Rustic Italian Food

Rustic Italian Food


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580085892
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 11/01/2011
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 330,617
Product dimensions: 10.28(w) x 8.76(h) x 1.18(d)

About the Author

Trained in Bergamo, Italy, by some of the region’s most noted chefs, Marc Vetri is the chef/owner of Vetri Ristorante, Osteria, Amis, and Alla Spina, all located in Philadelphia. Vetri was named one of Food & Wine’s Ten Best New Chefs and received the Philadelphia Inquirer’s highest restaurant rating; he also won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. Vetri has been profiled in Gourmet, Bon Appétit, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Times. Visit his restaurants online at
David Joachim has authored, edited, or collaborated on more than thirty-five cookbooks, including the IACP award-winning The Food Substitutions Bible and the New York Times bestsellers A Man, a Can, a Grill and Mastering the Grill, co-authored with Andrew Schloss. He lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Visit David at

Read an Excerpt

I REALLY LIKE TO COOK. I don’t say that as a joke—I really, really enjoy cooking. Sniffing out the best ingredients, dreaming up a dish, and then handcrafting something delicious brings me immense satisfaction. That idea might seem odd in the technological age of modern cuisine. Why bother cooking by hand? Why judge doneness with your eyes when you can just put something in an oven, press a button, and take it out when the buzzer goes off? It will be cooked perfectly. You can vacuum-seal a veal medallion in plastic, label it, put the bag in a water bath at a prescribed temperature for a prescribed time, then take it out, cut it open, and serve it. Some people think that this kind of scientific advancement is a godsend. But not me. If I wanted to be a file clerk, I would work at an accounting firm. I don’t enjoy filing. I enjoy cooking. I like to touch and smell fresh herbs, to roll them between my fingertips and breathe in their tempting aromas. I like to feel the supple skin on a fresh pear and taste the tannic bite of young artichokes. I want to understand where my food comes from—the earth, the climate, and the place where it was grown. Touching, knowing, and understanding give me more respect for the ingredients I’m working with and help me honor those foods in the kitchen. The fewer things between me and the food, the better. Don’t get me wrong—knowing the science of food can certainly make you a better cook. But how you use that knowledge makes all the difference between modern cuisine and rustic preparations. Some chefs use their knowledge to manipulate our medium—food—to its furthest reaches, constructing or deconstructing elaborate dishes with multiple components. Other chefs use food knowledge to expertly pair two ingredients together in a simple preparation like a musician who can move you from your seat with two minimal notes. That musician may have a deep understanding of musical theory but chooses to display his or her knowledge with an uncomplicated melody. I love knowing how and why things happen in cooking, but I’ll take Miles Davis over Wynton Marsalis any day of the week.
This kind of simple, hands-on cooking is the core of Italian cuisine. In the kitchen, my greatest aspiration is to take as few ingredients as possible, cook them perfectly, and make them sing. I try to bring this kind of simplicity to all of my tables—at home and in my restaurants. It’s what I teach the cooks who come to work with me, and what I set out to share in this book.
I’m not alone in this straightforward approach. Thomas Keller, the prince of precise French cooking, recently told reporters that a chicken tastes best when simply roasted in the traditional manner: “Clean the chicken, season it inside and out, rub it with butter, truss it and roast it at 425 degrees,” says Keller. I couldn’t agree more. Even Alain Ducasse, one of the most decorated chefs in the world, recently simplified the menu at his flagship Plaza Athenée restaurant in Paris. “We’ve never been about bling-bling,” he told an international news agency, “but now we are definitively going to get back to essentials. Cuisine has become too complicated—this is about subject, verb, adjective: duck, turnips, sauce.”
