Wednesday, December 14, 2016

16 Things Marcella Hazan Taught Us About Cooking


It's been almost three years since Marcella Hazan's passing, but her flame still burns bright. The legendary Italian author of groundbreaking cookbooks like Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking still inspires awe from food-world luminaries like Mark Bittman ("She taught me how to cook and think like an Italian home cook"), Jacques P├ępin ("What was admirable about Marcella was her honesty about cooking. She created simple, high quality, delicious dishes without fuss or superfluous embellishment."), and Mitchell Davis (“Decades after I first picked up one of Marcella’s cookbooks, after countless visits to Italy, I am always amazed that when I am looking for the definitive recipe for an Italian dish I crave, she’s got it.”).

In fact, it seems there are still new cooking insights from Marcella to share. Her final book, Ingredienti, co-authored with her husband Victor, was just published by Simon & Schuster. But Ingredienti is no cookbook. Instead of recipes, it's a collection of opinionated insights on everything from Parmigiano-Reggiano to zucchini.
And that got me thinking. Even more than her recipes for creamy polenta or Bolognese sauce, it's Marcella's tips, warnings, and observations that have stayed with me, seeping into how I cook every day. Below are just a sampling. Read these—and then read the books they came from, including Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and Marcella Says. Finally, pick up Ingredienti for one last helping of Marcella's wisdom.

1. ALWAYS START COOKING ONION (OR GARLIC) IN A COLD PAN.

Sure, everyone loves the sizzle that happens when you throw chopped onions or minced garlic into a pan of hot oil. But Marcella taught me that starting those aromatics in a cold pan means they cook up more gently and gradually, creating luscious, tender onions and light-gold garlic that never tastes overwhelming or acrid.

2. PEEL YOUR RED PEPPERS. EVEN IF YOU DON'T WANT TO.

 
It sounds fussy, I know. But Marcella was never a fussy cook. So since she insisted that peeling red peppers made a difference, I gave it a try. The result? Sauteed peppers with a silkiness that rivaled that of roasted peppers—and no annoying bits of pepper skin caught between your teeth, either.

Read more: 16 Things Marcella Hazan Taught Us About Cooking

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