Chatting with Gennaro Contaldo about all things Parmigiano Reggiano
The legendary celebrity chef stopped by to chat about Italian food, cheese, cream in Carbonara, pineapple on pizza – and give us three dreamy recipes
The legendary Gennaro Contaldo almost doesn't need an introduction. He's one of the UK's most loved chefs, he's widely known as the man who taught Jamie Oliver all he knows about Italian cooking, he spent time entertaining us with the late, great Antonio Carluccio on 'Two Greedy Italians', and he's written a dozen best-selling Italian cookbooks, covering everything from pasta through to slow cooking.
He (virtually) stopped by for a chat about all of the above, his love of Parmigiano Reggiano – and gave his very strong opinions about pineapple on pizza and cream in Carbonara (no prizes for guessing his opinions on those two subjects!).
It was a bit of an honour chatting to Gennaro. He's always been one of my favourite chefs, and I loved the Two Greedy Italians show. I remembered an episode when the pair were cooking a stew with polenta, and Antonio spent most of the time asleep. Gennaro said it wasn't just for the cameras – he genuinely had a snooze while Gennaro was busy cooking! The two of them also gave the camera crew a bit of a tough job during filming, because they were so interested in everything going on, finding little hidden streets or people to talk to around every corner.
Gennaro Contaldo Parmigiano Reggiano recipes
Gennaro is the brand ambassador for Parmigiano Reggiano in the UK. The fit is so good – it was clear chatting to him that he’s super passionate about Italy’s favourite cheese, and not just because he was waving a big chunk of it at me over the airwaves.
Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Gennaro Contaldo on board as a brand ambassador for Parmigiano Reggiano. Having grown up eating and cooking with Parmigiano Reggiano, Gennaro understands the authenticity, craftsmanship, and heritage behind the product, and is the perfect fit to develop plenty of delicious recipes with the one and only Parmesan”.
While chatting, he even managed to give us a few recipes for the perfect Ragu, Carbonara and the world's quickest pasta dish – all featuring delicious Parmigiano Reggiano.
Gennaro Contaldo's perfect Ragu recipe
"Two different kinds of meats – pork and beef, or veal and beef, or veal and pork. Or perhaps you only have pork, or you only have beef.
"Seal the meat properly in olive oil, let all the water evaporate.
"On the side you have celery, carrot and onions. Nothing else, that is that.
"If you want herbs, you could use rosemary
"Once you’ve sealed the meat, remove, and using the same pan, seal those vegetables.
"Then you add the meat back, and add a glass of wine – Lambrusco. The region Ragu is from is is Lambrusco. Let the wine cook down, then you add stock, and tomato puree.
"No tins of tomatoes!
"Once that’s in, add the rosemary if you’re using it.
"In Bologna, they seal the meat with prosciutto as well, but I’m keeping it simple.
"Turn the heat down and cook for about two hours, slowly, slowly, slowly.
"For the pasta, if there's three of you, need three eggs. Organic eggs, and 300g 00 flour. Mix it together, let it rest for half an hour. Roll it out – if you can get a pasta machine it’s much better. Thin cuts, do some tagliatelle.
"Ragu is done.
"Put a little ragu in the pan, the pasta takes a minute to boil, remove it, put it in the pan with a bit of the ragu, stir it, put it on a plate, nice block of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated on top. If there is something better in the world, I do not want to know."
Gennaro Contaldo's perfect Carbonara recipe
"Cut your Guanciale into small cubes – or pancetta or bacon if you can’t find Guanciale.
"Put the cubes in a pan with hardly any oil at all. Let it melt.
"Boil your spaghetti, or your bucatini, that works nicely too. Remove it off the heat and drain. Add the pasta to the pan with the Guanciale and saute it.
"In a bowl, add two egg yolks, Parmigiano Reggiano (some people use Pecorino, I like mine with Parmigiano), mix it up, add a little bit of cold water in the bowl with the egg yolks.
"Take your pasta off the heat, and add your eggs, and keep stirring. Stirring, stirring. Then slowly you put it back on the heat – if you need to put it back on the heat.
"Put it on a plate. Nice bit of black pepper. Bit more Parmigiano Reggiano. So simple."
Gennaro Contaldo's quickest ever pasta dish recipe
"A quick recipe. Garlic, chili, basil, in a pan, little bit of water. Boil some pasta. Saute all together. Don't forget *Parmigiano Reggiano*. Hallelujah!"