The Mind of a Chef (2012) s02e12 Episode Script


In this episode of The Mind of a Chef, April Bloomfield explores the influence that Italian cuisine has had on her cooking.
It was the most delicious thing I'd ever eaten.
Legendary cookbook author Marcella Hazan roasts a veal shank.
Turn it.
This is good.
Do you want to taste this? No.
Chef Michael Tusk prepares maccheroni with spit-roasted squash.
Oh, look at the juice.
We might have to fight over that one.
April makes stuffed pasta.
People love them.
They call them little fluffy balls of clouds.
And travels to Oakland to make sausages with Chef Chris Cosentino.
You really squeeze it really hard at the bottom.
Squeezing hard, baby.
Enter the mind of a chef.
Sometimes it's the simplest stuff that really kind of blows your mind.
This is the best thing I think you'll ever eat.
My first inkling that I wanted to cook Italian food was when I watched Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers on TV.
They used to have this TV show called The Italian Kitchen.
Their food was simple, but it looks super tasty, you know.
This was like food porn galore.
I'm as far from Italian as one can be.
I probably shouldn't be cooking Italian, but I just love it.
I fell in love with making pasta, risottos.
I mean there's nothing that I would not enjoy making.
Just simple, simple food, not messed around with.
Marcella Hazan is a prolific Italian cookbook writer.
I mean she practically changed the way Americans think about Italian food.
She taught herself how to cook because she wanted to feed her husband, Victor.
Keep turning.
To become a master at that, and bring that to a mass of people, I mean that's pretty special.
I'm super excited because I got an opportunity many years ago to come for lunch and you cooked the most amazing delicious veal shank, which was superb.
I'm very happy that you liked it.
I loved it, so we're going to do that today.
You're going to just guide me through it.
Just put the knife in to divide the skin from the bone.
These shrink here and became like a big lollipop.
The best thing about this is it's super savory.
You put anchovies and garlic, some onions, and it becomes this unctuous, slightly salty lollipop.
It's actually easy to do this, isn't it? You have to really divide that from the bone.
I'm not doing a good job.
You make me blush.
Am I blushing? It doesn't look like it.
Oh, oh, okay.
Now how far down do we go? Well, you have to go around.
If not you have one part that will shrink.
The other stay up.
And the other part So it's a little bit like this, right.
When it shrinks, you are able to make a nice slice.
Okay, that is enough, I think.
It's good? So, what's the next step? Do we need to add some oil and then sear it? Yes, okay.
So we're going to get more color, we want to keep turning it.
Well, yes, brown all around.
So how big do you want the onion chopped? Any way you like it as long as it's chopped.
Now don't be shouting at me, Marcella, if I'm not doing this right.
It was so nice to get invited to go to Marcella Hazan's house to cook with her.
It's like a dream come true.
At one stage I was chopping an onion and I misunderstood what she was saying, and so I chopped my onion the wrong way, and she's like, "I didn't show you how to chop the onion that way," and I was like, "Okay.
" I don't mind getting told off, especially if it's Marcella Hazan, you know.
Okay, a really wonderful job.
Thank you.
And the onions.
Yes, you can put them now.
Put in the garlic, it smells so good.
And the butter.
I like Italian food, Marcella, because it's so like simple.
Well, we never use too many ingredients.
Yes, I like that.
Me too.
Because it's super delicious.
That brown's nice.
I can't wait to eat this.
It's good.
Now, you like to cook on the top, you don't like to put this in the oven.
No, because I don't like to keep opening the oven to see what is happening.
Because I don't have patience, okay? I get it.
I mean, she's feisty.
Even at 90.
I think she probably taught a fair few people to cook through a firm hand.
So we're going to add some anchovy.
This is going to give the dish some depth and complexity and You have to put some, but go slowly.
Yeah, go slowly.
These babies are salty.
I like these when they go crispy.
We'll do the wine now.
Yes, how much do we put in? Oh, keep going.
Yeah, you say when, okay? Okay.
It's good? More or less.
Oh, it smells so good.
Anchovies are coming out, the onions are caramelized.
