Thursday, June 5, 2008

Martha's Getting All The Good Chefs

I caught a repeat of Martha today. I never watch her, but she had a truly star studded line-up of Italian chefs.

Each chef was wonderful. All the recipes AND videos are on her website. Here are few notes from the show:

Mario made Spaghetti with Green Olive Sauce. He added pasta water at different stages, which he used to cool down the pan a bit and also to build up the sauce to coat the pasta. He tells us NOT to add cheese to this dish, because he wants us to experience the flavor and texture of the two wheat products (the spaghetti and the toasted bread crumbs).

Mario really is masterful. It's as if he was born with pots and pans instead of arms, he moves with such fluidity at the stove. You can get the video here.

Lidia Bastianich makes Sicilian Fettuccine with Fresh Swordfish. She adds a drop of the boiling pasta water to get the onions to "break down", after they've started to caramelize. She reminds us to use a wide pan to sauté the fish, so it doesn't steam. She adds a bit of fruity olive oil at the end, so it keeps more flavor.

Lidia also tells us why she doesn't add oil to the pasta water. (My reason is thaat it just gives you a greasy pot.) But listen to this! The oil inhibits the absorbency of the sauce onto the pasta. That really makes sense. The sauce would just slide off slippery pasta instead of absorbing it. INTERESTING.

Watching Lidia is just like having an Italian mama in the kitchen. Not all of us are lucky enough to have that, but some are.

Ron Suhanosky, from the New York restaurant Sfoglia, made a classic Spaghetti Carbonara. No cream - just pasta, egg yolks, an Italian bacon called guanciale and cheese. Ron made the same point as the other two did that the pasta water is important for marrying the sauce to the pasta.

His rule of thumb - use 1 egg yolk per person, and if the yolk is in danger of scrambling, add some more pasta water. I want that NOW.

Sal Scognamillo of Patsy's Italian Restaurant made Rigatoni Sorrentino. Very easy, basic dish. Cooked rigatoni gets added to ricotta and tomato sauce and baked with LOTS of cheese on top.

The best part was that the chefs didn't have any time-wasting interaction with Martha. She introduced them; they appeared on pretaped segments and they just got on with it and cooked one dish each. Very worthwhile viewing.


Anonymous said...

The spaghetti carbonara is quite similar to one Mario has in his 365 easy Italian dishes, or some such cookbook. I made it when we returned from Sicily, with fettucine, and bacon, since we can't get guanciale in Alaska. It was SO EFFING GOOD! And easy, and good! Even though I dumped my cheese on all at once rather than sprinkle it around, and got cheese lumps.

Sue said...

Hi Amy,
That does sound good. So does the Pasta with Green Olives that Mario made on the show.

A lot of times, I think of Italian food as kind of boring (don't hate me), but when it's good, it's GOOD!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Years ago I watched one of Lidia's shows and heard her say that about oil in the pasta water. I thought it was sound advice and took it to heart. I never added oil to pasta water, but Lidia gave me reason to tell others not to do it.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I love Lidia! My mom and I used to watch her all the time together! I am lucky being surrounded my Italian Mammas! :)

Sue said...

Hey Shortie,
Lidia is the greatest.

Hi Jenn,
Yes, you are!