Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking: A Cookbook Review

By: The Food Hunter

When it comes to how I learned to cook; I would say that Lidia Bastianich is right up there with my mother and grandmother in teaching me. Through the years I've honed my skills in the kitchen by watching her on PBS and reading through her many cookbooks. Often filled with educational tips and tidbits about her life; Lidia's cookbooks are always a good read. Her latest is no exception.

In Commonsense Italian Cooking, Lidia shares wisdom she's accumulated over many years and provides cooks with timeless advice.  The book includes over 100 simple, seasonal, Italian recipes that are perfect for cooks of any level. Simple to execute and full on flavor each recipe is a glimpse into her life both in and out of the kitchen. The cookbook is broken into your standard categories and includes lots of colorful photos; which I love.

Being a pasta fan I decided to try her recipe for Pappardelle with Turkey Rolls.  The combination of chicken (in this case turkey) and pasta sauce is something I grew up on.  This recipe quickly brought me back to my youth and was every bit as good as my grandmother's.

Pappardelle with Turkey Rolls
 (printable recipe)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pot
12 turkey breast cutlets (about 2 pounds total), pounded to an even 1/2 inch thickness
12 thin slices prosciutto
1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
All-purpose flour, for dredging
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 cup white wine
One 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
Pinch crushed red-pepper flakes
1 pound fresh or dry pappardelle

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. Lay the turkey cutlets out on a cutting board, and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Fit a slice of prosciutto on each cutlet, folding it in if the prosciutto slice is larger than the turkey cutlet. Sprinkle each cutlet with 1/2 tablespoon of grated cheese and 1 teaspoon of chopped parsley. Roll the cutlets up, starting on the short side, and secure closed with toothpicks.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-heat. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Dredge the rolls in flour, and tap off the excess. When the oil is hot, add the rolls, and brown lightly on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes in all. Remove to a plate.

Add the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat, add the wine, and boil until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, slosh out the can with 1 cup of water, and add that as well. Adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering, and season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the crushed red pepper. Slide the turkey rolls back into the sauce, and simmer until the rolls are tender and the sauce is flavorful, about 25 minutes.

When the rolls are almost done, start cooking the pasta. Remove the rolls to a plate, but keep them warm. When the pasta is al dente, transfer it with tongs directly to the simmering sauce, and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Serve the pasta on a platter, surrounded by the turkey rolls, taking care to remove the toothpicks before serving.

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