Cooking authentic Italian food at Casa Barilla Cooking School

On 7 May 2016. I had the pleasure of attending the ‘Pride of Parma and the Food Valley’ cooking class at the Casa Barilla Cooking School.

Parma is a city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, famed for Parmesan cheese and Parma ham. Therefore, with these two kep ingredients in mind, the two meals choosen for the class were: Taglialetto, with Parma Ham, Asparagus and Roasted Capsicum; and Veal Tenderloin with Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Before you start cooking Barilla pasta, it is important that you note:

  • Use one litre of water per 100 grams of pasta
  • Do not add oil to the water when the pasta is cooking, it will cause the pasta to slide off
  • Use seven grams of salt per litre of water
  • Do not rinse the pasta after cooking it. Rinsing removes the light the light starch coating, which is important for holding the sauce.
  • Use as much pasta as you do sauce.

Choose good quality pasta when cooking. You can determine the quality of pasta after you have placed it in water. Top notch pasta does not froth when added to water, is golden when cooked and the cooking water is clear after you have cooked the pasta.

The recipes of the food we cooked is documented below.

Taglialetto, with Parma Ham, Asparagus and Roasted Capsicum

Ingredients

250 grams of Barilla Egg Tagliatelle

1/2 jar of Barilla Basilico sauce

2 shallots, thinly sliced

160g of Parma Ham, sliced julienne

One bunch of green asparagus , cut in disks (cut of the tips to use as garnish)

Three red capsicums, roasted in the oven, peeled and seeds removed, cut in slices

80ml of extra virgin olive oil

120g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a fry pan, heat two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to heat. Add the shallots, the sliced Parma Ham and saute until golden. Add the asparagus disks, season to taste and cook for a further two minutes, and then set them aside. Roast the capsicums in the oven, remove them when cooked and peel them. Blend them with a mixer and the 1/2 jar of Basilico sauce and one tablespoon of olive oil. In a non-stick fry pan, over medium heat poor half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano in a round metal case. Turn it over to cook on both sides. Watch over it because it can easily burn. Cook the pasta following the packet instructions. Remove the pasta from the boiling water, one minute before the suggested time. Toss the pasta into the fry pan with the parma Ham, add the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Allow your pasta to finish cooking ‘al dente’ adding a little of the cooking water. To serve, pou a layer of capsicum sauce on the plate, create a pasta nest on top of the sauce using the laddle and a big fork, top with the crisp Parmigiano disk and garnish with the asparagus tips that you should cook in the pasta water for one minute in the end.

Veal Tenderloin with Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Ingredients

600g of veal tenderloin, cut in four portions

Four slices of pancetta

Two cloves of garlic

150g of button mushrooms, cut in quarters

1/2 glass of white wine

1 sprig of thyme

40g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

50ml of cream

50ml of extra virgin olive oil

60g of fresh spinach leaves

80ml of Balsalmic Vinegar of Modena

Salt and pepper to taste

Wrap the veal tenderloins with the pancetta, tie with a kitchen string and season with salt and pepper. In a fry pan with olive oil,  garlic, thyme saute the meat for two minutes and then add the mushrooms. Add the wine and allow the alcohol to evaporate, cover with a lid and cook for five minutes. remove the string from the tenderloin and rest for a few minutes. In a different fry pan, pour the vinegar in the pan and cook over medium heat until it becomes thick and concentrated. At the same time, in another saucepan, bring the cream to a boil and ass the Parmigiano Reggiano and whisk vigorously until the cheese is melted and the sauce has thickened. Toss the spinach in a bowl with extra virgin olive oil and salt. lay the spinach on the serving plate, add the mushrooms, then the veal on top, dress the meat with the Parmigiano Reggiano sauce and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.

All in all, the class was fun and the food was delicious. I wonder whether the food was so great because we cooked under the watchful guidance of Michelin star chef, Andrea Tranchero, who ensured we did not make any blunders. I will find out when I attempt to cook the same meal at home with some of the ingredients from my goodie bag.

The cooking class costs $90 per person and includes prosecco and antipasto on arrival, all food and a glass of wine with your meal, and a generous goodie bag to take home.

Classes have a maximum of 16 participants. You watch a demonstration by a chef before you attempt to cook it yourself.

For more information, go to www.barilla.net.au

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