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Stir it up magazine March 2015

LEADING LIGHT There are around 200,000 types of funghi – if you just learn five or six that you can identify, they are delightful. I know around 200 that I can pick safely; I learnt from my father in Piedmont. The best way to cook them is not to wash them, but to cook with butter, oil, garlic, chilli and fry a little, then sprinkle with a little parsley and salt. They must be sautéed, not cremated! All over France and Italy, people are picking funghi but here in Britain, few people feel confident because they fear being poisoned. It’s simply due to a lack of education. What is your favourite ingredient and why? Tomatoes. It’s because they are the basis of so many pasta sauces – and you can also eat them fresh with salads. This might surprise you but I mostly cook with tinned tomatoes. It’s because they are put in there when they are at their ripest, so the taste is better than buying fresh, unless it’s the right season. What are your three kitchen secrets? I have a rule – well, a philosophy called MOFMOF! It means Minimum of Fuss (makes) Maximum of Flavour. This underpins everything I do in the kitchen and that all Italian cooks should follow. Italian cooking is about simplicity. Beyond that, ingredients should be fresh – fish should be jumping out of the water – and secondly, don’t put impossible ingredients together. Thirdly, treat food reverently. What involvement do you still have with Carluccio’s Caffe, in your consultant role? I still write recipes and my work is mainly to see that the chefs cook correctly – so if I go to see how a chef is doing, I will always order Pasta e Fagiole. It’s a bean soup and if they don’t cook that properly, I would be worried. Although I don’t own the brand anymore, it’s still my name. There are over 100 branches now, some overseas – even in Istanbul now! What gave you the idea of the combination of delicatessen next to your first restaurant? I wanted to import incredible ingredients – for the business and to sell to people. It started because some rooms came free, but then I wanted to add it to the caffes. The caffes are lively, simple places to eat – it is unnecessary to create fine dining. There’s just no need to glorify the food – just give people satisfaction in what they are ordering. What usually prompts you to work on a new cookery book – and do you enjoy the writing as much as the creativity in the kitchen? Well I write mainly about regions or types of food, but I want to educate people. I want them to be books that people really use. I cook all of the dishes myself for the photographers and I write the books long hand by pencil – because I hate computers! I find great satisfaction in the crafting of the books. Sometimes people come to book signings with a collection of several of my books. What do you think about British cuisine? There is an incredible variety of ingredients, from Scotland to Cornwall, and I find it funny that the French and Italians would be doing wonders with all of this. But I think the chef Elizabeth David is somewhat responsible for making English food unfashionable because she went away and wrote about Mediterranean cuisine – it almost punished the native cuisine here. There are something like 80 types of ethnic cuisines here, too, yet Italian food has succeeded in securing its place more so than British food. What’s the secret to perfect pasta? There are 12 rules in my book, ‘Pasta’ – it’s for aficionados and beginners. The book reflects all 20 regions. Most importantly – make sure that the water is salted 10g per litre, and salt when the water is boiling. Stir after a few seconds, never wash it or drain it – just lift and strain, then put into the sauce to let it flavour. Antonio’s Paccheri con ragu alla Napoletana >> Serves 4 “Hardly a family Sunday Hardly a family Sunday passes in Campania without a Neapolitan ragù being cooked and eaten for lunch. Probably derived from the French ragoût, which is slightly different (more a stew than a sauce), the Neapolitans have made this majestic dish their own. It is not just a sauce for pasta, but an entire meal, and the Neapolitans are very fussy about the cut of beef chosen to make the braciola (a stuffed piece of beef similar to the beef olive). They use scamone, rump of beef. Ingredients 400g dried paccheri pasta 60g Parmesan, freshly grated salt and pepper, to taste For the braciole: 4 large thin slices of rump beef 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 1 tbsp raisins 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed 20g Parmesan, freshly grated 1 tbsp pine kernels For the sauce: 60ml olive oil 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced 50ml dry white wine 800g canned crushed tomatoes 2 tbsp tomato paste Method 1. For the braciole, lay the slices of beef flat on a board. In a bowl, mix the parsley, raisins, garlic, Parmesan, pine kernels and some salt and pepper. Divide into four portions and spread on to the beef slices. Roll these up and fix either with a wooden toothpick or bind with kitchen string. 2. Put the oil in a pan and fry the onion until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the beef braciole and fry to brown on each side. 3. Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Stir well and let the mixture cook slowly at first, covered with the lid until boiling, then reduce the heat to a minimum. Cook for 1½ hours, uncovered, until the braciole are very tender. Turn this occasionally, and stir the sauce. passes in Campania without a Neapolitan ragù being cooked and eaten for lunch” 4. Add salt and pepper to taste. 5. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain the pasta and mix with some of the sauce. Serve each portion of pasta with some of the sauce and some grated Parmesan, and then serve the braciole separately, either sliced or whole, as a second course. Sunday lunch is done! Alternatives: You could use rigatoni, vermicelli, fusilli or maccheroni instead of the paccheri. WIN a copy of Antonio’s latest book, ‘Antonio Carluccio’s Pasta’. See Country Club (page 14) for more details. MARCH 2015 31


Stir it up magazine March 2015
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