The beauty of Italian cooking comes from its simplicity and reverence for the best quality ingredients. From the salt to the pasta, the oil, and especially the cheese and wine- a few well-chosen store cupboard essentials can to make your everyday meals sing mama mia.
This short guide will help you choose and understand some simple, practical, enhancements that can really make the difference to your culinary adventures. The key is so often ingredients, let them do the work for you, showcase their brilliance rather than over working them. Deploying a very small list of ingredients, and trying and pay attention to every aspect can really make the difference when it comes to getting those authentic touches into you your home cooking. Rethink your ratios use cheaper cuts of meat well, and then add those extra special finishing touches!
Traditional Italian peasant style cooking relies upon slow cooking, invention and using what you have. The typical Italian household could not rely upon a consistent supply of protein, and this compelled innovation in the field of food preservation. Necessity is the mother of invention, and has yielded deeply pleasurable results.
The ultimate value added product. Often disguising the less palatable parts of the animal, with a lengthy shelf life, and punching above its weight in terms of flavour. Well placed Italian charcuterie makes that every day dish become extra special. Start to explore this wonderful world and you will not look backwards.
Salami, cacciatore prosciutto, prosciutto cotto, finocchiona, capocollo, soppressata, culatello, mortadella
Growing up in the UK, my first experience of Italian cheese was Parmesan. It was dried, pre-grated, processed and bore little resemblance to the quality imports we can thankfully enjoy today. A highlight of my gastronomic journey has been exploring and understanding the many types of different options Italian dairy products provide us. Next time maybe try a Pecorino, Asiato or Grana Pandano instead of parmesan.
It would require a lot more time and space than I have here to fully explore regionalism and Italian cheese production, but suffice to say that the varieties and dissimilarity between them is an excellent medium to further explore Italian culture.
Ever had a quatro formaggio pizza? Most have, but many could not tell you what those four cheeses are?
Olive oil, Balsamic & wine vinegars
Olive oil and vinegar really matters! Like wine, it has many varieties, and qualities and prices ranges. There is fierce competition among top chefs to get the premier quality bottles. It is most desirable to try and get cold pressed olive oil, from the first pressing-although it is debateable as to whether the honesty of labelling is thoroughly checked these days. Balsamic should come from Modena, and as a rule of thumb, the older the better. This birthday spend what you would spend on champagne on oil and vinegar and your cooking will notice the difference.
Capers, sardines, anchovies, Truffle & Exotic fungi
Just tossed In salads and rice dishes, or cooked down with meats and sauces, these store cupboard heavyweights have a long shelf life and pack a real punch of flavour
Biscotti, Preserved Lemons, Liqueurs,
The Italians have so many amazing deserts, the above could be a foundation of a dessert like zabaglione or tiramasu in there own right-or a great addition to coffee after dinner, or be are the extra finishing touches crumbled over a supermarket cheesecake!