I plan to do a fair bit of cooking with "The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" from Marcella Hazan (see http://www.amazon.com/Essentials-Clas...) and I thought it might be interesting for some people to hear about my feedback of different tests.
*How I came to it*
I had just finished to make chef john's "one pot chicken and sausage orzo" (see http://foodwishes.blogspot.ca/2016/01...) and I had two hot italian sausage left over.
I didn't want to throw them away so I opened them, took their meat, cooked them with two caramelized onions and garlic, combined them with ricotta and a bit of parmesan and made ravioli with it. It was my first time making pasta (I had a pasta machine waiting to be used) and I used Micheal Ruhlman's proportions from his book Ratio (see http://www.amazon.com/Ratio-Simple-Be...). I cooked them and threw them in a pan with a brown butter and parmesan.
I really loved the result. Its was the best stuffing yet but I thought the ravioli dough was a bit too thick and chewy so I bought "00 flour" (its not that expensive, its just not that easy to find) and changed the proportions to 150grams of 00 flour, 50 grams of durum semolina and two eggs (Gennaro Contaldo's pasta dough, see here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESz55...). I also rolled the pasta thinner. It gave a better result.
Enthused by my success, I tried Gennaro Contaldo's ragu (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChzUN...). I didn't like it. I found the use of meat cubes a bit strange (even if I cooked them down to "pulled pork" consistency) and preferred ground meat in my sauce. My best pasta sauce is still Chef John's bolognese via Hazan (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMj8l...).
Thinking about that sauce, I bought Marcella Hazan's cookbook. I immediately fell in love with the vibe of the book and the way she presented her recipes.
*How I plan to go at it*
I'm a single guy so a night of cooking can go a long way. I partition what I do in individual portions and freeze them when I can but I can get a few days worth of meals out of a single recipe. I won't be able to go through Marcella Hazan's recipe as fast as if I had a familly of six. I could invite people but I don't want to limit my exploration of this book to special occasion.
Fortunately, I don't mind repetition and don't get bored easily (especially if the result is good).
I plan to pick my way at her books and do recipes as they come to me. Further on I might establish a ranking or a system to limit repetition but for now I'm just picking for the low hanging fruit.
Her typical recipes make food for 6 servings so I'll cut and adjust when I can but I'm not worried of making too much food.
*What I did up to this point*
I literally just started cooking with her cookbook. Made her "Tomato sauce with onion and butter" yesterday (what I call her "simple stupid red sauce") and I found it interesting but lacking a bit of dept. I guess I would prefer a sauce with a stronger soffritto base if I go with a meatless tomato sauce. I adapted the recipe a bit to fit the canned tomato format found at my supermarket (her recipe calls for 2 cups of tomatoes (473ml) and the can I had on hand had a hair more than three cups of tomatoes (796ml) so the proportions became:
1 can of san marzano tomatoes
100 grams of butter
2 small yellow onions
It yielded roughly 2 cups of sauce. I used 1 cup with 100 grams of dry pasta with parmesan and froze the other cup for later use.
I plan to do her "meat broth" next, freeze a bunch of it and use it as a base to try some of her risottos.
Her recipe for meat broth is the following:
1 stalk of celery
1 bell pepper
1 small potato
1 fresh ripe tomato
1 pound veal bones
1 pound beef bones
1.5 pound veal meat
1.5 pound beef meat
I asked my butcher for recommendations for cheap cuts to use for broth. He gave me one really nice beef shank (about 750 grams for 11$) and two pieces of veal flanks for 8$ (about 550 grams for both). Overall bones and meat set me back 20$, which I believe is great value.
Not only I'll have a lot of broth out of this but the process is going to render a lot of meat. I plan to eat some right away and cube and stew the rest in a variation of sauces (each one could be a meal): Salsa Rossa, Salsa Verde and Salsina di Barbaforte. I'll cube the meats and mix beef with veal with the sauces (she has variants to use the boiled meats as leftovers). I'll serve it over rice. I think roughly 200 grams of meat per meal should be ok.
Anyways! I'll keep updating with new posts as I go through the recipes and hopefully it might be interesting for some of you!