Making a Meal with Mario Batali

In his latest cookbook, Mario Batali lays out 327 Italian recipes.

hide captionIn his latest cookbook, Mario Batali lays out 327 Italian recipes.

Sign outside the Italian supply store Faicco's

hide captionAn old adage: nobody wants to see how sausage is made. But as far as Mario Batali is concerned, one of the best places to buy it is Faicco's in New York City.

Tina Tennessen, NPR
The chef at work at his New York restaurant Otto.

hide captionThe chef at work, only mildly distracted by a radio microphone, at his New York restaurant Otto.

Tina Tennessen, NPR

Chef Mario Batali is known for the creative Italian fare he serves at his popular New York restaurants, including Babbo. But his latest cookbook, Molto Italiano, gets back to the basics.

The book is filled with recipes Batali's gathered over the years from families he met while traveling around Italy. Molto Italiano emphasizes Italian home cooking, where Batalis says "the true celebration of Italian culture exists."

Recipes from the Book:

Warm Terrine of Sausage, Peppers, Polenta and Mozzarella

Makes 6 Servings

8 ounces sweet Italian sausage

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

12 cloves garlic

1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch wide strips

1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch wide strips

10 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups polenta

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 3-inch-by-1/4-inch-thick strips

1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Prick the sausage, put it in a small baking pan, and bake for 20 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool, then remove the casings and crumble the meat. Set aside.

3. In a 10-to-12-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until smoking. Add the garlic and peppers and saute until soft and light golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer the garlic cloves to a small plate and the peppers to another plate, and allow to cool.

4. Bring the water to a boil in a large heavy saucepan, and add the salt and sugar. Slowly add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Lower the heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta resembles hot cereal.

5. Working quickly, pour about a 3/4-inch-deep layer of polenta into a 12-inch-long by 4-inch-wide by 4-inch-deep terrine mold. Sprinkle half of the crumbled sausage over the polenta. Cover the sausage with about 1 1/2 cups of the warm polenta, using a spatula to spread it evenly to the edges of the mold. Layer the peppers over the polenta and scatter the garlic cloves over them. Pour another 1 1/2 cups polenta over the peppers, spreading it evenly to the edges. Lay the mozzarella strips, side by side and lengthwise down the mold, over the polenta, leaving a border all around. Pour another layer of warm polenta over the mozzarella, spreading it evenly to the edges. Lay the remaining sausage over the polenta. Cover the sausage with polenta, filling the terrine, and smooth the top. (There may be a little leftover polenta.)

6. Let cool, then cover and chill the terrine overnight.

7. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

8. To serve, invert the terrine onto a cutting board. Sllice into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Lay the slices on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until heated through.

9. Sprinkle the slices of terrine with the parmigiano and serve immediately. Garnish with a fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil salad.

Green Tomato Frittata

Makes 4 Servings

1 large green tomato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 large eggs

1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven 425 degrees F.

2. Sprinkle the tomato generously with salt and let drain in a strainer or colander for 10 minutes.

3. In a 12-inch nonstick ovenproof saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Rinse the tomatoes and pat dry in a kitchen towel. Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, pecorino, and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the tomato pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, pulling in the sides of the mixture with a wooden spatula to distribute the raw eggs around the pan.

5. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the frittata is just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Invert the frittata onto a serving platter and cut into 8 wedges. Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature.

Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches

These are the ultimate elegant snack that makes grilled cheese sammies into performance art. The whole game here is the choice of mozzarella, so do not make these unless you can find, if not real mozzarella from Campania, a comparable high-quality mozzarella di bufalo. Or, totally change the recipe and use another great cheese, like Taleggio or even a fine American cheddar.

Makes 4 Servings

1 pound fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into 4 equal pieces about 3 inches by 4 inches.

Eight 1/2-inch-thick slices firm white sandwich bread

2 large eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon salt

A grating of nutmeg

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Place the mozzarella on 4 slices of the bread. Cover with the 4 remaining slices to form sandwiches. Trim the crusts off to make perfect 4-inch squares.

2. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the cream, thyme leaves, salt, and nutmeg and whisk until well blended.

3. In a 10-to-12-inch nonstick saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook until the sizzling subsides. Dip 2 of the sandwiches into the egg mixture, turning to coat, place in the pan, and cook until golden brown on first side, about 2 minutes. Flip over and brown on the other side. Transfer the sandwiches to individual plates and repeat the process with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter, and 2 sandwiches. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Books Featured In This Story

Molto Italiano
Molto Italiano

327 Simple Italian Recipes For Cooking At Home

by Mario Batali and Beatriz Da Costa

Hardcover, 522 pages | purchase

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Purchase Featured Books

  • Molto Italiano
  • 327 Simple Italian Recipes For Cooking At Home
  • Mario Batali and Beatriz Da Costa

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