Is there anyone who doesn’t like Italian food? With its fresh flavors, comforting carbs, and sublime sauces, this cuisine is beloved the world over, and for good reason.
Another great thing about Italian cooking is that you don’t have to keep a pantry’s worth of exotic ingredients on hand to create delicious, iconic dishes.
All you need are some back-pocket recipes, a few staples, and these five methods of turning individual components into a satisfying meal!
Whether it’s using a simple saute pan and just a few tablespoons of oil, or turning to the deep-fryer to make crispy delicacies, frying is indispensable to Italian dishes.
Yes, you can bake chicken or eggplant parmesan, but they won’t be as delicious as when you fry these breaded cutlets in some EVOO.
Another amazing Italian dish that can’t be created any other way is arancini — balls made of cooked rice, peas, prosciutto, and cheese that are then rendered golden-brown in a fryer.
What is braising? It’s a good way to make the tougher cuts of beef or pork tender and delicious, but it can also be used with chicken.
Essentially, braising involves two steps. The meat is first browned in oil, using a sturdy dutch oven or shallow lidded pan. Then liquid is added — stock, wine, water, or a combination — and the dish continues to cook either on the stovetop or in the oven.
We have braising to thank for such classic Italian foods as chicken cacciatore and braciole.
3. Boiling or Simmering
Boiling and simmering are similar preparation methods that vary only in degree. Boiling is necessary for one of the most iconic Italian meals of all: pasta. To make a sauce for that pasta, you’ll want to simmer flavorful ingredients together on the stovetop.
An Italian ragu gets its depth from a long, low simmer that allows the ingredients to meld together deliciously. The same is true of a classic soup like minestrone or pasta e fagioli.
What would Italian cuisine be without wood-fired ovens? Pizza-less, for one thing. And we don’t want to conceive of a world without pizza!
While you can make a decent pizza in your oven, a wood-burning oven reaches high temperatures, allowing the pie to cook to perfection in a matter of minutes. A wood-fired oven is also a great way to prepare the bread for any type of crostini.
If you don’t have a wood oven in your backyard, why not fire up the grill? Grilled pizza is a fantastic change of pace, and a super dish to serve company.
Or get your hands on some thick, juicy Italian sausages. Throw them on the grill, turning occasionally until beautifully browned and cooked through. Serve with soft wheat rolls and top with a tempting mound of grilled onions and peppers.
Final Thoughts About Italian Cooking
Is your mouth watering yet? Italian cooking can be complex or extremely simple; it can be done indoors or out. The keys are to use the freshest possible ingredients, to master these five cooking methods, and to make your dishes with love. Buon apetito!
Want to go straight to the source for your Italian cuisine? Check out these four can’t-miss dishes.