Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meals with Marcella

I know. I'm already behind on my 24 Roast Chickens project. Why in the world am I starting another one? Maybe I'm just crazy, but don't you worry. I'm not one to bail out of a project I've already started. I'm four posts behind on the roast chicken project, and I only have six chickens left to cook before the end of the year. Wait. It's November, right? Crikey.

In any case, I decided to start this project back in September. Back when I thought I was in better shape with the roast chicken project. And since then, I've actually made some decent progress on this new project.

So what's this new project?

I'm going to cook my way through Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking." For those who aren't familiar with Marcella Hazan's genius, and as jaded as she probably is with the comparison, she's basically the Julia Child of Italian cooking. Unlike "The Joy of Cooking," this cookbook highlights some of the best Italian dishes I've ever tasted with only a handful of ingredients and a realistic amount of time. For example, and I know I've raved about this plenty of times before, Marcella Hazan's Roast Chicken with Lemons.

No, I'm not looking for a movie deal for "Michael & Marcella" (oh snap, I just exposed my first name to the world of people who read this blog, which also happens to be the world of people who already know my name). I'm just a guy who loves Italian food to death, but hasn't gotten around to actually cooking the stuff. I'm not doing a countdown of how many recipes I have left, and I'm not doing this thing within a year. Heck, I don't even know how many recipes are in this tome. I'm going at my own pace and using an old-fashioned pen to write in little check marks next to the recipes I complete.

My approach to this project is going to be in the format of whole meals composed of recipes taken out of the "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" cookbook. Just doing one recipe from the cookbook doesn't warrant a check mark. The project is called "Meals with Marcella," so meals they will be. The back of the cookbook does provide some recommended menus, but I refuse to look at them. I imagine they don't include every recipe in the book, and I like the idea of tackling each menu on my own. Maybe at the end of this project I'll take a look at those menus and compare notes. Some meals will be for special occasions, others will be for a simple meal with friends. But every meal will be memorable. I hope.

As with all of my posts that share recipes that aren't available on the Internet, I'm not going to copy the recipe onto the post. I'm no lawyer, but if I've learned anything in the past two-and-a-half years as a law student, copying recipes from cookbooks onto this blog probably raises some red flags. As much as I'd love to share each and every recipe, verbatim, out of this cookbook, this project will primarily serve the purposes of (1) sharing my personal journey of learning how to cook one of my favorite cuisines, (2) providing a visual appendix to the actual cookbook, (3) providing guidance on constructing a decently (I hope) cohesive meal, and (4) inspiring those who have never even picked up a kitchen knife to pursue some of these amazingly simple and accessible recipes.

Yikes, what am I writing here. An abstract?

Anyhow, thanks all for reading, and I hope you all enjoy the ride!

Mangia bene, vivi felice!


  1. this will be a sick project. love hazan!

    ps. try the milk-braised pork shoulder. so easy, so amaazeballs

  2. Yes! Spoiler alert. I made it in meal #3.


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