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Potato Gatto

3 pounds yellow Finn or red-skinned potatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 to 4 1-inch-thick slices country bread, torn into bite-size pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup milk
5 1/8-inch-thick slices (1/4 pound) Soppressata or other good-tasting salami, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 1/3 cups tiny frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella in liquid, drained and sliced 1/4 inch thick

Place potatoes in a 4-quart pot, cover with water, and simmer 25 minutes, or until tender. While potatoes cook, lightly film a 10-inch skillet with olive oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Quickly brown onions, seasoning with salt and pepper. Turn onions into a bowl. Wipe out skillet.

Turn on food processor, drop in peeled and minced garlic and the bread, and process until bread is in coarse crumbs (about 1/2-inch pieces) Film skillet again with oil. Add bread and stir over medium heat, sprinkling with salt and pepper, about 5 minutes, or until pale gold. Turn out onto a sheet of foil and cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil an 8-inch-square baking pan. Slice butter into a large bowl. Drain potatoes, peel, and add to bowl. Mash with a large fork, blending in Parmigiano, milk, salt and pepper to taste. The potatoes should be lumpy. Fold in salami and half of the peas. Spread half of the potato mixture in the baking dish. Top with remaining peas and onions, then the sliced mozzarella. Top with the rest of potatoes. (At this point, dish can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking.)

Bake about 30 minutes or until hot. Top with bread crumbs, pressing them into potatoes a bit. Bake another 10 minutes. Serve hot, cutting into 8 or more squares.

"The Italian Country Table"

Sunday, April 23, 2000

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