Italian cuisine is without a doubt one of the most popular in the world, and where ever you go you are bound to find at least one Italian restaurant nearby. How authentic the food is will depend upon who owns the restaurant, but luckily there are definitely many incredible Italian restaurants in our country.
But what about if you’d like to rustle up some Italian yourself at home? There’s nothing nicer than learning how to cook your favourite dishes so that you can cook them whenever you like! Read on for a quick guide on how to master Italian cooking at home.
Use the best produce
One of the most key elements to getting Italian cooking just right is to make sure that your produce is really good quality. Your produce is the cornerstone to any dish you make, and since with Italian cooking the techniques are fairly simple, your dish will suffer if the ingredients are no good.
Farmers markets, food co-ops and independent retailers that sell the freshest produce are your best bet rather than the supermarket since supermarket produce is usually harvested before it is fully ripe and transported for long periods of time, causing it to suffer in quality.
Try to be mindful of the seasons, and learn what is in season at the moment. Learning to spot the best produce is a skill that will improve the more you practice and research!
Master tomato sauce
We spoke to Bella Cosa, an Italian restaurant on Canary Wharf who’s chef is from Brindisi in southern Italy. They told us:
“tomatoes in many ways define the basis of a lot of Italian dishes, so nailing down your own technique for making tomato sauce is a great place to start when getting to grips with Italian cooking.”
“There are many different ways to cook a tomato sauce, from quick sauces to those that are simmered slowly with a lot of deep flavours. Spend some time getting to grips with making different tomato sauces until you have discovered a few favourite approaches that allow you to make a tomato sauce that feels like your very own.”
Get to grips with bolognese
Mastering ragù is another important step to nailing Italian cooking at home, and bolognese is probably the first that you should try to master.
If you’re unclear on what exactly a ragù is, it is essentially a type of sauce made from minced or ground meat and is often made with tomatoes although this is not always the case. Bolognese is an absolute classic, and probably one of the greatest meat-based sauces you could hope to master.
True bolognese should not be a tomato-heavy sauce with pieces of meat in it, but rather the tomato should be an accent to the sauce. Herbs and spices can feature in the sauce, but it shouldn’t be dominated by them, and butter and wine add depth and a balanced flavour.
This recipe from Serious Eats is a great place to start if you want to master a basic bolognese, and it is much more true to the Italian way of cooking it than many others you’ll come across on the internet.