strong flavour of its own it is considered OK to add flavours through the filling ingredients. Even so, I have seen pork and beef involtini on menus too. Involtini is the word used here for what more southern Italian regions call "bragiole" or "braciole". Whereas in the north "braciole" are chops, as in veal or pork chops. Confusing!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: carmelita

                      Not to pick on poor carmelita here, but trattorie in Bologna I've been to offer chicken breast regularly as a secondo (I specifically recall eating it at La Mariposa, where it was terrible), and have seen "pollo alla cacciatore" on other menus, and roast chicken with potatoes. While I agree that using chicken in a pasta sauce is unusual almost everywhere in Italy, the "traditional" menu at the pricey I Portici in Bologna serves a tagliatelle that uses chicken as its main meat, or at least it did last year. Again, I chalk this up to people being more weight-conscious and drifting away from pork.

                      Also, even in Bologna, I'm not surprised to see prosciutto in dishes that also have garlic (the special house pasta at Il Tinello has prosciutto, cream and garlic), and outside of Emilia-Romagna, I've seen many primis that use prosciutto and peas (or fave) that also have garlic.

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        Chicken first, garlic second : ))

                        Personally I love a good roast chicken and will sometimes buy a nice big heavy free range bird - 2 1/2 to 3 kilos. I do everything I can to make the breast tasty and tender. My Italian friends will eat the wings, thighs, drumsticks and even nibble at the back bone leaving the breast till the very last, untouched. Then someone usually picks at a piece and is pleasantly surprised to find it is not dry and stringy as they'd imagined. And it gets eaten.

                        Restaurants that serve chicken are using the cheapest meat around, and yes it is becoming more common as "la crisi" hits, just as the ragù Bolognese in town is getting redder as restaurants bulk out what is essentially a meat sauce with ever more tomato. Butchers here sell chicken and people eat chicken breast though mainly it is children having breaded chicken cotoletta or people controlling their diet for a variety of reasons. Incidentally today's "light pigs" means loin of pork now has fewer calories that chicken meat especially when the chicken skin is not removed.

                        I certainly believe that some restaurants serve chicken but none of the restaurants that I frequent in the city or in the countryside with Bolognese and Romagnolo friends. Btw my friends here are locals not ex pats and the only time I eat out with non Italians is when I have foreign friends over for a visit. What I notice is that the restaurants that my non Italian friends like most are not the same as the ones my local friends like.


                        When new here and cooking with Italian friend I'd ask "How much garlic?" They'd look at me as if I were mad and answer "one clove of course, or we might as well just eat garlic!" That's not a question I ask any longer. Neither do I any longer say, as I sniff the air appreciatevly, "Smells good in here, lovely smell of garlic" . Because panic ensues with the cook asking me if they should start the dish over, worrying they've overdone the garlic, or assuring me it was just one clove which they have already taken out. before it coloured and got too strong tasting.

                        Procsiutto, cream and garlic sounds like an ill-judged attempt to make a simple dish "restauramt worthy". To me it is off puttng, as is the thought of introudicng garlic in the classic Bologna / Emilia-Romagna pasta "condimento", prosciutto and peas. You say outside of Emilia-Romagna barberinibee , so I guess they know no better : )

                        But have you noticed the new trend of no garlic in basil pesto? I've heard / read Italian food critics saying now we have good refrigeration and food conservation we no longer need to add garlic to our food for its disinfectant and antibiotic properties, as in the past. Just as we no longer need to add lots of fat to our food given our heated houses and our very sedentary life style.

                        Yes the times are really changing, in all kinds of ways.

                        1. re: carmelita


                          To be perfectly honest, I weary of these long posts where people invoke the authority of Italians. There are plenty of restaurants that have been operating for years in Bologna that are serving a secondo of chicken breast to locals. Such places are where students and professors eat, as well as people who fully quality as well pedigreed natives.

