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Matthews

Assistant Cook
Joined
Jan 22, 2024
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7
Location
USA
Hi everyone!
What unexpected ingredient or technique have you recently discovered that completely transformed a regular dish into a culinary masterpiece?
Share your surprising cooking revelations and let's spice up our kitchens together!
 
Although not ground breaking, it was ground breaking for me. I always see those baby artichokes in the produce section. I always wondered why people would by the little ones, since the big ones are tedious enough to trim and eat. Then finally, I posted something about them here, and some one recommended trimming them to the hearts ( since they are young and tender, you can leave a lot more behind than their adult counterparts), and sautéed them or whatever , Thats when the light bulb went off. I felt like an idiot, cause I've been eating them like that for ever ( the trimmed marinated small hearts), but just never thought to trim and do myself. Now every couple of weeks I get them, but prior to that, I avoided them like the plague.
 
Baby artichokes are usually used for preserving in oil over here, just like "oil -preserving" artichoke hearts cut up into slices, like the ones I just bought today :
 

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I’m absolutely not a patisserie and never have been.
When I worked kitchen, we always had a specialist in that area.
Since I retired, I very much stayed away from pastries at home.
Until one day I got the muse to make pies. The one thing that I learned over the course of making my own pastry was that the freezer is your friend. Between each step of making your pastry, freezing it for at least a half hour ensures you get that short crust really perfect.
 
Well, I love pasta and been making it all my life and even my 2 mentors who were 1st generation Italian chefs used either smoked bacon or pancetta for carbonara or amatriciana which I adopted, this was back in the 80's.

Of course if your Italian and live in Rome or in the vicinity this is a mortal sin and never to be spoken, ever.

In Canada even at most higher end Italian restaurants they used bacon or pancetta and didn't apologize for it. I know because I worked in a few of them. Well, that is not what should be used and I knew that and that guanciale (pig cheeks) was the original ingredient. Guanciale has never been a thing, even in Italian deli's for the most part and from what I determined it seemed to be from the lack of demand, it was just never a common item found, but I'm sure there were a few that did.

Anyway for the last 5 years I've sourced and been using guanciale and have had hit and miss success with the product. It has a distinct taste and aroma that unfortunately doesn't end up in all imported guanciale which is very frustrating, because it makes you, as a chef question the reasoning and the additional cost that a dish using guanciale requires and needs to make sense and because, lets face it, a good smoked bacon is not really a bad thing, right lol. No, that wrong and I finally convinced myself to make my own guanciale and I have 5 cheeks in the walk-in aging and coming up to 8 weeks. I tested it last week and made a carbonara with it and while it wasn't that bad it still needs to age I think another 4 to 6 weeks, I'll keep you posted.

I guess the moral of the story is, it's hard to go forward unless you know where you came from so I'm back where guanciale in these dishes line up with the stars, and that goes back as far as the big bang as far as being a traditional Italian ingredient. The stars are aligning lol.
 
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The first time I made pasta alla gricia, I followed the recommendation of the youtube video which showed me how to make it, and used pancetta. I thought it came out too hard, so the next time I used bacon and had a better result. But since you really need the bacon fat to make the sauce, you don't want it to be too lean. I have only once even seen guanciale in a store, and it was roughly three times the cost of bacon.

I absolutely adore spahetti alla gricia, though, using bacon and pecorino.
 
The first time I made pasta alla gricia, I followed the recommendation of the youtube video which showed me how to make it, and used pancetta. I thought it came out too hard, so the next time I used bacon and had a better result. But since you really need the bacon fat to make the sauce, you don't want it to be too lean. I have only once even seen guanciale in a store, and it was roughly three times the cost of bacon.

I absolutely adore spahetti alla gricia, though, using bacon and pecorino.
glad to see your using pecorino, most use parmigiana.
 

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