The celebrity chef looks to seek out and preserve the culinary knowledge of Italian nonnas in his new TV series
First episode of 'Jamie Cooks Italy' to air in the UAE, plus recipes from the show
Jamie Oliver's latest TV show, Jamie Cooks Italy, sees the chef celebrating Italy's famed nonnas (grandmothers) by sampling, cooking and looking to preserve their traditional dishes. The first episode will air on November 4, on Fox Life at 7pm.
Oliver hosts the show along with his mentor and best friend Gennaro Contaldo. The duo spent more than two years making the eight-part series, and travelled to some of the most remote areas of Italy, visiting the kitchens of various grandmums, learning their recipes and cooking techniques.
From what we've heard, in tonight's episode, the pair meet 92-year-old Franchina, on the island of Salina off the north coast of Sicily. Nonna Franchina, who began cooking for her family at the age of 10, serves up a stuffed squid braised in her own home-made passata, which leaves Oliver speechless.
The show is accompanied by a cookbook of the same name, and here's a recipe for Nonna Teresa’s pasta:
Recipe: Crispy horseradish & chilli breadcrumbs pasta
As Oliver notes in his book: "A good pangrattato (flavoured crispy breadcrumbs) has the ability to add not only flavour, but also incredible texture to a meal. The use of horseradish here is very unusual, yet very delicious and makes total sense as it was one of the few vegetables growing locally to Teresa. Dishes like this respect the scarcity of ingredients."
Cook time: 15 minutes
300g dried bucatini or rigatoni
50g coarse stale breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
5cm fresh horseradish
2 cloves of garlic
½ bunch of fresh thyme (15g)
2 dried red peppers, or 8 sun-dried tomatoes
Olive oil and extra virgin olive oil
Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain, reserving a mugful of starchy cooking water.
Meanwhile, for the pangrattato, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan on a medium-high heat with the breadcrumbs and chilli flakes.
Peel and finely grate in the horseradish, then fry for 5 minutes, or until crisp, stirring regularly. Tip into a bowl and put aside.
Return the frying pan to a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Peel, finely slice and add the garlic, strip in the thyme leaves, then tear in the dried peppers, discarding the seeds.
Fry for just 1 minute, then toss in the drained pasta, loosening with a little reserved cooking water, if needed.
Season to perfection, divide between warm bowls, drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil and generously sprinkle over the pangrattato.
Recipe: Chocolate cannoli (crunchy pasta tubes stuffed with silky chocolate grappa ricotta)
"Cannoli are fantastic. Traditionally they’re bigger than mine and contain chunks of candied fruit, nuts and chocolate, but I wanted to go a bit more delicate, and ricotta is the filling hero here. It is helpful to buy some metal cannoli tubes, which you can get online – just squeeze them to 2cm in diameter before use," notes Oliver in his book.
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes, plus resting
2 large free-range eggs
250g plain or Tipo 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
1 litre sunflower oil, for frying
200g dark chocolate (70%)
100g toasted hazelnuts
600g ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons runny honey
2 heaped teaspoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon grappa
In a large bowl, whip 1 egg with the marsala and 3 tablespoons of oil. Gradually add the flour (you may not need it all) until it comes together into a ball of dough. Knead for a few minutes, or until smooth and silky. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for 1 hour.
Pour the sunflower oil into a large, sturdy pan on a medium-high heat, and leave it to get to 180°C on a thermometer. Meanwhile, roll the dough into a large sausage about 4cm in diameter.
Keeping the rest of the dough covered with a clean damp tea towel, slice off a ½cm-thick disc and roll into a ball, then flatten out on a flour-dusted surface to 2mm thick. Lightly dust your metal cannoli tubes with flour (or use lightly oiled dried cannelloni tubes), then wrap a circle of dough around each, sealing the edges with beaten egg. Working in batches, carefully lower into the hot oil for just 1 minute, to get lightly golden. Remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain for 3 minutes, then squeeze the moulds and gently slide off the cannoli. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough.
Melt the chocolate. Pound the hazelnuts in a pestle and mortar until fine. Drain the ricotta, then blitz in a food processor with the vanilla paste, honey, cocoa and grappa until just smooth. Spoon in to a piping bag with a star nozzle, and twist the bag to give tension, then pipe the filling into the cannoli. Drizzle with chocolate, sprinkle with nuts, and serve.
Read our full interview with Oliver here.