                          The pasta special at Il Tinello is just homey. It is not "an ill-judged attempt to make a simple dish "restauramt worthy". It's just the chef's personal recipe. As for I Portici, it is one of the most expensive restaurants in Bologna, not one of the cheapest.

                          Yes, in the years of Berlusconi, we of course saw a lot of "no garlic" in basil pesto. Where I live in Liguria, you would find pasta fresca shops selling "pesto vero" and "pesto Milanese" side by side. With Berlusconi temporarily gone, we've seen less of that. Personally, I hope none of it returns. Ligurian cooking is very much influenced by its long and interesting interaction with garlicky Spain. The Mediterranean has its own culture, and doesn't feel a need to mimic other areas of Italy.

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            Just my experiences barberinibee. I work with visitors to Italy and socialise with locals, eating in and out with this last group mainly I find it curiously fascinating that there is a clear difference between what locals and non locals prefer restaurant wise. .

                            Thanks for the info on Liguria's long interaction with garlicky Spain. I had always thought it must be due to its proximity to garlicky France. I like your basil pesto as it was meant to be, btw, and think Liguria has a wonderful cuisine.

                            You already told me how much you dislike Trattoria Tony : )

                            1. re: carmelita

                              People go round and round on this board on the eating habits of Italian locals. I too was fascinated, in moving to Italy, to begin to unravel the attitude of locals about eating in restaurants, and when and why they chose one place over another.

                              I think it is a pity that so many travelers have been steered away from some really enjoyable eating experiences by the notion that they should follow the locals into this or that other place. I seem to recall that both of us recommend Da Gianni to visitors in Bologna. Plenty of locals enjoy the food there and bring out-of-town guests to enjoy it too. But it is also true that many locals balk at the slightly higher prices or just prefer their neighborhood eatery, either for a particular dish or because they are well-known and treated like family.

                              When I stayed for an extended period in the Jewish ghetto in Bologna, I developed a positive craving for some of the pasta dishes in the nearest eateries, even though I almost never recommend those places to others. They are too uneven. I've never walked by Trattoria Tony when it wasn't full, and I'm sure many people love it not only for the cheap price and the friendly owner but just because after a while they crave the way Trattoria Tony makes a certain dish.

                              My view is that all people on Chowhound can do is share their personal enthusiasms, plus listen to what it is travelers are looking for as a dining experience, and wanting to eat with the locals if a perfectly valid experience to seek out, even if it sometimes means lesser quality food. For the fundamentals of Italy's astonishing variety of regional cuisines and quirks and eating habits, in and out of restaurants, I think people would do better to read a few books, and then go with an open mind, not a catechism in the head.

                    2. @chattys82

                      Consider the fact that you had "Pollo Involtini" in a restaurant in Colorado. Then consider you will have all of Italy literally at your feet in October. Please enjoy the dishes of each region and forget what you had in Colorado. Even the most "authentic" of Italian dishes in the US do not compare to the simplest dishes in most trattoria in Italy. Buon appetito!

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        I couldn't agree more with your sound advice ttoommyy ! Especially as, reading the description of the Colorado dish, it sound so UN Italian: way too may ingeredients, too many things in there.

                        Here we might combine chicken, prosicutto and mozzarella but that's about it. Garlic with prosciutto? Never! Garlic twice as it's also in the potatoes? It's going to take over and kill the other flavours. And then a wine sauce on top? Italy doesn't exactly go in for sauces beyond the pan juices from the cooking. I have a feeling the the poor old chicken, not to mention the prosciutto, would be overwhelmed by the rest.

                        In Italy a chicken dish is about the chicken. It is not considered a successful dish because you add a long list of other ingredients to it. It is considered a succesful dish if the main ingredent - chicken - tastes like the very best chicken that could ever be, with the other ingredients subordinate, there only to enhance the taste of the chicken and not co compete with it or take over.

