Or better titled “how I ruined Poor man’s Parmesan”. One thing hugely missing in my life is a mentor who can show me how to cook in the traditional Italian ways. The dictionary tells me that a mentor is “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher”. Without one of these, ususally a nonna (Italian grandma) or mother to help me learn the traditional ways, I am on my own. My dad taught me all he could while he was alive but now that he is gone, I don’t have anyone. Maybe someone is out there and I just need to start asking around. Who knows! At this point, I am taking it all in stride and learning from my failures.
My hubby wants me to let everyone know that he takes some of the blame for this ugly mess:
It might have been a combination of factors that led to this semi-disasterous food-like substance. I had the wrong oil to breadcrumb ratio, the heat was too low then too high, and I have the wrong pan altogether. Ah, 14 inch stainless steel skillet why must you be out of my reach when I need you most? I need to buy one of those soon. But first let’s address the ratio business.
I read on Michael Ruhlman’s blog how he learned about ratios and the important role they play in cooking. Cooking is all about the math, who knew? He wrote an entire book, called Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, dedicated to the art of math in cooking and what ratio means to recipes and outcomes. I am going to purchase this book as soon as I get more free Amazon gift cards through Swagbucks.
Commercial break- I earn those gift cards by searching through Swagbucks and earning their free “bucks” which I then redeem for gift cards. Since August, I have earned over $100 dollars in gift cards to Amazon and it doesn’t cost a thing. Contact me if you want more info.
Back to your blog reading pleasure now. So I need to get the ratio correct for one. Second, I need to learn the fine art of toasting breadcrumbs in olive oil and what heat to use. In hindsight through more searching, I learned that one must keep stirring the breadcrumbs over a medium heat for about 5 minutes to achieve the toasted effect. I sure hope that is correct information. I will try this recipe, if you can call it that, again if for nothing else but to succeed. I am challenged!
So here is the recipe I used, loosely based on some basic research. Please don’t use this recipe as the ratios are wrong, I believe. I want others to learn from my mistakes as well.
Poor Man’s Parmesan
5 cloves garlic/sliced
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2c-3/4c seasoned bread crumbs- I ended up with over 1 whole cup
1/4c olive oil
Heat oil in skillet, add garlic and pepper, cook 2 min. It looked good at this point.
Add bread crumbs and cook until toasted.Again, at first it looked good.
Obviously we toasted too long and ended up with this mess!
We did eat it. After toasting the breadcrumbs add cooked pasta and small amount of pasta water or oil. Actually we added quite a bit of water and olive oil since it was slightly burnt. Serve with small amount of shredded Parmesan cheese.
Here is the finished product, plated, with the sausage and peppers we made(recipe follows).
It really didn’t taste that bad but it’s really not what we were shooting for in this experiment. Stay tuned for the journey to create this dish again. I’ll tell you one thing, if this is cucina povera cooking, my family would starve because I can’t even do a simple toasting of breadcrumbs!
I am reaching out to you experienced cooks for help. What or where did I go wrong? Are my observations correct? I need a mentor, pronto!
Sausage, peppers and shallots
1 pound mild Italian sausage-links
1/2 red pepper sliced
1/2 green pepper sliced
2 med. shallots sliced
Make sure the sausage registers 155 degrees inside. Slice and serve with Poor Man’s Parmesan, if you dare!