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Antonio Carluccio, the undisputed king of pasta, taught us some top tips and recipe ideas at his pasta masterclass hosted by Divertimenti Cookery School.
'MOF MOF' – minimum of fuss; maximum of flavour – is the secret to success with cooking pasta. That, and if you're adding garlic to your Bolognese, then you're doing it ALL WRONG!
• 100g pasta should be cooked in 1 litre of water so the pasta doesn't reabsorb the starch.
• Add 10g of salt per litre of water to stop it being slimy.
• Fresh is better for larger bands of pasta like ravioli.
• Dried penne has a roughness, which is great for collecting more sauce.
• Linguine or flat pasta goes best with seafood.
At our demonstration Carluccio cooked us a fresh and delicious linguine with king prawns and fennel. He simply fried onions, added fennel bulbs with a bit of water until evaporated, then added dill and prawns until cooked. He plated it up with a drizzle of olive oil. He suggested that you could use spaghetti too if you have some at home.
We make Bolognese all wrong. All you need is onion cooked in a bit of oil, two types of mince – pork and veal – cooked with tomato chunks, tomato paste and dry white wine. Don't add herbs: 'you ruin everything with oregano,' according to Carluccio! Let it cook for at least 2 hours or as long as you like. It's all about the taste of the meat.
There should be no cream in carbonara. Fry cheek of pork or ham in oil till crisp. Beat together egg yolk and Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Put the mixture on top of the cooked pasta, stir but don't cook otherwise you get scrambled egg. Simple.
This was my favourite dish that Carluccio cooked for us. It's a soup that's made using the leftovers of many packets of different pasta shapes, called munnezzaglia (meaning rubbish in Italian).
White beans (cannellini) are soaked and whizzed to a paste, then a soup is made from stock, bits of ham, garlic, tomatoes, beans and the leftover pasta shapes.
Antonio Carluccio's new book, Pasta, is out now (Quadrille, £20)
PASTA E FAGIOLI - PASTA AND BEAN SOUP