                        So yes, I agree with ttoommyy, do not go hunting in Italy for a dish you had in the US but enjoy the great variety of delicious food Italy offers. Exciting new taste adventures lie ahead!!

                        1. re: carmelita

                          "Garlic with prosciutto?" "Never!"

                          What an incredible statement. I guess that all of the meals I've had in the last 35 years in restaurants (more than 1700), must have been in a country other than Italy.

                          1. re: allende

                            To be precise. never in italy. If you have found 1700 restaurants in Italy serving prosicutto with garlic in Italy it is my turn to be amazed.

                            1. re: carmelita

                              First of all, to be precise, please note that I didn't say I had found 1700 restaurants in Italy serving dishes that had both prosciutto with garlic.

                              Secondly, I was replying to your comment that in cooked dishes, one would never have prosciutto with garlic. I know that is an incorrect statement.

                              Carmelita, with all due respect, there are many, many dishes served in restaurants in Italy, that are cooked with both prosciutto and garlic.

                              1. re: allende

                                "Secondly, I was replying to your comment that in cooked dishes, one would never have prosciutto with garlic."

                                To clarify, I believe carmelita was talking about Italy only; not all over the world.

                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                  Yes I was talking about Italy only, thank you ttoommyy, I appreciate your calming of the waters move!.

                                  There are always exceptions, but there are some basics too. As many people posting on this board are aware, despite general outside Italy perceptions, Italy's is not a garlicky cuisine; because Italians value flavour, and garlic can so easily take over.

                                  Prosciutto is an ancient and much prized artisan product. When using it for cooking, you don't choose the best prosciutto - that you save to savour uncooked. Even so, out of respect for prosciutto crudo, one would not pit it against it the strong and potentially overpowering flavour of garlic. As a general rule...

                                  OK so I'm retracting just a little bit on on the "never" but would stand by my view that it is not common practice here in Italy, it is not typically Italian and most Italian "foodies", for want of a better word, would recoil at the thought - onion with prosciutto yes, garlic no.

                                  1. re: carmelita


                                    Again, with all due respect, here in the northern part of Italy where I live and travel, people who know a great deal about food, restaurateurs for example ( but also good home cooks), would be amused at your comment that they would recoil at the thought of prosciutto and garlic cooked together and that "garlic can so easily take over." They would also be amused at your statements that "it is not common practice here in Italy" (whatever "common practice" means) and "not typically Italian" (whatever that means because Italy is not one country with regard to food). I happen to be in Friuli right now. I swear that minestra last night had prosciutto (from San Daniele) and garlic in it; at least that's what the cook said.

                                    Perhaps, you're used to using garlic which is "dried" (by dried, I mean bulbs which are not fresh) which is common in the UK for example. If one uses fresh garlic as we find in our fruttivendolo and farmer's markets where we live in Italy, you would find that in fact garlic (particularly if you remove the sprout/ germ) does not "easily take over" a dish. In fact, it is mild, not as you say "the strong and potentially overpowering flavor of garlic." Used incorrectly, any ingredient can overpower a dish. Used correctly, garlic, even when used with prosciutto, can be sublime.

                                    Next topic.

                                    1. re: allende

                                      I live in Bologna. It would never occur to me cook with anything other than fresh garlic.

                                      1. re: carmelita

                                        @ Carmelita
                                        Oh, you live in Bologna? We'll be there for 3 nights in October. Any must-go restaurants you can recommend for lunch/dinner? Preferably ones that are authentic Bolognese cuisine, and located in the city center? We're staying at the Al Cappello del Rosso hotel. Thanks!

                                        1. re: chattys82

                                          You are in Bologna during mushroom and truffle time, weather permitting and staying right in the centre, fantastic!!

