As I mentioned in my last post, i’ve made many a Boscaiola sauce before. I worked as a kitchen hand for a year and a half making the pastas, and the one thing that I learnt from that job was how to make a good cream sauce. Before that, I thought that a creamy pasta meant pasta with a puddle of cream at the bottom, and it was never pleasant. But, following the few simple steps that my boss showed me changed my opinion of this type of sauce.
Here’s whats in it:
1 packet fettuccine
600ml thickened cream
2 cups bacon
2 cups mushrooms
2 Tbsp grated parmesan
Six crucial steps for a fool proof Boscaiola Sauce:
1. The first crucial step is to cut the bacon into small strips and fry it on a high heat until almost burnt. This releases all the fat and boost the flavour of the dish my a thousand (there will be no chewy, floppy bacon fat on my watch!)
2. Once the bacon starts to ‘pop’ and the fat ‘spits’, it is time to add the sliced mushrooms. The mushrooms need to sliced thin so that they can easy release their liquid and crisp up. The mushrooms needs to be cooked until it is crispy and golden, like the bacon.
3. Once both the bacon and mushrooms are crispy, add the cream and reduce heat to low. If you have an electric stove, leave the heat on high, but on a gas stove its important to reduce the cream to low so it doesn’t split.
4. To season, add a good amount of cracked pepper and 2 Tbsp parmesan when the cream is added
5. Allow the cream to bubble away (it is the small bubbles that you are looking for) until it has darkened and thickened.
6. Add the cooked pasta to the pan while it is on the heat, allowing a minute or so for the sauce to gel to the pasta.
When visiting florence, I had the most beautiful Gnocchi. It was in a crab sauce and was like nothing I had tried before. This is my take on Gnocchi, no crab, just a simple tomato sauce, but it is so good!
For the Gnocchi:
3 boiled potatoes, mashed
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
For the tomato sauce:
3 cloves garlic
4 tomatoes, pealed
For the gnocchi, mix all ingredients together until a dough forms. Roll out into a long strip and cut the strip into small cylinders. Boil in boiling salted water and when gnocchi floats to the top, they are ready.
For sauce, fry garlic and anchovies in olive oil. When garlic is fragrant, add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat. Then add the gnocchi to the sauce and serve with pangritata and pancetta.
This is my signature dish (signature because I make it over and over again at work!) It is the easiest dish to make, and if you follow the few simple instructions, your boscaiola sauce will be thick and creamy!
For the Pasta:
1 cup Flour
1 large egg
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 boiled potato, mashed
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan
salt and pepper
1 cup cream
1/2 cup bacon pieces
1/2 cup sliced mushroom
1 cup of fresh bread crumbs
For the pasta, mix all the ingredients until a smooth ball forms. Need the dough for ten minutes until soft.
Laminate the dough ten times in a pasta machine and then continue to roll the dough until you reach the smallest setting. Cut the dough into round pieces and cover with a tea towel.
Mix the pasta filling together and place small amounts in the centre of the circular pieces of dough. Fold the dough to form a semi-circle and seal the edges together with water. Fold again to form the Tortelloni shape.
For the Boscaiola sauce, on a high heat fry bacon pieces in a little oil until crispy. Add the mushroom and continue frying until the mushroom pieces are also crispy. Turn the stove to low and add cream, parmesan and pepper and let the sauce bubble away for approx. eight minutes. Do not stir! After the eight minutes the sauce should be dark and thick. Boil the pasta for one minute and then add to the sauce.
For the Pangritata, add ingredients into a hot pan and fry until all the bread crumbs are golden and toasted. Pour over pasta. Add some crispy pancetta pieces and serve.
Who would have thought that a place in Lane Cove would serve Buffalo Mozzarella made in Naples and flown to Australia within the week it was made!! Sometimes I am convinced that in order to experience true Italian food, I have to be in Italy – but apparently not! Via Napoli has to be one of the most authentic Italian places in sydney! As soon as that ball of cheese was sliced down the middle, buffalo milk rushed out and my eyes seemed to pull themselves away from the direction of the provincial wood fired ovens and straight onto the soft, velvety cheese. I felt the same rush of energy that I had felt in Italy, an energy that forced an enthusiasm for the dishes that were to come.
What could be better than a mix of all the day’s catch, lightly battered and crispy fried? The catch being from Venice of course! Waiting for our train to arrive, dad and I popped into the first restaurant we could find. Browsing over at other tables to see what they were eating, I saw the fisherman’s basket and I immediately knew that that was what I wanted! And let me tell you, quality-wise, flavour-wise; the dish delivered!
My first experience of Italy was everything I had imagined it to be! Vibrant people flooded the narrow alleyways, occasionally deviating into small delicatessens. It was almost as if Italian grocers only sold prosciutto and parmesan cheese. But It was to my excitement that I experienced the most sublime array of delicatessens the world has to offer – Bologna, being home to some of the best! Enormous cured pig legs rimmed the ceiling of the store, followed by a lower rim of dried Italian sausage. The counters were packed with piles of age old parmesan quarters and below the sectioned off cooler was home to some of the most delicate nona-style tortellini, tortolloni and Ravioli. It was as if every Delicatessen in every alley way was having a full-blown pork-fest. Heaven!