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Film Released: 1996
Genre: Drama comedy
Directed by: Stanley Tucci, Campbell Scott
Cast/Actors: Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci

 

Set in New Jersey, USA during the 1950s, Big Night is about two Italian immigrant brothers who decide to open an Italian restaurant. Primo, played by Tony Shalhoub is the chef and a purist when it comes to Italian Food and Secondo, played by Stanley Tucci is more business orientated and mainly concerned with the money side of things.

This division of labour leads the brothers to sometimes heated debates as to the future of the restaurant, with chef Primo insisting of keeping the integrity of authentic Italian food as opposed to Secondo who is prepared to compromise and serve “Americanised” dishes in order to keep the restaurant business afloat.

Enter Pascal, played by Ian Holm, whose local restaurant is going great guns having gone the other route, serving mediocre Italian “style" food. After a visit to the bank manager and being told just how bad things are financially, Secondo decides to ask Pascal for a loan without telling his brother .

Although he won’t loan him the money, Pascal offers help by arranging for Louis Prima, a famous band leader/trumpeter, and his travelling entourage to attend a banquet at Primo and Secondo’s restaurant. With the promise that the press would also be coming and would hopefully write amazing reviews about the restaurant and its fantastic authentic Italian food, Secondo agrees and the preparations for the big night begin in earnest. The best food and wine is sourced and lots of people invited to the free banquet which will set the restaurant on the road to fame.

On the big night, guests start arriving for the feast. Unfortunately, the famous trumpeter (with entourage and press) don’t turn up so as the evening gets on, the food is served to those in attendance after which it comes out that Pascal never invited the famous musician and that knowing  the cost of the evening  would bankrupt them, he had set the brothers up to get rid of the competition.

 

As might be expected with a film set in and around a restaurant, food features throughout the film. Everyone seems to remember the Timpano dish. However, this is quite a complicated and time consuming recipe so we are going to buck the trend and feature risotto instead. More precisely a pesto Risotto recipe. This was also served at the feast on the big night along with a white cheese risotto and a seafood risotto, making up the colours of the Italian flag.

 

Happy Cooking!

 

 

Pesto Risotto        Veg  HT MC 40mins

 

Serves 4     Hot Vegetarian    Rice   Grain    Main course  Gluten Wheat free   Italy   Europe
 
Ingredients
50g/2oz Butter
1 Onion, chopped
325g/12oz Risotto Rice

150ml/5fl.oz. White Wine
900ml/30 fl.oz. Fresh hot Stock (approx)

3 tbsp Pesto
Salt and Pepper

2 tbsp Mascarpone Cheese
4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

Freshly Shredded Basil Leaves to garnish
 
Instructions
 

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1. Melt two-thirds of the butter in a wide shallow saucepan. Fry the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until it is golden, but not brown. Add the rice and stir over the heat for a further 2- 3 minutes.
 
2. Pour in the wine and cook over a high heat, stirring,  until it has been absorbed.
 
3. Add one-third of the hot stock. Cook until the stock has been absorbed, stirring constantly.
 
4. Add another one-third of the stock  and cook until the stock has been absorbed, stirring constantly.
 
5. Add the last one-third of the stock  and continue to cook until the stock has been absorbed, stirring constantly. All in all it will take about 20 minutes from the time you start adding the stock. The end product should be quite wet and creamy.
 
6. Add the pesto and stir to mix well.

 

7. Remove from the heat, add the mascarpone, parmesan,  salt and pepper, mix well then cover and leave for 2-3 minutes.

 

8. To serve - transfer to a warmed serving dish and sprinkle with the shredded basil leaves .

 

 

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