                                          My non Italian friends all love and adore La Traviata in via Urbana, it does many excellent pastas though the range of secondi is limited. Trattoria Leonida in vicoloa Alemana is also well liked, lots of choices on the menu and very Bolognese food. Also Da Gianni in via Clavature where it is difficult to go wrong. And for a special meal - mainly for the ambience and the charm of the host Emanuele - La Drogheria della Rosa in via Cartoleria. Which I enjoy too though I find the pasta dishes and rich sauces there heavy, so i usually order fish to stay light.

                                          My Italian friends on the other hand would head for Da Nello in via Montegrappa that time of year for sure, to feast on battered fried artichokes for starters, and then for mushroom and truffle dishes. They might even have Pappardelle with game on the menu if you are here later in the month. Relatively new but a big hit with all the food critics, chefs, gourmets and wine lovers is Osteria Bottega in via Santa Caterina, fantastic for the Prosciutti, salamis etc, and for the wine list and they serve excellent if slightly "revisted" pastas and main courses. The Osteria Santa Caterina in the same quiet street has a pretty back courtyard, and also does excellent salumi and pastas, good main courses and home style desserts. Some of my friends find it more charmng, more reasonably priced and less "ambitious" than its neighbour and much prefer it of the two - you could try both and see which you prefer! For homey traditional food some local friends also like the simple Meloncello in via Saragozza or Trattoria Tony in via Augusto Righi.

                                          I would eat happily at all of these myself, but there are many others - you may want to get some more opinions!

                                          1. re: carmelita


                                            i also enjoy Da Gianni, but I think All' Osteria Bottega is only worth the price if you definitely are there to eat cured meat. Personally, I can't stand Trattoria Tony. It's cheap, and tastes like it. I haven't tried Meloncello.

                                            1. re: carmelita

                                              Ive seen other recommendations of Da Nello - thanks for the reminder!

                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                I second Da Nello for mushroom and truffle dishes in autumn, but if you are in Bologna at other times of the year, I'd skip it (and even in autumn I wouldn't go with extremely high expectations).

                                                I also meant to add that I've eaten at Leonida and found the food stodgy. It is popular among local professionals.

                                                1. re: barberinibee

                                                  can you expand upon what you mean by stodgy? your criteria may or may not have relevance to another eater

                                                  You just cant know what would the a good meal for another (as youve said above). One visitor might simply be looking for a simple tasty inexpensive and "typical" trattoria experience another for a meal that exhibits all the refinement of the local cuisine etc.

                              2. re: allende

                                seems like never is a little strong.

                                I do think that amping up the garlic on the plate the way the Colorado recipe does is not typical especially in No. Italy where the use is more restrained. Wouldnt you expect to see the garlic and prosciutto more in the seasoning base of a dish or ragu than presented front and center like Colorado?

                          2. @chattys82

                            In addition to my other comment, I just want to let you know that "Pollo Involtini" translates into English as "chicken rolls." So even if this dish did exist in Italy and you found 100 restaurants serving it, there literally could be 100 different Interpretations of it. It is not as if "Pollo Involtini" is a traditional Italian dish with set ingredients; it's just a generic name given to the dish you had in Colorado. I hope this clarifies things a bit more.

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: ttoommyy

                              All of you are so knowledgeable :) After doing research on Rome cuisine the last couple of weeks, I have become much more excited to try the dishes that are exclusive to Rome rather than my Colorado chicken dish! Some of these restaurants just sound absolutely amazing and I cannot wait to try them! It cracks me up that my initial post about that Colorado dish has sparked such interesting conversation...

                              Thanks so much again!

                              1. re: chattys82

                                @ ttoommyy

                                Of course Carmelita was talking about Italy only. I thought I made that clear; we're on the Italy board, so I'm not speaking about the rest of the world.

                                The fact of the matter is, as I said, that it is an incorrect statement that in Italy one would never have prosciutto and garlic cooked in a dish.

                                Do you agree or disagree?

                                1. re: allende

                                  "The fact of the matter is, as I said, that it is an incorrect statement that in Italy one would never have prosciutto and garlic cooked in a dish. Do you agree or disagree?"

