Sternbergs cooking school, part 58: A trip to Italy

opinion Sternbergs cooking school, part 58

A culinary summer trip to Italy

The Sternberg chefs explain the secrets of Italian cuisine The Sternberg chefs explain the secrets of Italian cuisine

The Sternberg chefs explain the secrets of Italian cuisine

Credit: Victoria Bee Photography / Getty Images / Moment RF; Sasha Perrone

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Walter Stemberg and his son Sascha run the star restaurant “Haus Stemberg” in Velbert. Together they write about the basics of cooking. This time we are going on a culinary journey to Italy, the land of pizza and pasta.

Dsummer vacation has begun – the best time to travel. Being on the go is always exciting for us, also for culinary reasons. We do not know when we have traveled a country without talking to the chefs about their approaches and little cooking secrets when we go to a restaurant. The world of cooking – one big family, you start talking right away.

In the next episodes of our cooking school – until the end of the summer holidays – we will take you on a culinary journey through Europe. It starts in Italy. Bella Italia. Just thinking about the Italian summer has Celentano’s “Azzurro” in mind, and you can see pizza and pasta on the restaurant table. The Italian cuisine is fresh, focused on good ingredients and clean. It is the kitchen of love, the kitchen of joy, and it is also a little strict. An absurd dish like Pizza Hawaii would never exist in Italy. An Italian chef friend of ours once told us the following: Every time someone in Germany eats a Hawaiian pizza, a poor pizza baker dies in Italy.

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The so-called Neapolitan pizza is very popular, especially here. The pizza as they like it in southern Italy. In the north, they prefer hard and brittle soil. Neapolitan pizza is characterized by the fact that the dough is soft and thick and has a more intense taste. In northern Italy, pizza is as firm as a vinyl record, you can put it in the palm of your hand. It is better not to do it in the south. Neapolitan pizza impresses with an extremely delicious tomato sauce, and instead of Gouda, Parmesan or buffalo mozzarella, Fior di Latte is used as a gratin cheese, also a mozzarella and the main secret ingredient of Pizza Napoletana. Also important: It is baked in a stone oven for a maximum of 90 seconds and at more than 400 degrees. This powerful heating causes the pizza to bubble and create what is called a leopard print.

In Italy, pasta is still made all over the country, especially in the countryside. No movie cliché: the Italian Mum (or Nonna, ie grandmother) is in the kitchen preparing the pasta. This is neither expensive nor complicated. Above all, fresh pasta tastes better than dried from the package. It is doughier, has a better grip, and the sauce sticks better to it. An essential dish that is synonymous with Italy is spaghetti carbonara. What is offered under this name in Germany has nothing to do with the real carbonara in 99 out of 100 cases. In Germany, carbonara almost always means: pasta with cream sauce, ham and peas. To that we say straight out: Uff, the devil.

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A carbonara worthy name works like this: For four people you need 800 grams of fresh pasta (alternatively 500 grams of dried pasta from the package). 200 grams of smoked pork, cut into cubes. Two whole eggs (plum and white) plus two egg yolks. 80 grams of grated parmesan (stored for 24 months) and 80 grams of Pecorino. Fill a saucepan with 60 milliliters of olive oil, sweat the bacon over medium heat and remove from the heat. Then fill a pot with no more than two liters of water. Never use too much water when cooking pasta. You need some pasta water for the carbonara. If you fill the pot too much, the taste of the water will literally be watered out later.

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While the pasta is cooking (two to four minutes is enough for fresh pasta), mix eggs and cheese, preferably with a hand mixer (leave some cheese). When the pasta is done, empty it (just do not rinse it, a common bad habit) and collect 150 milliliters of pasta water. Now it has to go fast. Place the pan of bacon back on a hot stove, add pasta and pasta water, and then the cheese and egg mixture. Use a fork to turn the pasta over the bottom of the saucepan until the egg has set. The pasta water prevents burning. Immediately transfer to four plates and season with sea salt, black pepper, the rest of the cheese and flat-leaf parsley. This is how Italy tastes.

Walter Stemberg and his son Sascha run “Haus Stemberg” in Velbert, whose star in the restaurant guide “Guide Michelin” was recently confirmed for the ninth year in a row. In WELT AM SONNTAG, Stembergene writes about the basics of cooking. All episodes online: www.welt.de/kochschule

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