Monday, November 5, 2007

Book Review 2, Mario Batali

In case anyone has not heard of Mario Batali, he has been on the Food Network Channel for about the past 10 years with the shows, Molto Mario, Mediterranean Mario, Mario Eats Italy and Ciao America with Mario Batali. He is also one of the Iron Chefs on the Food Network's Iron Chef America. You can't miss him with his red hair and those distinctive orange gym shoes or orange clogs he wears. Seems always to have shorts on also. He is quite the character. You can check out Mario on his blog here. One of his big successes has been the restaurant Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca in New York City. I have Mario's book Molto Italiano which includes recipes from his shows on TV. I enjoy Mario's distinctive, often humorous way he provides us with a historical and cultural perspective on his Italian dishes. In his book he also shows ways to shorten or simplify everything from purchasing great ingredients to tips on how to prepare things ahead of time. I like the sidebars where he provides the background for the recipe, including the places, people and history behind the dish, so it is not just a book filled with recipes! The book starts out with a small chapter on Italian wine then follows with antipasto; soup, rice and polento; pasta; fish; fowl; meat; vegetables and dolci! It also has an informative chapter on essential equipment and sources for some of the goodies that he includes in his recipes. Along with that are beautiful photos of some of his dishes. I enjoy photos in books as it gives me a guide as to what the dish should look like when "I" get finished with it! (Unfortunately, sometimes my food does not look like the photo! )

Since the "fall season" is upon us, and we have finally gotten down into the cool low 70 degree mark at night with low humidity, I decided to do a meat dish with a hearty sauce to go along. I must apologize that this recipe again is a tomato based dish, but I adore tomatoes! So I promise in my next cookbook review I will make something without tomatoes! Anyhow, please find below Mario's "Braciole di Vitello"!

Braised Veal Rolls In Tomato Sauce

12 thin slices veal shoulder or leg
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup dried currents, I used raisins
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
3 oz. sliced Prosciutto Di Parma, cut into 1/8 in. dice
1 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
4 cloves of garlic - I doubled
3 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 oz. sliced Pancetta cut into 1/8 in. dice
1 large Spanish onion thinly sliced
2 cups basic tomato sauce, see below
2 cups dry red wine - and a glass for yourself while you are preparing this!

Basic Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion cut into 1/4 inch dice
4 cloves of garlic - I doubled
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or you could use dried - 1-1/2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or used 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot finely shredded
2 - 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes - squished!
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste

Here are the instructions for the tomato sauce.
Heat olive oil over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme, oregano and carrots and cook about 5 minutes long, until the carrot is soft. Add the tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer until it gets really thick, about 30 minutes. Season with the salt.

Now for the veal rolls.

Using a meat mallet, gently pound each veal slice to 1/4 inch thick. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the pine nuts, currants, pecorino, prosciutto, parsley and garlic. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well. Season the veal with salt and pepper on both sides and lay out on a work surface. Divide the pine nut mixture onto the veal slices, leaving 1/2 inch border uncovered on each slice. Roll up each piece tightly, starting from the short side, then tie with butcher's twine.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the veal rolls, working in batches if necessary, and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate and add your pancetta to the oven and cook for 2 minutes, add the onion and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and wine to the pot and bring to a boil scraping up those yummy brown bits. Reduce to a simmer and add the veal back into the pot. Cover tightly and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let rest about 10 minutes.

I then put my veal on a platter and spooned the rich tomato sauce over.

The tip on this one is to have your tomato sauce pre-made. Then all you have to do is the veal part. It looks like alot of work, but actually if I can do it, so can you! For this dinner I served an Italian salad, fusilli pasta with olive oil, and Italian Country bread with sauteed mushrooms atop. I used fusilli pasta because those wonderful little grooves grabbed onto the sauce perfectly! We enjoyed a bottle of "A-Mano" 2005 Primitivo from Puglia with this dinner.

What a way to start the end of the day!



Shayne said...

I love love love Mario so much I could even say I think he is a little sexy, forget Bobby whats his name. And the food you made looks a little sexy too.

Nora B. said...