                                  I really don't know enough about Italian restaurants to make a definite statement on that subject allende, so I will discreetly bow out of this particular conversation. I was just diplomatically trying to clarify what carmelita said since to me it looked like the two of you had your wires crossed. I apologize for stepping in.

                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                    So is it fair to say that, as a general rule and allowing for the possibility of exceptions, most Italian cooks would not combine dried garlic and prosciutto in the same dish?

                                    1. re: erica

                                      What do you mean by dried garlic?

                                      1. re: allende

                                        I mean garlic which has lost all trace of green and formed into a head comprised of separate cloves. Usually the head is white, perhaps with a tinge of purple or pink--the type you might see in a supermarket here in the US (sadly, often from China)


                                        as opposed to the fresher version we find in our greenmarkets in spring...(reference your post above..



                                        This thread has sparked my curiosity..I have no opinion either way..

                                        1. re: erica

                                          I see erica, I had an image of dehydrated garlic like dried Porcini or something.

                                          I love green garlic, before it has formed into the usual papery skinned garlic bulb we know, it has its own quite different aroma. It is not common here in Italy, I pounce on it whenever I see it in the spring time, some years yes, some years no.

                                          The separate clove garlic you describe is the "regular" garlic to me and it is what I use most of the time. Like all good Italian cooks, I am careful to remove the difficult to digest shoot as the garlic gets older. Right now the garlic I get in Bologna market is still fresh enough that the shoot has not yet formed.

                                          1. re: carmelita

                                            @ erica,

                                            Where I live in italy, there are three different types of garlic. There is the "fresher version" that you referenced, which we get for three months a year in the spring, every year, where my house is.

                                            In the Alta Badia, we also get this in July and if we're fortunate, into August, depending on the weather. This year it is still around up here.

                                            Then there is the "regular" garlic that has formed a slight skin and does not have the germ and and finally there is the "older regular" garlic with a thicker skin where the germ should be removed.

                                            On the topic of garlic and prosciutto, I looked at one book each by Giuliano Bugialli, Marcella Hazan and Lynne Rosetto Kasper, the later two natives of ER and Giuliano, of course, a native Florentine. All three books, even with just a quick glance, have many recipes using garlic and prosciutto together. A look at their other books will, I am sure, show me many more recipes using both ingredients together.

                                            When I have the chance, I'll speak with my friends who own restaurants in ER, Lombardia, Friuli, Tuscany, Piemonte and the Alta Badia and see what they say. Why is it that I think I know what their answer will be. Could it be that over a long period of time, when we've been at their restaurants, we've had many dishes that had both garlic and prosciutto in them!? So much for the thought, by a poster, that Italians would never cook prosciutto and garlic in the same dish.

                                          2. re: erica

                                            mature garlic does not necessarily = dried garlic. It seems tome that as long as the cloves are juicy and the green sprout is not too large (it would be removed) this is not dried garlic but the normal market product, which is harvested, at a specific point in development when the cloves have reached their maximum size - the garlic is then harvested, and allowed to dry a bit so that there is the outer papery covering to protect the head and it can be stored or kept til use. this is what I see in Italian markets - the immature or "fresh" product in greenmarkets is much more perishable. I am not sure what Allende refers to other than old or overly dried out garlic that one finds at the end of the season or in backwaters where not much is used (like my hometown in Ohio)

                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                              In an earlier post today, I used the phrase dried garlic to distinguish it from the fresh garlic. I should have used "regular" garlic (which I did in my last posting).

                                              Unfortunately, in The States, one typically finds that the regular garlic is old all the time. That's just a personal observation of what I see at Whole Foods and in the "Italian" markets in New York. Depending on where you are, that is not the case in Italy.

                                              1. re: allende

                                                I think you are generally correct, although much depends on the time of year. These days, as I mentioned before, there is a lot of Chinese garlic around, recognizable by the sheared stem end, and which tends to be much cheaper than local or California grown garlic and does not look very fresh to these eyes.

