Understanding Italian Cooking

By Chef Angelo Antonucci

One of the most difficult parts of Italian cooking is getting the pasta and its accompaniment ready at the same time. The trick is precooking the pasta ahead of time so it can be ready in a minute.

Cook your pasta until it’s al dente, which means it still has a “bite.” Quick cool by rinsing in ice cold water till completely cool and drain. At this point you can store it refrigerated for several days. When you are ready to serve, have a large pot of water at a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook to your desired tenderness, which should be just a minute or two.

In Italian cooking it’s all about the “Sauce” or “Gravy” depending on where you’re from. We’ll start with tomato sauce. We use a canned crushed tomato product rather than a sauce or paste. This gives a fresh garden taste. We start with yellow onions sautéed in olive oil with fresh chopped garlic, pesto and minced red bell peppers in a large stock pot on low to medium heat. When onions are translucent, add your crushed tomatoes and salt to taste and simmer on low to medium heat for an hour or more till sauce is thickened to your liking. If you prefer a smoother rather than chunky sauce, wait till it cools and process in a food processor.

If you like a meat sauce, I suggest boiling your ground beef rather than sautéing as you will remove all of the grease. Drain in a colander and add to your sauce.

Depending on your tastes, some chef’s add oregano or other spices. For a sweeter sauce add some sugar. Some even add baking soda to supposedly “cut the acidity” of the tomatoes. If you’re not watching your waist line, some even cook their meatballs, sausage, or pork in the sauce and cook it for a lot longer. This will give a super rich tasting sauce but will have fat floating on top, which some don’t mind. It’s all about experimentation and finding what you like the best.

For cream sauces, start with 1/4 lb. salted butter, 1 quart heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. sugar, and bring to a simmer in a sauce pan. This is the base for Alfredo and other cream sauces. To finish the Alfredo, add granulated garlic and simmer till thickened. Then add Romano cheese, fresh parsley and black pepper. Stir in hot pasta and serve immediately.

“Buon Appetito!”

About this writer

  • Chef Angelo Antonucci

    Chef Angelo Antonucci

    If you’d rather have Angelo cook your pasta, visit Angelo’s Steak & Pasta for some of the most delicious food in our area. Angelo’s is located at 2311 S. Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. Call 843-626-2800 or visit www.angelosteakandpasta.com.

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