Perfetto!!! I will definitely be trying this even though it's spring. I am hopeless at making veal schnitzels (i refuse to fry them & have not any success trying to "oven fry" them), so this will be a better way for me to use the thin veal slices.

p/s: I'm going to the hunter this weekend to celebrate my friend's 30th! She doesn't know it yet. So far there are 14 of us going. So excited! The last time I was there was in Jan this year.

Anonymous said...

Brava! Beautiful cooking! That is a fancy braciole and sounds delicious. And wine from Puglia? This post made me one happy girl. Thanks :)

Cara said...

that aounds absolutely heavenly! I hardly eat veal at home but ate it several times on my cruise (along with lots of other red meat, what a change!) and can't wait to make some myself. I love the combination of pine nuts and currants.

Wendy said...

I've never heard of him but am looking forward to reading his blog. :)
Veal's very topical in the UK at the moment:
Many (including myself) wouldn't eat it on ethical grounds but production methods in the UK are changing and eating veal (pink not white) is becoming more common and, certainly, far more ethical. I haven't tried it yet so may just have to use your recipe soon!

Gloria said...

I don't know Mario Deb but the pictures are wonderful!!I think he is sexy too! I love the men that cook!!!The wine look wonderful, but Im thinking in a rose wine that a person that I know spoke in other post!! Gloria

winedeb said...

Hi Shayne, yes he is quite the guy!

Nora, I am envious of you going up to Hunter Valley for some great wine tasting! It has been awhile since my visit but I do remember Tyrells! Have fun:)

Hey Mary Ann, the sauce is awesome on this dish! You are welcome!

Hi Cara! I am not a big meat eater also, but my eye caught this one and I thought I would just give it a go. The sauce is wonderful and the pine nuts and currents give it a special touch!

Hey Wendy, it took me awhile to be able to deal with it also. It is not a meat that I serve very often. But every once in awhile I need to get "outside the box". I totally understand the ethical point. I think this dish would also go well with chicken breasts if you would like to give it a go. That is the way I plan to make it next time. The sauce is so great and flavorful. Also the pine nuts and currents add such an extra touch!

Hi Gloria, I think you would like Mario. He is fun! And yes, I am still a Rose' fan!!!!

Jen said...

I'd sort of heard of Mario but I got a proper introduction to him through a book called 'Heat' by Bill Burford. Have you read it? It's a fascinating account of Bill's dream to become a chef - and Mario is his mentor of sorts... Bill gets to work in the kitchen at Babbo and then retraces Mario's apprenticeship through Italy. Like I say, fascinating stuff!

That dish looks delicious by the way!

Lucy said...

No-one's food ever looks like it does in the photos...they have stylists and all sorts of industrial stength glues and whatnots to help them make the food look 'good'. I like that bloggers actually show you what a meal actually looks like - great work, Deb!

Valli said...

Braised veal rolls would be the perfce dish for these cool autumn nights Deb. Mario is not on the Food Network here in Canada with any of tyhe shows you mentioned but I do see him on Iron Chef. Down to a cool 70 degrees. We should all be so lucky!!!

winedeb said...

Hi Jen, you are not going to believe this but I just finished "Heat" about 2 days ago. Great little book! From most of the comments, seems like Mario is just on the network in the U.S.

Lucy, I suppose you are correct. Not all of us a food stylists, just bloggers who enjoy their food, wine and love to eat!

Hi Valli! As I was just saying to Jen, I guess Mario is just on the networks in the U.S.

Shaun said...

Deb ~ We must be cookbook twins or something - I have this book, too. I'm enjoying your review series. I have not tried this dish but I have made one of his meatball recipes and his chocolate and fennel torte (I think I have posted both on my blog...). I actually prefer his books to his tv shows because I can take my time to absorb his information. On his tv show, he talks a mile per minute, leaving me behind because my concentration has fuzzed out from too much information at once. Your veal looks gorgeous.

winedeb said...

Hey Shaun, I agree with you. I like Mario but he is a bundle of energy to watch. I cannot keep up with him either! I am glad you are enjoying my cookbook reviews and I find it interesting that so far, we both have the same books! Stay tuned!