6 July 2012

GUEST BLOG: Talking Italian

By guest blogger TRACEY

A perfect mix of pasta dishes were stirred up at the Approved Premises on Wednesday 4 July. A tangy yet spicy puttanesca sauce along with a deeply creamy and tasty mushroom, bacon and cheese carbonara sauce were both served with pasta al dente. The guys formed the now familiar peeling, chopping and slicing stations, and the concentration was near tangible, as they now have the skills and knowledge to do what’s needed when prepping.

The sauces were made simultaneously, so it was all hands to the pumps, cutting bacon into lardons, rinsing capers, chopping the olives and draining the anchovies; reserving the oil for frying the vegetables later. The reaction to the ingredients was quite positive as there had been some resistance to sampling the anchovies and olives in isolation, but a keenness to try them when served in the dish. Once the garlic, anchovies, chillies, tomatoes, capers and parsley were mixed, the puttanesca sauce came together with ease, and it looked rich and enticing, and tasted amazing.

After a break, the participants were divided into pairs to prep the cheese sauce, fry the onions and mushrooms, and cook the pasta. We intended to use the juice from the fried mushrooms as liquid for the roux sauce, but the mushrooms absorbed most of it - still, it didn’t hinder the taste of the cheese sauce as it was rich thick and creamy and looked wonderful once the caramelised onions and mushrooms were mixed in. Basil was used to garnish the dishes and the participants were keen to try the Parmesan in block form and seemed to appreciate the difference in taste when sprinkled onto the food.

One participant commented that the puttanesca sauce “carries the initial taste of fish, but then the chilli kicks in”, and he was very surprised that he liked the dish as he wasn’t overly enthusiastic to try the anchovies straight out of the tin! Well done, Rob – you converted many to the delights of capers, anchovies and olives, and led a great discussion ahead of next week's store-cupboard session where the guys have devised their own menu. You also very kindly shared the translation of puttanesca - interesting!

You can see more photographs from this session on the CGF Facebook page: click here.

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