I’m lov­ing

We’re all on the hunt for the au­then­tic, whether it’s a din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with lo­cals or a meal of undis­puted ori­gin. But the in­au­then­tic – those crazy riffs and bizarre knock-offs – can be just as re­ward­ing as the orig­i­nal, says Matt Pre­ston, cel­e­brat­ing

delicious - - CONTENTS -

Sh-Ital­ian cook­ing rocks Matt’s world.

WE LIVE IN A TIME when au­then­tic­ity is praised to the heav­ens. You haven’t drunk real Guin­ness un­less that pint was made with the waters of the Lif­fey and sipped in Dublin. You haven’t had pad Thai un­til you’ve eaten it with Thai gang­sters in a night mar­ket in Bangkok. You haven’t tried gen­uine Ital­ian un­til you’ve slurped the Tus­can bean soup they serve in that bar off the square in Arezzo.

Enough, I say. It’s time for us all to ad­mit that we love proudly in­au­then­tic Ital­ian food, which, for the pur­poses of ex­cit­ing the in­ter­net beast, I shall call Sh-Ital­ian. This food is daggy but of­ten amaz­ingly tasty, and it ex­ists in ev­ery corner of the world. It might be Korea’s men­taiko spaghetti (the chilli cod’s roe creamy from warm but­ter and Kew­pie may­on­naise), or those deca­dent Chicago deep-dish piz­zas that have any self-re­spect­ing Neapoli­tan cry­ing for their mamma. Here, then, are six Sh-Ital­ian greats.


Carbonara was not, in fact, made by pre-Garibaldi char­coal mak­ers – it only ap­peared in Ital­ian cook­books af­ter World War II, cre­ated for the in­vad­ing GIs us­ing their ra­tions of US eggs and Cana­dian ba­con. It’s a clas­sic ex­am­ple of a Sh-Ital­ian dish – an Ital­ian idea rein­ter­preted to suit lo­cally avail­able in­gre­di­ents.


Spag bol doesn’t re­ally ex­ist in Italy, yet we love it here. Spaghetti meat­balls is an­other non-Ital­ian in­ven­tion: it’s from New York. Per­haps fa­mous pastas are like fa­mous chefs of Ital­ian food: more come from out­side the coun­try than Italy it­self.


Ital­ians might sneer, but tell me there isn’t a part of your soul that leaps when you see cans of pasta di­nosaurs, let­ters or hoops. All are bet­ter than true Ital­ian clas­sics such as boiled meat ( bol­lito

misto) or rolls filled with stinky cow’s in­testines ( lam­pre­dotto).


You’ll strug­gle to find pesto made from any­thing other than basil and pine nuts in Italy. No al­mond and cap­sicum; no cashew and sun-dried tomato. Imag­ine how much poorer life would be?


True Neapoli­tan pizza is made with an al­most monas­tic ap­proach, and the choice of top­pings is equally as aus­tere: no banana, ba­con and bar­be­cue sauce, no Mex­i­can or Hawai­ian themes.


Fet­tuc­cine Alfredo is the king of Sh-Ital­ian pasta. That you could make the sauce in a Nutribul­let was one of its big sell­ing points. It’s usu­ally poured over flabby, over­cooked green fet­tuc­cine. Head to de­li­cious.com.au for six more of Matt’s Sh-Ital­ian greats.


You will need a pasta ma­chine for this recipe. The home­made pasta can be sub­sti­tuted with 600g store-bought spinach fet­tuc­cine.

200g baby spinach 4 cups (600g) tipo 00 flour 9 egg yolks (re­serve egg­whites for an­other use, frozen,

for up to 3 months) 1 heaped tbs freshly ground black pep­per

1/ 2 cup (125ml) dou­ble cream 150g chilled un­salted but­ter, chopped 3 cups (240g) finely grated parme­san cheese

Place spinach in a food pro­ces­sor and whiz un­til very finely chopped. Us­ing your hands, com­bine spinach puree, flour, egg yolks and 1 tsp wa­ter in a bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured work sur­face and knead for 10 min­utes or un­til smooth and elas­tic. En­close in plas­tic wrap and chill for at least 30 min­utes.

Mean­while, pass pep­per through a sieve into a bowl, re­serv­ing coarser grounds from sieve in an­other bowl. Set both bowls aside.

Re­move dough from re­frig­er­a­tor and di­vide into 6 equal pieces, lightly dust­ing each with flour. Work­ing with 1 piece at a time and start­ing on the thick­est set­ting of your pasta ma­chine, run dough through 2-3 times, fold­ing in half each time, un­til elas­tic. Roll the dough twice through each set­ting, with­out fold­ing, re­duc­ing the thick­ness un­til 2mm thick. Re­peat with re­main­ing dough and hang pasta sheets over a hor­i­zon­tal bar for 10 min­utes to air-dry slightly.

Pass each pasta sheet through the widest set­ting of the fet­tuc­cine cut­ter on the pasta ma­chine, hang­ing each batch over a hor­i­zon­tal bar for 20 min­utes to air-dry slightly.

Bring a large saucepan of salted wa­ter to the boil and cook half the fet­tuc­cine for 30 sec­onds un­til just cooked through. Us­ing tongs, re­move fet­tuc­cine, drain and trans­fer to a bowl. Re­turn wa­ter to the boil and cook re­main­ing fet­tuc­cine. Drain and add to first fet­tuc­cine batch, re­serv­ing 1/4 cup (60ml) cook­ing liq­uid.

Re­turn pan to low heat and, work­ing quickly, add cream, half the but­ter and parme­san, re­served fine black pep­per and fet­tuc­cine, toss­ing to com­bine. Add re­main­ing but­ter and parme­san, and toss un­til well com­bined, adding a lit­tle re­served cook­ing wa­ter to loosen if nec­es­sary.

Di­vide among warm serv­ing bowls, scat­ter with re­served coarse black pep­per and serve im­me­di­ately.

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