Today’s guest post is from renowned chef Mario Batali, as he shares some Michigan holiday memories from the Leelanau peninsula, along with one of his recipes! Check out the bottom of the post to learn how you can win a copy of his new book Molto Batali.
Thanksgiving has come and gone. And boy was it delicious. I know you’re probably too full to think about your next big meal. But just as you begin to see the bottom of your Tupperware container, it’s time to start planning the next big family feast for the holidays.
My family and I love Christmas more than any other holiday because it means we’re in Michigan. And while there’s little that rivals a New York Christmas, Susi, my boys and I can’t wait to be in Michigan, where the lawn is already sprinkled with snow (or blanketed if we’re lucky) and we can finally get some peace and quiet. Finally.
Christmas is also the perfect time to make some hearty and rich meals. In our house, that means lots of braising, pasta sauces, ragus and soups.
One of my favorite winter recipes is in my newest cookbook, Molto Batali. The Spaghetti Grossi with Hen Ragu is ideal when I’m in Michigan. The rich and complex flavors of the sauce make me forget that I started with a chicken. The meaty, hearty and earthy taste is just perfect for a chilly December night.
But the holidays are only as special as the amount that you give, and giving to others can be as rewarding as time with your friends and family. Though we’re doing for others throughout the year, at this time of year in our home, we try to make more of an effort to include philanthropic work. And this year, we’re giving back – lots! In conjunction with the launch of Molto Batali, The Mario Batali Foundation recently announced the “Molto Dollars” Matching Program, which is going to help raise 250K by February! And to help things along, I’m going to personally match the first 100K raised, and Aperol Spritz will match the first 50K, so your dollars are going a long long way. And when it comes to helping children, those dollars can really make a big difference.
I couldn’t be happier this holiday season, being in one of my favorite places surrounded by all of my favorite people. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have such a beautiful place to call my second home but even luckier that my family and I are fortunate enough to enjoy our holidays, with our health and a wealth of delicious food. Which is why giving back is even more necessary – so we can help others have that same feeling – there’s simply nothing like it in the world.
Enjoy your holiday season!
Spaghetti Grossi with Hen Ragu
Recipe courtesy of Molto Batali (ecco 2011)
4 bay leaves
4 carrots, peeled
2 shallots, peeled
1 whole chicken (3½ to 4 pounds), giblets and liver set aside for another use
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 medium Spanish onions, chopped into ¼-inch dice
2 celery stalks, very thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups basic tomato sauce (for quick results, try my Mario Batali pasta sauces by Gia Russa; see page 312)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1½ pounds thick spaghetti (spaghetti grossi; or use bucatini)
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 as a main
Pour 4 quarts of water into a 6- to 8-quart soup pot. Add the bay leaves, carrots, shallots, and 2 tablespoons salt, and bring to a boil. Add the whole chicken and boil gently for 35 minutes, until very tender. Carefully remove the bird from the pot and set it aside until it is cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, strain and discard the carrots, shallots, and bay leaves from the chicken stock. Place the soup pot over medium-high heat and reduce the cooking liquid to 2 cups.
When the chicken is cool enough, remove and discard the skin. Remove all the meat and pull it apart into teaspoon-sized pieces. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the butter over medium heat until the foam subsides. Add the onions, celery, and garlic, and cook until the vegetables are soft and golden brown. Add the wine, tomato sauce, and 1 cup of the reduced chicken stock (save the remaining cup for another use), and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour, until thick. Remove from the heat.
Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large pasta pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Drop the thick spaghetti into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions indicate. Just before the pasta is done, carefully ladle ¼ cup of the cooking water into the hen ragu.
Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it to the ragu. Toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds, until the pasta is nicely coated. Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, with the Parmigiano on the side.
PLUS, Mario has ten copies of his book Molto Batali that we’re looking to give away! Here’s how to enter:
- Leave a comment on this post about your favorite Michigan holiday memory (only one comment per e-mail address please).
- On December 6th at 5 p.m., we’ll randomly pick ten winners and send each a copy of the cookbook. We’ll contact you using the e-mail address you provide (we won’t share it or sell it to anybody).