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Oct 1, 2008 06:51 AM

October 2008 COTM Batali: Primi

October 2008 Cookbooks of the Month:

Mario Batali’s Babbo, Molto Italiano, and Simple Italian Cooking.

Please post your full-length reviews of primi recipes here, including pasta, risotto and soup recipes. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the book and page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Risotto with Barolo (Molto Italiano, p. 145)

    What's not to like? Risotto made with a little Barolo we had leftover after a dinner party a few weeks ago. It was my first time making risotto with red wine, and we both liked it. Classic recipe - risotto rice (I used Vialone Nano), olive oil, onion, and wine, finished with butter and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Rubee

      Fregula Soup w/Clams - Molto Italiano, p. 138

      Although we liked this soup a lot, we weren't wowed by it, yet it definitely grew on us. Actually, I liked it a lot better for lunch the next day. We used regular fregula, because that is what I had (I don't think I've ever seen Saffrron Fregula.) That would probably have made a big difference.

      1. re: mirage

        I've not compared his recipe to the one in my Sardinian cookbook, but I loved that version and typed up the recipe here for JoanN:

        And, I've never heard of saffron fregula either.

    2. Linguine with Monkfish, Thyme and Zucchini (MI p. 179)

      Made this exactly as written and we loved it. Once you've made the basic tomato sauce, this is very easy and quick to put together.

      On the basic tomato sauce I just want to say one thing - the recipe says it makes 4 cups. It makes more , so just be prepared for that with whatever you're planning to keep it in. Also, I didn't chop up my thyme for that ... just stuck the whole thing in there and let nature take its course. By the time the 30 minutes of simmering was over, most of the thyme had fallen off and into the sauce.

      4 Replies
      1. re: LulusMom

        For the tomato sauce, did you use whole canned tomatoes? Did they melt down into a sauce consistency? I used diced and after 30 minutes, it was still pretty chunky and I had to whip out the immersion blender. Then again, I do love any excuse to use the immersion blender.

        Yes, I threw the whole thyme branches in too, much easier that way.

        1. re: yamalam

          I used canned whole tomatoes, but did break them up with a wooden spoon.

          Just adding that this is the Basic Tomato Sauce in all three books (Molto Italiano p. 71, Babbo p. 220, Simple Italian Food, p. 84). Ingredients are extra virgin olive oil, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, shredded carrot, and canned tomatoes. I made it a few weeks ago for the caponata recipe and froze the rest.

          Recipe link:

          1. re: Rubee

            I never put thyme in red sauce before this book, and I really like it. I don't usually take them off the stem -- if the stems are woody, you can pull them out after it's cooked and the leaves have fallen off.
            I now have one and two cup bags of this in my freezer - super adaptable and handy.

          2. re: yamalam

            I did the same as Rubee - used whole tomatoes and just broke them up each time I walked by the simmering pot. But I love my immersion blender too!

        2. Spaghetti with Garlic, Onion and Guanciale (Molto Italiano, p. 186)

          I made half the recipe for dinner the other night, and had the leftovers for lunch yesterday. Overall delicious - sort of a carbonara without the egg. A couple of changes that I'd make - it calls for 1 tsp for the 1 lb of pasta, and I thought it was way too much heat - I don't mind heat, but here I thought it overwhelmed the dish. Next time I'd start w/ 1/2 tsp, and adjust accordingly. Hmm ... now I'm wondering if I accidentally added 1 tsp though I only made half the recipe. I thought there was a little too much oil, so I might drain a little of it off before tossing with the pasta. Lastly, I used parmesan, not pecorino, because I didn't have the latter, but I do think the sharpness of pecorino would be better with this dish, and a nice contrast to the guanciale.

          8 Replies
          1. re: MMRuth

            CARBONARA p.184
            for the rest of your guanciale...this is of course delicious in that simple creamy porky carbonara way. Guanciale is really an over-the-top kind of ingredient. I love to make this with very fresh farmer's market eggs -- carbonara or ceasar salad around here on weekends.

