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Recipe of the week: ‘Cheating’ your way to an Italian masterpiece
How English chef Jamie Oliver makes pappardelle with pangrattato
 

English chef Jamie Oliver claims that he never liked the title of the TV series that made him famous. The Naked Chef and its sequels had nothing to do with nudity, he says. The name was meant only to convey the simplicity of his recipes.

In his new cookbook, Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life (Hyperion), Oliver calls “Cheat’s Pappardelle” a great dish with “slap-you-around-the-face flavors.” Here, too, the name requires an explanation. You can “cheat” in preparing this recipe by not making your own pappardelle.  Instead, Oliver recommends that you simply cut ready-made fresh lasagna sheets into thick, pappardelle-size noodles. Pangrattato is the name for yet another kitchen trick. Impoverished Italians used to make this rich bread-crumb mixture to give their food extra flavor when they had no Parmesan cheese.

Recipe of the week
Cheat’s Pappardelle With Slow-Braised Leeks and Crispy Porcini Pangrattato

5 big leeks, outer leaves trimmed back, washed
Olive oil
3 good knobs butter, divided
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
A few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
Small wineglass of white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint good-quality vegetable or chicken stock
12 slices ham, preferably Parma
2 (8-oz) packages fresh lasagna sheets
All-purpose flour, for dusting
2 handfuls freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving

For the pangrattato:
1 small handful dried porcini mushrooms
½ ciabatta bread, preferably stale, cut into chunks
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Halve leeks lengthwise; cut at an angle into ½-inch slices. Heat wide saucepan; add splash of oil and knob of butter; when you hear gentle sizzling, add sliced garlic, thyme leaves, leeks. Move leeks around so every piece gets coated. Pour in wine, season with pepper, stir in stock. Cover leeks with slices of Parma ham, place lid on pan, cook gently for 25 to 30 minutes. Once leeks are tender, take pan off heat.

Bring big pan of salted water to boil. Lay lasagna sheets on clean working surface, sprinkle with a little flour. Place sheets on top of each other, slice into ½-inch strips. Toss through your fingers to shake out pappardelle, then cook in boiling water 2 minutes or until al dente.

Remove Parma ham from saucepan; slice up and stir back into  leeks. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in Parmesan and rest of butter. Drain pasta, reserving a little cooking water; add pasta to leeks. Add a little cooking water if need be for a silky, smooth sauce. Serve quickly, sprinkled with some pangrattato, extra Parmesan, and any leftover thyme tips. Serve the rest of pangrattato in bowl on side. Serves 4 to 6.

To make the pangrattato:
Whiz mushrooms and bread with pinch of salt and pepper in food processor until mixture looks like bread crumbs. Heat generous glug of olive oil in frying pan. Add garlic cloves and rosemary, cook for minute, then fry bread crumbs in oil until golden and crisp. Keep shaking pan—don’t let bread crumbs catch on bottom. Drain on paper towels, discard rosemary and garlic, allow bread crumbs to cool.

 

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