We're going to put a lid on this and cook it for about two hours maybe.
When it's done, that's it.
You can turn it any time you want.
It's not precise.
One thing is not to leave it there for too long without checking.
Right and then it's like Turn it in a little while.
This is good.
Do you want to taste this? No.
I never taste.
I smell.
You smell.
Well, this smells very beautiful.
Open up.
Open up.
It needs a little more salt.
It does? Oh, so we need some pepper.
Smell it.
It does need salt.
This is fancy, look at this.
I like because it puts the light on.
I love this.
This is good.
Here is cooked and here is not.
See? So you have to check it and move it.
So it's nice and rested.
Let me check it.
Yeah, you want to check it? Yes.
Okay, what do you think about that, Marcella? That looks pretty amazing.
Want to have a little taste? Oh no, you taste it.
Oh, I taste it? Oh yeah.
That looks pretty sexy.
If you don't mind me saying, Marcella.
Me first? It's pretty amazing, it's like, whoo.
It's good? It's spot on.
You want to try it out? We should probably serve some of this.
Cut it like this.
Oh, on an angle? Yes.
Oh, I see, see, I just learned something again.
Ah, like that.
You look like you like it.
It's great.
You can gnaw on the bone after.
Thank you.
Mike Tusk is probably one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.
He makes pasta like nobody else.
He makes them just a little bit richer and adds his own little twists.
We are with Mike Tusk and you're going to show us how to do this pigeon.
We're going to make a little spit-roasted squab ragu with light-seasoned fava beans, and then I'm going to come down and take the breast off.
Then I'm going to render up this skin, so we have some little cracklings because the cracklings are my favorite part, providing some texture to the dish.
Can't wait.
This is great.
Look how juicy they are.
Yeah, they're very beautiful.
Right, what's next? Grab a tiny pinch of olive oil, take our reserved skin.
I mean, they're just going to taste so good, aren't they? You can never go wrong with cracklings in my book.
While this is cooking and that's cooking, you want to chop up this breast meat.
It's a pretty rustic pasta we're making so I'm just going to go chunky here.
So we've already made a little squab au jus.
I mean this smells so, so good.
Let it simmer.
In the meantime, I'm going to put this on high heat.
The cracklings are ready.
You want to just chop them up a little bit? Yeah, definitely.
Anything crispy really is delicious.
I'm going to strain some of this sauce off.
Any time I can use the whole bird, that's usually my goal.
And I'm just going to add some of this reserved meat to it.
Some of the breast meat, a little bit of the leg meat.
I keep eating all your cracklings.
We have plenty.
So now we're ready to go on the pasta.
Here's our maccheroni that we made earlier.
Cook maybe three or four minutes.
We're going to go with the favas right in the sauce.
They're going to cook through in there.
You can see they expanded a little too.
Let the magic begin.
I just want that sauce to really absorb the pasta.
This will take a minute or two.
That's my favorite part, reintroducing the sauce, the whole bird's coming back together.
The pasta's getting a nice glaze to it.
Just about ready to go.
It's looking good.
Great, show time.
It really picked up that sauce nicely.
Yeah, it's going to be pretty delicious.
Oh, cracklings.
Put a little extra on yours.
Thank you.
A little more oil.
Little cheese.
And voila, maccheroni al torchio with spit-roasted squab, fava beans, and some squab cracklings.
Dig in.
There's nothing like talking about a limp, thick sausage.
I have this kind of like, I just want to make sausage, you know? All sorts of sausage.
Fresh sausage, salami.
So to get an opportunity to work with Chris and see him and see how he ties.
To be able to understand what he's doing just by watching, like picking up these little tidbits, it's super cool.
So you want to stuff some salami? Uh, yeah.
This is a whole lot of sausage, huh? Yeah, I think sausage is really special, especially the way you work with whole animals just like we do.
Yeah, it comes from very humble origins.
The whole concept of whole animal butchery is utilizing everything.
You use certain cuts for certain things and when you trim those things to get nice cuts, trim makes sausage, sausage is delicious.
So the machine is an automated stuffer, it's set up to stuff a specific amount per salami.
