Osso buco, basil pesto, focaccia and tiramisu, northern Italy we thank you for dishing up some seriously popular eats and treats. #TheChefsLine
24 Apr 2017 - 10:27 AM  UPDATED 10 Jan 2019 - 2:11 PM

Comprising of eight regions, northern Italy differs from its central and southern parts in cuisine offering. Generally speaking, traditional northern recipes use unsalted butter rather than olive oil, and frequently draw upon rosemary and sage. Expect hearty fare with meat and fish alongside an abundance of polenta, gnocchi and risotto dishes.

This week on #TheChefsLine, it's all about Italian cooking and the team from Osteria Oggi, headed by executive chef and co-owner Andrew Davies, bring the rich, northern vibes. To get you in the mood for enticing Italian food, and primed for 6pm The Chefs' Line sessions, we dive into five of the most sumptuous northern dishes.

1. Osso buco

Originating in Milan, this recipe is now a beloved winter dish worldwide. The name comes from ossbus, Milanese for ‘bone with a hole’ – a reference to the flavoursome marrow inside the bone. 

2. Pesto alla genovese

While it is readily available in jars from supermarkets, basil pesto is simple to master at home. There are generally only five ingredients - basil, of course, pine nuts and garlic, plus olive oil and Parmesan, so make some yourself and taste the difference.

There's definitely garlic in this version.

3. Cotechino with lentils

Like other Italian cured meats cotechino combines pork meat with spices. The deliciously defining element is using the skin (or rind) minced up with the mix. Similar to salami, it must be cooked prior to eating and here is it served with earthy, which cut through the meaty decadence. After tasting a good cotechino, with its crisy, crackling-like bits, will have you craving it forever after. 

4. Salt cod crostini 

Creamy, salty and wonderfully more-ish, these snacks, or cichèti, are often served at Venetian bars, known as bàcari.

5. Risotto alla Milanese

This traditional dish from Milan is served with vongole (clams) as they widely available across the Ligurian coast.

6. Tiramisu

A classic Italian masterpiece, tiramisu is a rich dessert of Italian meringue, mascarpone and biscuits soaked in coffee and a good dose of liqueur. While it's not likely there'll be any leftovers, tiramisu is even more delicious the day after making.

7. Garlic and anchovy dip (bagna cauda)

A fragrant mixture of olive oil, garlic and anchovies is blended with melted butter to create this Italian dip. Similar to fondue, it's excellent served with seasonal vegetables, crusty bread and a glass of medium-bodied red wine, such as barbera. 

8. Focaccia

Home to some of the best olive oil and bread in the world, this Ligurian focaccia is truly magical! Remember to use good-quality extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt, and to allow sufficient time for the dough to rise before baking.

9. Panettone

Originally called Pan de Ton or the "bread of luxury", panettone is a sweet, cake-like bread traditionally eaten during the Christmas and New Year holiday period in Italy. Aromatic with citrus and enriched with butter, it's always hard to stop at one piece!

10. Panna cotta and amaretto caramel

Amaretto is a sweet, almond-flavoured liqueur from Italy, originally made with a combination of sweet and bitter almonds. For a marriage made in heaven, pair amaretto with the popular vanilla custard that is panna cotta.


Honourable mentions go to these standout ingredients: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Parmesan, Parmesan, PARMESAN! As well as proscuitto and our favourite drizzle, balsamic vinegar.

Okay, we said five but there are so many goodies and really, who's counting?


Let #TheChefsLine Italian fun begin! This week it's all about Italian cuisine, tune in weeknights at 6pm on SBS and see home cooks and restaurant chefs battle it out. Check out the program page for episode guides, cuisine lowdowns, recipes and more.