You can buy pretty much any produce that you desire year-round from the supermarket. However, the best, freshest and most cost-effective way to eat is to choose what’s in season. Instead of selecting imported or cold-stored fruit and vegetables, take your cues from the famers’ markets – if something isn’t available there, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

Some of Massimo’s top picks for winter produce include kale, leek, potato, pumpkin and radish. But to really bring dishes to life in winter, Massimo turns to two unlikely heroes – onion and mushroom.  

With onions being the base of most dishes, Massimo suggests turning tradition on its head. “I love making onions the hero in winter. They can be grilled on the BBQ and finished in the oven with thyme, butter and white wine. As for mushrooms, I love them simply pan-fried with shallots, garlic and a dash of sherry vinegar to be served on toast.”

For a chef’s go-to winter meal, you can’t go past Massimo’s slow cooked pork cheek and onions with gnocchi – a classic Italian dish where the onions are as important as the pork itself.

  • 100g delicate extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of lard (optional)
  • 500g pork cheeks
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3kg of white onions, sliced very thin
  • 120g whole milk
  • 1tbsp salt, plus more to taste
  • Grated pecorino cheese
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Paccheri pasta

Pork rind roll

  1. Stretch out the slab of pork rind
  2. Sprinkle the slab with the garlic, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper
  3. Roll up and tie with twine

Sauce

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and lard, and brown the meat
  2. Deglaze with the wine over high heat, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan
  3. Lower the heat to medium and add the tomato paste and bay leaves
  4. Cook for a few minutes to lightly toast the tomato paste
  5. Add the onions and the milk
  6. Add the pork rind roll
  7. Stir until everything is mixed together
  8. Cover the saucepan with foil and cook on low heat until the onions no longer release any liquid
  9. Lower to a simmer and cook for 4-5 hours, until the mixture becomes a thick sauce and the colour becomes amber
  10. Remove the meat and slice
  11. Add the pork rind back into the sauce
  12. Cook the paccheri
  13. Add paccheri into the sauce
  14. Garnish with a mix of grated parmesan and pecorino cheeses