So you can see Steven, it's foot-pedal-operated.
We're using beef middle casings; we try to do sets of two.
So you want to tie? Yeah, yeah.
Black string, it's all-natural hemp.
Do you have a different color for every sausage? Every one we make.
So black is pepato.
Do you just do a double knot? Double knot.
Try to move all that meat up.
Make sure it's taut, squeeze her up as she goes.
It's funny how you call a sausage a her.
There's nothing like a nice, firm sausage.
Right? Oh, I agree.
So you want it to be taut in the middle.
That looks good.
Really squeeze it really hard at the bottom.
Squeezing hard, baby.
Come under, and I use my thumb to catch it.
You start to pull it.
Like this? Yup.
God, I'm all fingers and thumbs over here.
And now what do I do? You want to tie down the end.
A regular knot.
And now I'm going to make a loop.
You have this gap and that's going to be our hanger.
It's funny.
These guys are fast.
I know, how long does it take you to get through like a 950-pound batch of sausages? We're done usually by lunch.
Oh, really? You guys want a job? April Not funny.
You guys must smell so good at the end of your shift.
Your wives and husbands must love you.
Now is there a specific amount that you want to poke? I try to go three to four and then I turn it, three to four.
So if some of these in like three months look a little shady We'll send them all to you.
You're going to get this care package.
With a skull and crossbones.
From this point we rack them and put them on the bridge.
And then we put them on the trees.
And now we trim off all the excess.
This is like giving your sausage a little haircut, isn't it? Yes, it's man-scaping.
It's very satisfying this part of the job.
Okay, grab the whole rail.
You want to slosh them in there all the way.
That's our mold solution.
Good bacteria so it's going to help it bloom.
Sausages taking a bath.
Oh, I'm loving it.
I just love hanging out with sausages.
Shall I go at the top? Perfect.
This is the April sleeve here, okay? Whoo.
Once it's full, we get all these guys done, we're going to take them and put them in the fermentation room.
You know, it's like a present, isn't it? Breaking down this whole animal and letting this sausage hang for however long, and then you're like, okay, keeping an eye on it, it's like a little baby.
You nurture it, you love it, you make sure it's growing up nicely, and then by the end of it you slice it open and you know? It is like magic.
Like a little present to yourself.
I'm having so much fun.
You might not get rid of me, babe.
That's okay.
Wow, that's amazing.
It's so lovely to see these, they're just so alive.
They're living.
It's just like cheese, it's a natural organism, it's going to live, it's going to breathe, it has a fermentation.
I love when you squeeze them, all those little spores, they just go poof.
We want that to happen.
The more that happens, it coats the inside and you want it in here so it blows back out.
Circulates back out and helps propagate that good mold.
Like they look perfect.
You know, they'll start to weep when they're ready.
The mold has done it's job, now it's saying, "Okay, eat me.
" I'm ready.
These are spectacular, I mean look at them.
Thank you, we try.
Eating pasta is about the pasta and not about the sauce.
It's about balance, making it vibrant.
Simple, local.
It's the attention to details.
All those things make Italian food great.
We're going to make some tortelloni.
Mike kindly gave me some Bellwether cow's milk ricotta.
Mike's going to pick some marjoram.
I got some pine nuts that I just toasted just to make it a bit more complex.
I like the sound of the pine nuts when they pop.
You can hear them like this.
So I'm just going to add these.
See, I like a little texture: toasty ones, whole ones, small ones.
A little salt and a little bit of parmesan.
This is just to just kind of like fortify it a little bit.
Give it some lemon zest, a bit of olive oil.
I think this is pretty good, it just needs the marjoram there, yeah.
Tell me when.
That's great.
Snuck some extra in there.
That's great.
All righty.
Just get a little crease in.
There's something so nice about cutting these into perfect little squares.
I like to use spray bottles.
We have many of those.
I bet.
So, this is the navel of the pasta, it's called navel, right? I quite like those little stories, yeah.
This is an outie.
Actually, it's an innie.
Innies are nicer than outies, aren't they? Don't you think? I do.
