Mario Batali’s Mint Love Letters

On April 21, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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If you are ever in New York City, I highly recommend Babbo.  It’s an Italian restaurant from celebrity chef Mario Batali.  It’s amazing.  I say Mario is a “celebrity chef” but he is the real deal and is by far my favorite chef. His approach to Italian food that used to be featured in his Food TV Network show Molto Mario, back when Food TV had good shows instead of all of this competitive reality crap.

My favorite two dishes of Babbo’s are the oxtail gnocchi and mint love letters.  I’ve tried making both but have been more successful with my attempts at the latter than the former.  Nothing I’ve made is equal or better to what I’ve had a Babbo’s.  That said this is a very impressive dish and it is definitely worth your time and effort, especially considering how Babbo’s isn’t around the corner from my home.

This dish took about a hour and half to make, so do it on a weekend, not after work.

First thing you’ll want to do is make the Basic Red Sauce. I did this the day before.. The recipe is simple and uses these few ingredients.

First start with making your pasta dough, I use a basic recipe that requires 30 minutes after the dough is made making sure it is not sticky and wrap it in plastic. Let it sit and make your filling.

For the Mint Love Letters, ie the Ravioli, you’ll want to start with the filling.  Blend peas, mint, Parmigiano Reggiano, heavy cream and salt and pepper using a food processor. I’d advise adding the heavy cream separately until you develop a thick paste that will hold as the filling in the pasta sheets.

Now work with your pasta creating two sheets of similar size and shape that you’ll use to create about 3 to 4 raviolis.  I run the pasta through the rollers starting at thickness 1 working down to thickness 5. You can go as low as 6, but you will have some rip. I recommend thinning the sheets to size 5 thickness.

Prepare each ravioli using two thin sheets of pasta dough and small dollop of filing making sure it’s not too large as you don’t want it bursting later when boiling.

Continue making your raviolis and dust with flour so they will not stick to each other. Also start heating your water to bring to a boil, lightly salt.

Start your sauce by lightly browning your spicy ground lamb. If you do not like lamb, use ground beef and add a 1 teaspoon of each of basil and oregano and add a few flakes of dried red pepper.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, being careful not to overcook or undercook.

While the ravioli is boiling and the meat is lightly browned, add the red sauce and about 5 chiffon leaves of fresh mint before serving. Cook the red sauce and meat for about 3 minutes.

Add several raviolis to each plate and complete with the meat sauce.  Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve.


Recipes:

Basic Red Sauce

Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage 

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Gordon Ramsay’s Shepherd’s Pie

On March 18, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Thank you FoodieChats. If you are not familiar with #FoodieChats on Twitter, I highly recommend you join the weekly chat held every Monday night at 8pm EST.  The group’s Facebook page posted a Shepherd’s Pie recipe from Gordon Ramsay that looked quick and flavorful so I decided to give it a try.  Here is the video rapidly showing how to make it:

 

Boil 5 medium Yukon gold potatoes in a pot of salted water.  Let them cook for about 10 minutes and start cooking the meat filling while potatoes cook.

First you begin with a pound of ground beef and a 1/2 pound of ground lamb. Cook it down, not letting it burn or get dry. Using a grater mince 1 1/2 medium size carrots and a small red onion and 2 cloves of garlic.

 

Let that all cook for about 3 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of worcester sauce, 1/2 cup red wine, 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary, and 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme. Let that combine and reduce until the wine is reduced by half for about 3 more minutes.  Then add 1 cup of chicken stock.  Let that cook down until the liquid is evaporated.

Once evaporated, spread the meat mixture into casserole dish.  Your potatoes should be ready by now and you can mash them with some milk, butter and 1/4 cup of Parmasen cheese.

Now spread the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture using a cake knife to make it smooth.  Using another 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmasen cheese spread that on top of the potatoes and then “fork” the potatoes to give it small peaks. Place in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes checking for a nice light brown top, no burning.

Will serve about 4 people.

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