For many young cooks, the simple basics no longer hold their interest. Some very talented chefs have come to work with me over the years, and I am still amazed at how many of them don’t know rudimentary food preparations like butchering animals and making stock. For me, it is an art to make a piece of cured salami with only three ingredients: pork, fat, and salt. Bread, one of the world’s most important foods and most beautiful art forms, can be crafted from only flour, water, salt, and yeast. Yet these fundamental procedures are foreign to many cooks. It’s not because making bread is hard. It’s because few people take the time to show others how simple it is to make.
Think of pickles, jams, and preserves. Cooks have been preserving seasonal fruits and vegetables for thousands of years. Simple tarts and sweets have been put on Italian family tables for more years than any of us has been alive. Thankfully, this kind of hands-on food is making a big comeback these days. Highly technological cuisine may be fascinating, but food made by hand is what people are really excited about. American restaurants proudly serve house-cured meats and house-made breads. Every year, thousands more people turn to home canning, home brewing, home butchering, and making things like homemade pickles and home-cured bacon to save money and enjoy the satisfaction of doing things themselves.
You could chalk up the handcrafted food movement to tough economic times, but I think our interest in rustic food goes deeper. Breads, preserves, pies, roasted meats . . . these are the foods that cooks—especially Italian cooks—have been inspired by for centuries. These are the approachable foods that people everywhere feel comfortable preparing and eating. This is the cooking that I teach in Rustic Italian Food.
Here is my basic approach:
1. Cook and eat food that is as close to the earth as possible. The fresher and more local, the better.
2. Start with whole foods. They taste better than processed foods.
3. Keep it simple. A few high-quality ingredients make a bigger impact than a dozen cheap ones.
To help flesh out this philosophy, I don’t just give you recipes here. I open each chapter with details about making satisfying Italian foods like homemade pasta, sausages, and vegetables. These introductions are like mini classes, explaining everything you need to know to get started. The recipes themselves also give you the ins and outs of rustic Italian food the way I cook it—with more than 120 of my favorite breads, pizzas, grilled meats, slow roasts, braises, pickles, preserves, and desserts. Some dishes, like Fusilli with Fava Beans and Pecorino (page 68), are perfect for off-the-cuff weeknight cooking. Others, like Chocolate Zabaione Tart (page 262), are more sophisticated and meant for special occasions. Still others, like Spit-Roasted Suckling Pig (page 192) and home-cured Soppressata Calabrese (page 149), require some serious time and attention but give you a huge payoff. Any time you cook a whole animal or serve home-cured salami, your guests will love you for it. Believe me. People appreciate the effort and care that goes into handmade food. This is the kind of rustic cooking that I am most excited to share with you.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Mario Batali, ix
Introduction: A Return to Real Cooking, 1
Bread and Pizza, 8
Flour, 11  
Measuring, 12  
Yeast, 12  
Water, 13  
Salt, 13  
Starter, 14  
Mixing and Kneading, 15  
Proofing and Shaping, 18  
Baking and Steaming, 19  
I Want It Burnt!, 26  
Think Outside the Wine Bottle, 41  
Part Skim Is Part Insane, 43
Biga Starter, 22
Rustic Loaf, 24
Ciabatta, 28
Parmesan Bread, 29
Durum Focaccia, 30
Rosemary Durum Bread, 31
Blueberry Schiacciata, 34
Chocolate Bread, 35 
Fig and Chestnut Bread, 36
Brioche, 37
Romana Pizza Dough, 39
Napoletana Pizza Dough, 40
Margherita Pizza, 42
Mortadella Pizza, 48
Pastas, 52
Flour, 54  
Extruded Pasta, 55 
Rolled Pasta, 57  
Hand-Rolled Pasta, 58  
Pasta Water, 59  
Which Oil?, 74  
Opposites Attract, 83  
Getting Floury with the Kids, 93  
Parmigiano, 107
Extruded Pasta 
Basic Extruded Pasta Dough, 62
Rigatoni with Swordfish, Tomato, and Eggplant Fries, 65
Rigatoni with Chicken Livers, Cipollini Onions, and Sage, 66
Candele with Duck Bolognes, 67
Fusilli with Fava Beans and Pecorino, 68
Macaroni with Bigeye Tuna Bolognese,  70
Bucatini alla Matriciana, 72
Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, 75
Spaghetti in Parchment with Clams and Scallions, 76
Rolled Pasta
Basic Egg Pasta Dough, 80
Fettuccine with Pork Ragù and Stone Fruits, 82
Goat Cheese and Beet Plin with Tarragon, 84
