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
This recipe is courtesy of Molto Gusto.
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.
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.