'Molto Batali' on Serious Eats
If you've spent time cooking from many of Mario Batali's recipe, you'll know the man is not afraid of bitter. His grasp on how bitter flavors come into play is typical of Italian cuisine, where bitter is celebrated instead of disguised. This Leg of Lamb in a Clementine Crust from Molto Batali employs whole clementines—bitter pith, skin, seeds, and all—into a coating that's bitter, sweet, herbal, and pretty much made for winter lamb enjoyment.
The key of these little potatoes is the bold, green dressing that goes on and soaks in while the potatoes are still warm. Tart white wine vinegar melds with basil, parsley, capers, and scallions, giving the potatoes a sharp, oniony bite tempered with just enough salt from the briny capers and shavings of pecorino that melt and cling to the potatoes.
This Pennette with Sicilian Pesto from Mario Batali's latest, Molto Batali takes that Ligurian classic on a trip to the south of Italy by adding brightness and heat from unique-to-Sicily ingredients. Chiles (raw and dried), mint, almonds and fennel seeds are added to the basic basil-garlic-olive oil mix
This Farfalle Abruzzese with Veal, Porcini, and Spinach from Mario Batali's latest, Molto Batali is genius in that it gives you a deeply concentrated meaty ragu in barely any time at all. The secret here is the umami factor in the dried porcinis, chopped up fine and added with their liquid to a ground veal, rust-colored tomato paste and tomato sauce. The mushrooms add a depth that make it seem as though this sauce has been lazily bubbling away on the stove for hours instead of minutes.
There's really no sense in being shy about it, we're suckers for pretty much every one of Mario Batali's cookbooks. Our favorite red-headed Crocs-wearing chef's books are always gorgeous, but really it comes down to the fact that they work. And when we say work, we mean they produce consistently wonderful Italian fare that's rustic yet refined, bold, elegant, and satisfying in a deep and happy way. That same happiness carries over in Molto Batali. His latest is all about entertaining, organized into monthly menus designed to feed a crowd. Enter to win a copy here.