            I like his idea of separating the eggs and nesting the yolks in the pasta, but this could skeve some people. I lurve it. It reminds me of raw egg on rice and greens japanese style breakfast.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I made this a while back and love it too. I used thick pancetta instead of guanciale though.
              And whenver I make Carbonara, I ALWAYS use this method. I love the egg yolk, that is my favorite part!

              1. re: MMRuth

                At today's prices, pecorino is the new parmesan in my house. :+)

                MMR, I hate to admit it but I've never bought guanciale. Is it like pancetta?

                1. re: oakjoan

                  I guess it's the type of cure that makes it different - more salt, more fat, more herb
                  guanciale is intense...

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    Guanciale has a smokier flavor than pancetta, and has more fat.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I bought the Parma stuff and think it is too salty. A little goes a long way. It is hard to recalculate my seasoning when using it and not get dishes too salty. Wahhhhhhhhh Life is so hard!

                      1. re: Scargod

                        when I'm cooking with guanciale, I use no additional salt...

                  2. re: MMRuth

                    Spaghetti with Garlic, Onions and Guanciale – p. 186

                    Delicious! We arrived home from a day of running errands and were absolutely starving so I needed something quick and easy. I happened to have this book in the kitchen and a quick flip through the pasta section landed me here. I keep guanciale in my freezer because it’s easier to slice or chop when partially frozen so luckily, I had all the ingredients to pull this dish together.

                    I agree w MMRuth’s comment that the EVOO should be reduced. Once my guanciale had rendered, I drained some of the oil/fat from the pan, as there just seemed to be far too much liquid for the amount of pasta. I do find that the heat level varies greatly with red pepper flakes and in our case, the suggested quantity was perfect. mr bc isn’t a big fan of “hot” pasta dishes and he found this dish nicely balanced. The heat was in the background but definitely not overwhelming. Essentially this came together in the time it took to cook the spaghetti. I happened to have some fresh basil on hand so I tossed that in along w the chopped parsley. Peppercorn Pecorino was grated atop and it’s earthy flavours worked beautifully with the dish. I’d definitely make this again.

                  3. PICI with LAMB SAUCE p.220 MItaliano (and must be online, since I saw it on MM)

                    LOVE this sauce - chunks of lamb with a big bunch of fresh basil, carrots, pancetta/bacon, white wine
                    make the noodles or not (you roll them like a snake when you're making a coil pot in kindergarten), or use a dry artisinal pasta with a rough texture and little bit of thick toothiness

                    the sauce is perfect for end of summer basil bounty

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: pitu

                      Pitu, did you make the pasta? And if so, was it fairly straightforward?

                      1. re: NYCkaren

                        I've made the pasta before and it was easy enough. Not my favorite shape of pasta but they were good.

                        1. re: arizonagirl

                          agreed, it's pretty easy
                          but I don' usually bother

                      2. re: pitu

                        I made this on Saturday and boy was it good. I made a double batch, and cutting up the lamb shoulder chops into 1/2 inch chunks was a complete pain, but worth it, and I now have lots frozen. It also used up the last three cups of tomato sauce I had in the fridge. I served it with DeCecco orecchiette (sp?). He doesn't mention adding cheese, but I added some grated aged Pecorino Sardo.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          (high five for the lamb sugo!)

                          I don't know which book it's in (not Babbo or MI, the two I have) but Batali's LAMB WITH ARTICHOKE STEW is one you'd love, MM. It's on Food Network as a lamb and cardoon recipe, but on the show he did it with artichokes. Artichokes that are weirdly pared down - you chop the top of the leaves off, just above the choke, and pare off the outer leaves, peel the stem and quarter.


                      3. Cauliflower soup p. 130 M Italiano
                        a little cauliflower, a little chili flakes . . . I think the pasta is too "ribsticker"-y, so I now use half of what is called for. And I like it as well with veg broth instead of chicken. I haven't tried the suggested tomato juice variation, which sounds kinda good.

                        cavolfiore ("cavol - FI - O' - re") = cauliflower. Isn't that pretty?