                                                But we can get fresh garlic at Greenmarkets in season.

                                                1. re: erica

                                                  not that its relevant to Italy but I dont buy the chinese garlic. For whatever reason it as you note it doesn not always look fresh and it seems to age differently in terms of sprouting drying and changing color, and I dont like that aspect,

                                                  1. re: erica


                                                    I'm with allende when it comes to not only distinguishing the different types of garlic that are available at various times of year, and which impart different flavors to food -- but also in emphasizing that combining prosciutto and garlic is just so normal in Italy that I was taken aback to read Carmelita's rigid and mythical dogmas about it.

                                                    Plenty of Italians don't like garlic. They leave it out of their cooking. Plenty of Italians don't worship prosciutto. They incorporate it in recipes as a needed fat.

                                                    I will also toss in here that there are some garlics in Liguria that are considered quite special and worth paying more for. I imagine the same is true elsewhere in other parts of Italy. It is also true that there is no one unified Italian attitude about garlic, and some regions have developed many great plates without it. Many of the greatest Ligurian dishes don't use it.

                                                    There has developed a kind of cliche set of "rules" and markers about what is and what isn't authentic Italian cuisine that, to me, needs a corrective. I appreciate people wanting to educate about the regional differences, and I appreciate how much chicanery there is out there in fancy restaurants or false recipes peddled in magazines -- but I also think people are forgetting that a great deal of Italian cooking has been about using what's available, and developing a personal home style in the kitchen, which -- when we are lucky -- finds its way into restaurants.

                                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                                      My passion is for traditional home food in this country.

                                                      I agree, regional Italian cuisine is all about using what is or isn't available locally and the genius of home cooks is how over the years they created such tasty dishes from at times a very limited produce range. Yes, there are some great regional dishes celebrating garlic, where garlic is the undisputed star of the dish. And it is also very true that different regions quite naturally especially value their own local specialities that they grew up with and know intimately and love. And they may well have a less reverential approach to the specialities of regions other than their own..

                                                      As others have emphasised, one of the great things about eating in italy is the enormous variety and range spanned by its regional cuisines, and all the variety and range *within* the cuisine of each region. Yet there are a few shared fundamentals that underlie and unite them regardless of local variations of territory, climate and history. Eating what grows locally and in season is one such priniciple; enhancing the flavour of the main ingredient rather than masking it is another. I venture to say, and readers of this thread will have seen two authoratative posters strongly disagree wih me, that handling garlic with care and using it only where appropriate is yet another.

                                                      For all that it is a simplification and a generalisation to speak of "Italian" cuisines, I think it is true that in general "Italian home food" could not be broadly summed up as "garlicky".

                                                      1. re: carmelita

                                                        Your last sentence in the penultimate para has totally misrepresented what I, and barberinibee, said. The last sentence in the last para implies something that we did not say. I would very much appreciate if you would stop misrepresenting things to suit your own needs.

                                                        You said in a prior post, "Garlic with prosciutto? Never! " I thought I had thoroughly refuted that by mentioning that I have had on many occasions in Italy, garlic with prosciutto. Also mentioned was the fact that Bugialli, Hazan and Kasper have recipes that use garlic and prosciutto together.

                                                        At one point you said "OK so I'm retracting just a little bit on on the "never" but would stand by my view that it is not common practice here in Italy." So never became not never.

                                                        I'm at a loss to understand why you imply that anyone, particularly barberiniibee and I, said that Italian cuisine is "garlicky." In fact I took pains to say "Used incorrectly, any ingredient can overpower a dish. Used correctly, garlic, even when used with prosciutto, can be sublime."

                                                        I think if you are going to post here, it would be a good idea to state your thoughts as you wish, but please do not misstate the thoughts of others, as you have done, in order to try to prove your point. Common courtesy requires it.