Eat out, drink up '
rig for your supper
Whether it’s a baked ziti or spicy mussels, you want your ltalian meal to be a hit. We put Tony Soprano’s favourite chef to the test and discovered what he’s made of. Words: Paulie Dale
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as there ever been a TV drama that takes food more seriously than The .S'upranasl’ We have a central figure whose psychological trauma can be traced back to childhood memories of seeing a pork salesman having a finger chopped off and his own mother threatening him with a fork while cutting up the Sunday roast. You can almost absolve him of blame for razing Artie‘s restaurant for ‘business‘ or freaking out when the unstable (iloria chucks a side of beef at his head. Yet. there is still joy to be had with the feasts
prepared for and by The .S'upranas. At the end of
series one. with Tony having marginally survived a hit on his life. he takes the family to Artie Bucco‘s new restaurant to toast a bright new future. So. we tried out a few treats that may have been dished tip on that stormy night.
When testing out a new cookbook. it is wise (guys) to set a target. Our goal was to provide a hearty meal for seven people. the minimum average of an ltalian thanksgiving meal. So it was that my beautiful assistant Marcia (Marco before a recent ‘alteration‘) and 1 found ourselves in a well— equipped kitchen in lidinburgh's Ntiovo Town with a £25 bag of groceries and four hours to cook.
We had selected four dishes: one meal. one seafood. one vegetarian and a side dish. Starting with the vegetarian dish. .laniee's \egetarian Baker/ Zili — courtesy of Tony‘s soya-inunching sis involved the longest preparation time and was the only one that needed baking. ()n the surface. this is
just a normal vegetable bake: onion. garlic.
mushrooms. peas and pasta (in this case ziti) but also healthy helpings of ricotta. tomato puree. mozzarella and basil. Who said veggie food has to
be low fat'.’ This is easy to prepare. even though the recipe itself contains a few quirks: do you know the correct way to wash ltttlslit‘ooms'.’
Next up was something more traditional. Rigatoni with Sweet Sausage and 'limiala Saaee.
This is a stove top dish that‘s all in the reduction of
the sauce. The sattsages are browned in garlic and wine and then set to simmer for well over an hour in a tomato and basil sauce. We made the mistake of preparing the rigatoni (one of the largest shapes in the pasta kingdom). which is cooked separately. far too early. Otherwise this is fairly achievable and
jtist a matter of watching the pot.
Zap/2e (Ii ('a::e (mussels in spicy tomato sauce) which has an equivalent in most nations’ cuisine is the quickest and easiest dish in the book but given an extra kick with some peperoncino (dried red pepper). We found that this was best prepared once the capos had walked through the door. had embraced their chefs and proceeded to sit-down. The side dish l’asta e l’atale (pasta and potatoes) may sound strange but apparently it‘s a
mainstay in the Soprano household. The idea of
putting pasta and potatoes together may be repellent to some but this is actually delicious. It takes about 45 minutes in total and is simply a case
of frying and boiling down generous quantities of
pancetta (ltalian cured pork). carrot. celery. garlic. onion with potatoes and macaroni. Add to this loads of flat leaf parsley and enough grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese to make your arm ache. This may be a side dish but would even satisfy a ravenous Tony.
l)id our guests enjoy it‘.’ Of course they did. llaving licked their plates. they filled up with cheeky ltalian reds to toast the culinary genius of Artie Bucco before getting whacked.
The Sopranos Family Cookbook, as compiled by Artie Bucco, is published by Hodder & Stoughton on
Thu 17 Oct, priced £16.99.