Robiola Francobolli with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Thyme, 88
Mortadella Tortelli with Pistachio Pesto, 89
Caramelle di Zucca Ravioli with Amaretti, 90
Salt Cod Ravioli with Marjoram, 92 
Escarole Ravioli with Pine Nuts and Honey, 94
Baked Pasta
Veal Cannelloni with Porcini Béchamel, 98
Fazzoletti with Swiss Chard and Sheep’s Milk Ricotta, 100 
Semolina Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragù, 102
Lasagna with Zucchini and Stracciatella, 104
Eggplant Lasagnette alla Parmigiana, 106
Hand-Rolled Pasta
Orecchiette with Veal Ragù and Bitter Greens, 110
Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi, 113
Garganelli with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, and Walnuts, 114
Salumi, 116
Types of Salumi, 118
Sanitation, 119
Freezing, 120
Seasoning, 120
Salt and Sugar, 121
Grinding, 123 
Mixing, 124
Stuffing, 124
Cooking, 127
Fermentation, 128
Curing, 130
Equipment and Doneness, 132
So Young and So Good, 150
To Each His Own, 161
Potted Trout Terrine, 135
Duck Terrine, 136
Pork Liver Terrine, 138
Cooked Sausage
Lamb Mortadella, 142
Rabbit Salami, 144
Swordfish Sausage, 146
Dry-Cured Salami 
Soppressata Calabrese, 149
Fennel Salami, 152
Chorizo, 154
Whole-Muscle Salumi
Beef Speck, 157
Coppa, 158
Pancetta, 159
Lardo, 160
Shortcut Guanciale, 162
Warm Pork Belly, 163
Pickles and Preserves, 164
Canning, 165
Homemade Spicy Pickles, 168
Pickled Eggs, 169
Pickled Mustard Seeds, 170
Preserved Cherry Tomatoes, 170
Shallot Marmalade, 171
Mostarda, 172
Quince Butter, 176
Hazelnut Honey, 177
Strawberry Pate di Frutta, 178
Honeycrisp Apple Jam, 181
Apricot Jam, 182
Meats and Fish, 184
Brining Meat, 186
Roasting and Grilling, 187
Fish Freshness, 189
Procuring a Spit and a Suckling Pig, 193
Trussing a Pig to a Spit, 193
Preparing a Chicken for Grilling, 199
Thanks for the Complement, 210
Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder, 190
Spit-Roasted Suckling Pig, 192
Shaved Pork with Summer Fruit, 195
Chicken Halves on the Grill, 198
Sal’s Old-School Meatballs, 200
Veal Breast “al Latte” with Fried Sage, 203
Grilled Beef Cheeks, 206
Turkey Cutlets Milanese Style, 208
Braised Monkfish, 209
Mixed Seafood Grill, 211
Halibut with Peas, 212
Fish Poached in Olive Oil, 213
Tuna Tagliata with Fennel and Orange, 214
Simple Vegetables and Sides, 216
Choosing Produce, 218
Preparing Fruits and Vegetables, 218
Seasoning, 219
Vegetarians Welcome, 225
Birds of a Feather, 234
Lima Bean Salad with Shaved Red Onion, 220
Apple and Endive Salad with Lemon and Thyme, 221
Celery Puntarelle Salad with Anchovy Dressing, 222
Cold Farro Salad with Crunchy Vegetables, 224
Corn Crema with Corn Sauté and Scallions, 226
Roasted Mushrooms in Foil, 227
Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, 228
Potato Torta, 229
Polenta Squares, 230
Tuna and White Bean Bruschetta, 231
Fennel Gratin, 232 
Escarole Gratin with Raisins and Parmesan, 234
Eggplant Fries and Zucchini Waffle Chips, 235
Snails alla Romana, 236
Eggplant Caponata, 237
Artichokes alla Guidia, 238
Tuna-Ricotta Fritters, 240
Montasio Cheese Frico, 241
Rustic Desserts, 242
Simplicity and Seasonality, 243
Chocolate, 244
Suit the Situation, 251
Traditional Tiramisù, 245
Baked Peaches with Almond Frangipane, 247
Olive Oil Cake, 248
Toasted Raisin Biscuit, 249
Apple Fritters Lombarda Style, 250
Buttermilk Panna Cotta, 252
Mom-Mom’s Rice Pudding, 253
Blueberry Custard Tarts, 254
Rhubarb Strudel, 256
Amaretti Semifreddo with Warm Chocolate Sauce, 258
Waffles with Nutella and Semifreddo, 259
Chocolate-Hazelnut Tartufo, 260
Chocolate Zabaione Tart, 262
Sauces and Other Basics, 264

Hand-Crushed Marinara Sauce, 266
Pizza Sauce, 267
Tomato Conserva, 268
Porcini Béchamel, 268
Pistachio Pesto, 269
Garlic Chive Oil, 269
Celery Root Puree, 270
Gremolata, 270
Saffron Puree, 271
Corn Crema, 272
Horseradish Crème Fraîche, 273
Lemon Vinaigrette, 273
Rosemary-Garlic Brine, 274
Candied Hazelnuts, 275
Chocolate Sauce, 276
Candied Citrus Peel, 278
Sources, 279
Acknowledgments, 282
Index, 284

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Rustic Italian Food 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Puts on a jet black suit and dark sunglasses (im blind)
DIANE-FROM-OHIO More than 1 year ago
if you are looking for the real deal, look no further. I actually got this from the library and loved it so much I ordered it so I would own a copy. You cannot go wrong with Marc Vetri. This will not disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago