Friday, August 18, 2017

Rigatoni al Segreto – Dinner and a Movie

This Rigatoni al Segreto recipe was the most closely guarded secret at Gino’s, one of New York City’s most famous Italian restaurants. It was as legendary, as their signature zebra-print wallpaper, and it won awards as the best red sauce in town. 

While there were rumors that the secret ingredient was butter, no one really knew for sure. Once the restaurant closed in 2010, the recipe got out, and indeed, the butter legend was confirmed. Having never been there, I was excited to try it, but there was a big problem. Actually, a small problem. The recipe called for just a half-tablespoon of butter. Regulars knew this couldn’t be right, and so the recipe remained a mystery. Was it a typo? Was the old chef just trolling people?

We may never have known; had it not been for a documentary called, “The Missing Ingredient.” It’s a great film, but despite the name, it’s not about the butter. However, there’s a scene near the end, where the old chef makes this pasta for the filmmaker, and it shows how much butter goes in.

He made a much larger amount than the published version, but I concluded that it was a typo, and should’ve been half a stick of butter. So, not only am I recommending that you make this delicious sauce, but I also really hope you checkout the movie soon (it’s on Netflix). Enjoy!


Ingredients for four small or two large portions:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 or 3 cloves crushed garlic
a pinch of red pepper flakes (not in original recipe)
1 can (28 oz) San Marzano tomatoes, blended smooth
1/2 cup water to rinse out the can of tomatoes
Small handful of basil leaves, left whole or sliced just before adding
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1.5 oz by weight), plus more to top
4 tablespoons butter, cubed
*8 ounces dry rigatoni

* This recipe probably makes enough sauce to coat 12 oz of pasta, but I like lots of sauce.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Building a Better Sausage Roll One Bite at a Time

I used to work for a caterer back in the 80’s, and sausage rolls were one of our signature appetizers. I loved them, the guests loved them, and so it never occurred to me that there was another, vastly superior, way to make them.

We used to bake the rolls first, and then cut them into bite-sized pieces, but years later I tried doing the reverse, and was stunned by how much better they were. The biggest challenge with sausage rolls, is avoiding undercooked dough, which is significantly easier when you bake the bite-size pieces, instead of the larger logs.

This method does take more work, but not that much more, and the crispier results more than make it worthwhile. Above and beyond the cut then bake method, the other way to make a better sausage roll, is to make your own sausage filling, as we’ve done here.

If time is tight, go ahead and just take some prepared sausage out of the casings,  and use that, but by making your own, not only do you get to season it anyway you want,  but you also know exactly what you’re eating,  which is not necessarily the case with store-bought sausage. Either way, whether for an indoor party, or outdoor picnic, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 16 Sausage Rolls:
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
1 clove crushed garlic
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs
1 sheet prepared puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm’s brand, which is probably the one you’ll find in the market)
1 large egg beaten with a teaspoon of water
sesame seeds to garnish

Monday, August 7, 2017

Oh Yeah, I’m on Vacation!

I must have been so excited about going over 2 million subscribers on YouTube that I completely forgot to publish the traditional, “Chef John is Vacation” post. 

Okay, that’s probably not the actual reason, but I did want to mention it. Hard to believe we have that many people following the channel, and that’s without the help of any Russian bots. Anyway, I’m on break this week as well, but will be back at it next week with two brand new videos. Stay tuned!

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Spanish Octopus – Now 100% Trick Free

I’ve never been to Spain, so to what extent this is actually Spanish octopus, I can’t really say, but after having enjoyed this underrated seafood in more Spanish restaurants than I can remember, it has to be pretty close.

Above and beyond the ingredients, the cooking method, or should I say methods, couldn’t be easier. As long as you braise it gently on low heat, until just tender, and then give it a nice sear before serving, you should be in great shape. Which is why I’ve never understood all the crazy tips and tricks, for achieving the perfect texture.

Some say to beat it on rocks before braising, while others insist a few wine corks are the way to go. If you have one of these magical techniques, I’d love to hear about it, especially if it sounds extra nutty, but I have to admit, I am a skeptic.

You should be able to find frozen Spanish octopus at your finer markets, which is the only kind I’ve ever used, so I can’t say how much better it is fresh, but one day I would love to find out, preferably in Spain. Fresh or frozen, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for two portions:
1 pound piece Spanish octopus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup white wine
- Serve with crusty roasted potatoes

For the sauce:
About 1/3 cup reserve braising liquid (boiled, strained)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley
salt to taste
cayenne to taste