If you’ve ever found the time to turn on the trusty television and catch quality programming on TLC, you’ve probably caught an episode or two of Kitchen Boss. Kitchen Boss sees Chef Buddy Valastro, of Cake Boss fame, whipping up classic Italian dishes just as old nan made them (well, his, not mine). This is a step away from his baking roots and comfort zone. How well will he fare in dishing out meals instead of cakes? Here’s a look at the boss of this daytime television kitchen.
 
How long have you been baking?
 
My father was teaching me how to bake and run a business ever since I stepped foot inside the bakery. When I was 17, he passed away and I used all of the skills he taught me to run the bakery myself. I knew I had a gift for baking and I wanted to use that to make Carlo’s Bakery the best it can be. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps.
 
What are you like in the kitchen?
 
I’m very organized. I have a plan and I execute it. If something goes wrong, I find a solution and make sure the end result is something up to my standards…and delicious!
 
Which do you prefer - Baking or cooking?
 
You know, I love both. Although, I would say baking comes more naturally to me.
 
Does the passion for baking run in the family?
 
Yes. I’m really seeing more of an interest in baking from my kids. It would be great if one of them wanted to take over someday.
 
Who usually cooks at home?
 
My wife Lisa usually cooks. I can’t always get home to cook a big meal, so she handles dinner most nights.
 
How do you get creative with your dishes?
 
Well I love to be challenged, so if there is a new technique I haven’t tried or a new ingredient available that I haven’t used, I usually like to tackle it head-on and create something really delicious.
 
What is the toughest part of your journey becoming a chef?
 
Definitely when I had to take over the family business myself when my father passed away. There were days when I didn’t know if I could do it. But I worked through it, kept baking and I made it.
 
What is the most important thing to remember in the kitchen?
 
Pay attention to the recipe and enjoy what you’re doing. You’ll get the best dish if you do both of those things.
 
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SUNDAY GRAVY

 
Here’s a recipe from Valastro, a dish he makes for his family every Sunday.
 

1. Meatballs:

 
  • ½ pound ground sirloin
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 4 slices fresh white bread
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 plump cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large beaten eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons minced Italian parsley
  • ½ cup finely grated pecorino
  • ½ cup Breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
 
Tear the bread into small pieces. Place in a small bowl, cover with water and allow to soak for 5 minutes. Place the ground meat in a large bowl. Squeeze out and discard the water from the bread. Add all remaining ingredients to the meat, combine well with your hands and form into meatballs approximately 2" in diameter. Shallow fry the meatballs in a large sauté pan until golden brown on all sides, 3-4 minutes per side.
 

2. Braciole:

 
  • 2 thin slice beef round cut for braciole, approximately 1 pound
  • 3 plump clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup Breadcrumbs
  • 4 Tablespoons grated pecorino
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
 
Lay the beef between layers of plastic wrap and pound out gently with a meat mallet. Lightly salt top surface area. Sprinkle each piece of meat with garlic, breadcrumbs, pecorino, parsley and a few grindings black pepper. Fold in the short sides, then bottom, followed by the top to enclose and create a long bundle. Secure meat with toothpicks or butcher’s twine.
 

3. Sauce:

 
  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 5 garlic cloves (pressed)
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp basil (chopped)
  • 6 ts sugar
  • 3 cans of plum tomatoes (28oz can)
  • 3 cans of crushed tomatoes (28oz can)
  • 1 can filled with water
 
Additional ingredients:
 
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage links
  • 1 pound meaty lamb neck bone, cut into 2 inch pieces
 
 

Preparation:

 
Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Lightly salt the lamb neck bones. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the neck bones to the pot, sear them on all sides until golden brown. Remove the neck bones and set aside. Add the sausage links to the pan, sear them on all sides and then remove and set aside. Sear the Braciole in the pot as well. Once seared on all sides, remove from the pot.
 
Build the sauce in the stockpot. First add in the onions to sauté for a few minutes. Then the garlic, basil and oregano, add in the cans of tomatoes, water and sugar. Allow the sauce to come to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add back all of the seared meats, as well as the meatballs.
 
Allow sauce to simmer 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally and making sure nothing is scorching on the bottom of the pot. When done to your taste, with tongs, remove all meats to a platter. Stir sauce and reduce if necessary. Taste and correct for salt, if needed.
 
Slice the sausage into serving portions. Remove string from braciole and slice into portions. Leave neck bone to pick through for those who wish to do so.


KITCHEN BOSS airs every Tuesday at 7:00p.m. (1900 hrs) SIN/HK on TLC, Starhub Ch427.

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