Some good friends gave me some Carluccio’s black truffles as a gift; the least I could do was serve it back to them. I thought this recipe would be one that Carluccio himself would be pleased with as it has minimal ingredients and ready in under 10 minutes. Mof-mof indeed.
Spaghetti with truffles (serves 4):
250g spaghetti (fancy bronze-die cut stuff if you can get it)
30g parmesan, grated
1 black truffle
- Cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Like, proper toothy.
- As the spaghetti is nearly cooked, gently melt the butter. When the pasta is ready add it to the butter at the same time as the parmesan. Toss like crazy and add a real big punch of black pepper. Serve immediately, grating over black truffle to taste.
I’ve revived an old habit of mine: devouring biographies. My local library has seen a lot of me lately, as I’ve read stories from all walks of life, Ken Livingstone to Steve-o, Chris Evans to Keith Floyd.
One that’s stayed with me is Antonio Carluccio – A Recipe for Life. I picked it up as a fan of his food and TV programmes. I wasn’t prepared for the vast scope of his life, from growing up the station master’s son, to travelling Europe in all sorts of jobs, to being driven to several suicide attempts due to crippling depression. You would expect the avuncular TV host’s story to be whimsical and giddy, but it is weighed down by a man who seems profoundly lonely. Even his now-beloved Gennaro betrays him and further fuels his sadness.
It’s a sobering read, but well worth tracking down.
On a more upbeat note, Antonio was on Saturday Kitchen this weekend and served up this delightfully simple dish that speaks to his core food philosophy: mof-mof, or “minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour”. Only an Italian could come up with that credo!
It’s a delicious pasta dish, and if I could’ve laid my hands on parsley like the original recipe asks it would’ve been perfect. I embellished mine with truffle salt, a birthday present which just happened to be Carluccio’s branded too. It’s so quick to cook, and delicious.
Open raviolo with mushrooms (serves 2):
1 garlic clove, crushed
300g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon tomato puree
70ml white wine
4 fresh lasagne sheets
Freshly grated parmesan
- Get a frying pan on a medium-low heat and some salted water on to boil in a saucepan. Add a little oil to the saucepan to prevent the sheets from sticking.
- Melt the butter in the frying pan and add the garlic. Before it browns add the mushrooms and gently fry for 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and season with truffle salt and black pepper. Cook for another minute before adding the wine and bringing to the boil to reduce.
- Pop the lasagne in the water to cook – this should only take 1 – 2 minutes. Put them to one side when done.
- When the wine has reduced to a thick orangey sauce, assemble the dish by alternating pasta sheets with the mushroom mixture. Top with parmesan before serving.
I’ve two versions of a spaghetti bolognese; a workaday version or this, my I’ve-got-a-whole-day-to-spare version. It’s heartily lifted from Antonio Carluccio who claims it’s the way they do it in Bologna.
It’s simple to the point of absurd and a very short ingredient list. I start by browning mince; an equal combo of pork and beef. The pork lends wonderful fat to the dish, and the beef gutsy red meat. Once it’s browned I remove it and fry a chopped onion until translucent. Then the mince goes back in the pan and I add half a bottle of white wine and let it bubble away for a minute or two, then in with tomato puree and a jar of passata.
Ingredient-wise, that’s it. I’ll then raise it to a simmer and leave it on the lowest possible heat for as long as I can – perhaps 3, 4 or 5 hours. I need to taste it at some point – you can never tell how your tomatoes are, so I may add sugar – and season as required. The flavours will be intense, rich, tomatoey and the mince will have a loose, tender mouthfeel.
I then boil spaghetti til tender, then put some of the mince mix in a hot frying pan. The pasta is then added to this with a splash of cooking water. This helps the sauce cling to the spaghetti. Serve in massive piles with freshly-grated parmesan. Even better, pass round the microplane and the block of cheese and DIY.