Do you have an innie or an outie? I'm not saying that on camera.
Yeah, I'm not going to tell you mine either.
These are beautiful.
It's a very elegant shape, I like your style.
Thanks, babe.
These won't take long at all.
Minute, minute and a half.
Teamwork, it's all about the teamwork.
Cool, little bit of this I like a little bit of butter, delicious.
Because the ricotta's so nice and moist, they're going to be nice and smooth.
I think these are ready.
Give that little marjoram a chop-a-roonie.
Give it a little sprinkle here? Yes, please.
Not bad, right? Gorgeous.
Good job, they're nice and easy.
Marcella, I'm going to show you how to do a dish that I absolutely fell in love with when I went to Italy.
It's basically a gnocchi, and you would know it as gnudi, which are these lovely little dumplings.
They're super simple to make.
What is inside it? Sheep's ricotta.
And outside? Outside is semolina.
And a little bit of parmesan cheese.
No water.
So if you break it open Okay.
You can see that this semolina has kind of created a skin on the outside of the ricotta.
They call this gnudi because it's naked in Italian.
Like a naked ravioli, so there's actually no pasta, just a little semolina.
So I'm going to show you how to do that right now.
Awesome, well, I got a little bit of salty water.
We're going to do how many do you want to eat? We do six? I don't know.
Let's do seven.
So we're going to drop these in hot water.
Just like gnocchi, cook those for about a minute.
I'm just going to grab some of the water.
Like that.
Going to add some butter.
Just drop that in.
Bring it up to the boil.
By the time this melts a little bit, these gnudi will be ready.
I like this dish because when they cook, they get all fluffy and this hot melted ricotta, which makes your knees tremble, you know, gets you excited.
So you see how the butter is melting, and we're going to take this over here.
Now have you made these before? No.
They're very delicious.
Just give a little shake.
Shaking gently helps bring off all this semolina which will help thicken the sauce.
A little cheesy sauce.
The butter and the parmesan adds a little richness to it.
Smells good, doesn't it? Mm-hmm.
So then we're going to finish this with a little of the brown butter I made.
What is that color? It's the milk solids.
It's made with a little bit of cream and a little bit of butter until it splits, you you just keep whisking it and it becomes this nice brown milk solid.
Would you like to dip your finger in? It's really sweet and delicious.
Okay, so these are pretty ready.
So I'm going to take them out.
How do you know they're ready? Because they're all hot inside, they're nice and soft, the sauce is nice and thick.
I hope you like these.
These are my favorite things to eat.
We serve these at the Spotted Pig and people love them.
They call them little fluffy balls of clouds.
Then we picked some sage from your terrace.
Yeah, your lovely sage.
Going to go on top.
And a little fresh parmesan like this.
Would you like to taste? Yeah.
What do you think? Very good.
Yeah? They're nice and cheesy, aren't they? A bit of your sage.
What about chopping up very fine basil, spread it around? Oh, that's a good idea.
Maybe a bit more raw so it's a little more fresh tasting.
This gets a bit delicate when you fry it.
So that freshness from the sage would be awesome.
Maybe a bit of nutmeg would be good.
Yes, very much.
Yes, that's a nice idea.
Mmm It's better, right? Yeah, perfect.
Does this get the Marcella seal of approval? I like that.
You do? Whoo! Thank you.
Almost going to cry.
No, don't do it.
I don't have a handkerchief.
There's a misconception that simple food is easy.
Actually, making simple food is the hardest thing to do ever, because you have to pay attention to the details.
There's nothing masking what you're doing.
Very good.
Every dish that I make or I reinterpret, I kind of keep that philosophy and I put it into everything I do.
That's the thing about Italian food.
Bit of nutmeg would be good.
It just kind of hit my soul because I'd never tasted what looked like simple food being so delicious.
So good.
The best thing about this is you're using every part of the animal.
I'd love to cook Italian food for the rest of my life, but the creative part of me is always interested in moving forward.
I want to do so many things that sometimes my brain is just kind of like It kind of explodes or implodes.
Not bad, right? Yeah.
I don't think I'm ever going to stop.