The Italian Job

Heading east we cross the border into Italy.

 

Many centuries ago (about 1295), it is said that Marco Polo travelled from the opposite direction, returning from Asia and was about to launch noodles a al pasta onto the Romans inflicting a legacy that would change the shape of Italian cuisine forever. Well, sorry to be a party pooper but its all falsehoods.

 

There are ancient manuscripts detailing the existence of pasta before Polo returned to Venice. In fact, Sicilian woodcutters leveled forests (where were the Greens when you need them?) during Ancient Roman times and replaced them with wheat crops. The Romans of Sicily made pasta from the excess wheat.

 

Which brings us to Spaghetti alla Carbonara …

 

… a slight tweaking and it becomes Pappardelle alla Carbonara (Pappardelle with Egg-Pancetta Sauce).

 

Why Pappardelle? It’s always fun hand-ripping large sheets of fresh egg pasta.

 

A  fresh pasta recipe is fairly straight forward. 100 grams of strong flour, one large egg, salt and a little olive oil. Just increase the recipe per the number of clientele, approximately 125 grams of pasta per person. You can make the pasta by hand or use a food processor.

 

I presented two versions of Carbonara to the family … the Classic Italian and the not so classic Aussie version.

 

I sourced the recipe for the Classic Italian version from Giuliano Bugialli’s book, The Fine Art of Italian Cooking. Black and white photographs with authentic Italian recipes. You will not see any bacon or cream in Signor Bugialli’s recipe.

 

Grab some pancetta, garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook in a saucepan with some olive oil on a low heat for 12 – 15 minutes. This is to render the fat from the pancetta. Meanwhile beat 2 eggs with 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano (or Parmesan) cheese. Have a large quantity of boiling salted water ready for cooking the pasta. 1/2 kilogram of pasta is good. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and place in a serving bowl. Quickly spoon the pancetta mix over the pasta and add the egg and Parmesan mix. Toss and serve immediately. It’s delicious.

 

Carbonara no 2, the Aussie version, was the bacon, cream and onion arrangement –it didn’t deserve fresh pasta so I got the supermarket version.

 

No matter how much I tried to dumb it down, the Aussie style Carbonara proved more popular with the young-uns. Sorry Signor Bugialli.

Which brings us to Spaghetti alla Carbonara …A slight tweaking and it becomes Pappardelle alla Carbonara ( Pappardelle with Egg-Pancetta Sauce )  Why Pappardelle …it’s always fun hand-ripping large sheets of fresh egg pasta .A  fresh pasta recipe is fairly straight forward . 100 gms of strong flour , one large egg , salt and a little olive oil and just increase the recipe per the number of clientele , approx. 125 gms pasta per person .You can do it by hand or use a food processor . I presented  two versions of Carbonara to the family … the Classic Italian and the not so classic Aussie .

I sourced the recipe for the Classic Italian version from Giuliano Bugialli’s book ‘The Fine Art of Italian Cooking ‘. Black and white photographs with authentic Italian recipes . In fact you will not see any bacon or cream in Signor Bugialli’s recipe .

Grab some pancetta , garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook in a saucepan with some olive oil on a low heat for 12 – 15 minutes . This is to render the fat from the pancetta . Meanwhile beat 2 eggs with 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano cheese . Have a large quantity of boiling salted water ready for cooking the pasta . 1/2 kilogram of pasta is good .Once the pasta is al dente  , drain and place in a serving bowl a serving bowl . Quickly spoon the pancetta mix over the pasta and add the egg /parmesan mix  , toss and serve immediately . It was delicious .

Carbonara no 2 was the bacon , cream and onion arrangement –it didn’t deserve fresh pasta so I got the supermarket version . No matter how much I tried to dumb it down , the Aussie style Carbonara proved more popular with the young-ins .

Sorry Signor Bugialli .

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France

So we have left Great Britain and chunnelled  our way to France , the next step on Isobel’s culinary journey . And who better , to introduce oneself to the fine art of French Cuisine than the great man himself  ” George Auguste Escoffier .I will never tire of paying tribute to this man , who apart from being a masterful chef and prolific author , was also a visionary who was determined on improving the working conditions of chefs .

So after checking if mushrooms would be okay for my anti-fungi daughter . ( they were given the green light ) we commenced preparation for “Poulet Saute Chasseur ” , Recipe 3198 from Escoffier’s ” The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery ” .

A whole , free range chicken deboned and portioned  ( keep the carcase for stock )  Heat a large frying pan and sauté the seasoned the seasoned portions in butter and olive oil . When chicken is golden brown arrange in a braising pan and cover . In the same pan as the chicken was coloured , quickly cook mushrooms and  shallots ,  add white wine , reduce and then add some brown chicken or beef stock .Reduce some more ,  then add to pan some chopped tarragon . Pour over chicken  and cook in a 170 c oven for 20 to 30 mins . Finish off with some coarsely chopped parsley .

This was accompanied with ” Pommes Lyonnaise ” . Lyon is a place  in France famous for the onion and Paul Bocuse -one of the founders of Nouvelle Cuisine . Bocuse received a Legion d’ Honneur and the onion didn’t . Saute some slices or par cooked potatoes ( Kestrels are okay ) in  olive oil and butter until golden brown . Place in oven tray , then repeat with half the amount of sliced brown onion . When golden brown add to the potatoes and cook in the oven for 15 – 20 mins …more coarsely chopped parsley to finish  . I did notice after the meal , which was heartily devoured by the way , Isobel had put her mushrooms to the side of the plate …a fungi too far I suppose .

Dessert ..Crème caramel of course . A lovely golden toffee poured into some ramekins .7  Eggs and 200 gms sugar whisked together , 1/2 lt  milk and 1/2 lt cream heated with a little bit of grated fresh ginger (  secret ingredient ) . Strained onto the liquid and then poured into the ramekins . Sit in a water bath and cook at 170 C for 35 mins and leave in fridge for at least 3 hours .

Next stop …Italy .

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