Guest Blogger Mario Batali on Manly Cooking - Sweet Potato Chronicles - Sweet Potato Chronicles

Guest Blogger Mario Batali on Manly Cooking

Mario Batali and his busi­ness part­ner Joe Bas­tianich own fif­teen restau­rants across the coun­try, includ­ing their flag­ship New York City restau­rant, Babbo. He is the author of eight cook­books and the host of tele­vi­sion shows. He started the Mario Batali Foun­da­tion in May 2008 to feed, pro­tect, edu­cate, and empower chil­dren. Along with his wife and their two sons, he splits his time between New York City and north­ern Michi­gan. This small excerpt and two recipes are part of John Donohue's Man With a Pan; Culi­nary Adven­tures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Fam­i­lies.

If you ask my son Leo what his favorite thing to eat is, his flat-out response is, “Duck tes­ti­cles.” He’s eleven, and in fact, I think he’s only eaten them maybe four times. But he was fas­ci­nated by the idea that we were eat­ing duck tes­ti­cles. Benno, my thirteen-year-old, says his favorite thing is pasta, but Leo says duck tes­ti­cles. He may say it for the shock value and the provo­ca­tion, but he knows how he likes them: in a dish called cibreo, which is made with all of what they call “the gifts of a chicken.” It has the cockscomb, the wat­tle, unborn eggs, giz­zards, kid­neys, and, of course, the testicles.

I have din­ner with my fam­ily every night, no mat­ter what I’m doing at work, unless I’m not in town. Maybe I won’t eat because I’m going out some­where later on, but I sit down with my wife and sons, and I’ll have a lit­tle bit of salad or some­thing. We always sit down and talk every night. And that is a cru­cial com­po­nent. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily the food that’s the most impor­tant thing: it’s the fam­ily time, the undi­rected fam­ily time with no com­puter, no TV, no text mes­sages, no phone. Noth­ing is allowed dur­ing dinner.

Lin­guine with Cacio e Pepe

Serves 6
This recipe is cour­tesy of Molto Gusto.

Kosher salt
¼ cup coarsely ground black pep­per
6 table­spoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 table­spoons unsalted but­ter
1 pound dried lin­guine
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serv­ing
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano


Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 3 table­spoons kosher salt.

Mean­while, set another large pot over medium heat, add the pep­per, and toast, stir­ring, until fra­grant, about 20 sec­onds. Add the oil and but­ter and stir occa­sion­ally until the but­ter has melted. Remove from the heat.

Drop the pasta into boil­ing water and cook until just al dente. Drain, reserv­ing about ½ cup of the pasta water.

Add ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water to the oil and but­ter mix­ture, then add the pasta and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated. Stir in the cheeses (add a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if nec­es­sary to loosen the sauce) and serve imme­di­ately, with addi­tional grated Parmi­giano on the side.

Buca­tini all’Amatriciana

Serves 4
This recipe if from The Babbo Cookbook.

¾ pound guan­ciale or pancetta, thinly sliced
3 gar­lic cloves
1 red onion, halved and sliced ½ inch thick
1½ teaspoons hot red pep­per flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pep­per to taste
1½ cups basic tomato sauce
1 pound buca­tini
1 bunch of flat-leaf pars­ley, leaves only
Pecorino Romano, for grating


Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 table­spoons of salt.

Place the guan­ciale slices in a 12-to 14-inch sauté pan in a sin­gle layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been ren­dered from the meat, turn­ing occa­sion­ally. Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper tow­els and dis­card half the fat, leav­ing enough to coat the gar­lic, onion, and red pep­per flakes. Return the guan­ciale to the pan with the veg­eta­bles and cook over medium-high heat for 5 min­utes, or until the onions, gar­lic, and guan­ciale are light golden brown. Sea­son with salt and pep­per, add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat, and sim­mer for 10 minutes.

Cook the buca­tini in the boil­ing water accord­ing to the pack­age direc­tions, until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the sim­mer­ing sauce. Add the pars­ley leaves, increase the heat to high, and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese and serve immediately.

From MAN WITH A PAN: Culi­nary Adven­tures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Fam­i­lies, edited by John Dono­hue. © 2011 by John Dono­hue. Reprinted by per­mis­sion of Algo­nquin Books of Chapel Hill. All rights reserved.


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