Mario Batali became a household name on the Food Network as the featured celebrity chef on his show “Molto Mario,” He cooked and discussed Italian cuisine each week for four hungry guests who were fortunate enough to eat what Chef Mario prepared. Sadly, the show is off the air now, but it was a launching pad for Mr. Batali’s work to remake New York City eating through the glorification of Italian cuisine. Since then Chef Mario and his signature orange Crocs have become even better known for the multiple, wonderful restaurants he operates with his partner Joe Bastianich. Mr. Batali also has written memorable cook books and opened successful Italian groceries. Now he has introduced a new and fresh way to cook Italian through a remarkable app called “Mario Batali Cooks!”
But first a word about the beauty and style of the Batali brand.
Perhaps the brand is best illustrated by his food emporium, Eataly, located in Manhattan. Partnering with Oscar Farinetti who opened a groundbreaking food and wine market in Turin, Italy, Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich of Batali-Bastianich (B&B) Hospitality Group have brought Italy to New York. Formerly a toy factory at 200 Fifth Avenue, Eataly is a 50,000 square foot marketplace that is an extraordinary grocery, Italian food supply store, and a fun and hip place to visit. You also can dine at tratorias without walls located throughout the store. It can be a dizzying experience, but it is always enjoyable.
Mario’s app is another elegant example of his prodigious creativity. The app, which is called “Mario Batali Cooks,” is an electronic book that guides you through his delicious Italian recipes... The app includes 62 videos, each two to five minutes long, in which Chef Mario personally shows you how to make an array of Italian dishes from the Northern, Central and Southern regions of Italy.
Each video is professionally produced but comfortably accessible and easy to navigate, a talent that is apparent in all of his ventures. You always feel as though you are part of the show, as you did on his former TV series. While the presentation and design of his app is sophisticated and appealing, it is neither pretentious nor fancy. Instead, it piques your taste buds and explains in simple terms how to create each dish. Best of all, the app is only $4.99 which is far less than the cost of a hard-copy cookbook.
In addition to the very appealing food videos, the app includes ways to save recipes for later use; a grocery list to remind you what to purchase for different recipes that you can save and email; and a brief history lesson of each region and recipe that gives you a sense of time and place. I enjoy Chef Mario’s personal approach to his presentations. You feel as though a friend is showing you his slides and videos of his recent trip to Palermo, Rome or Venice for example. Here’s one of my favorite Chef Mario’s recipes for chicken. There are also many vegetarian recipes and a timer to make your cooking even easier. Tutti, Mangia!
Pollo Aceto Funghi – Serves 6
(Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and Balsamic Vinegar)
Region: Emilia-Romagna, Italy
6 chicken thighs (white meat can be added if desired.)
1 ounce mushrooms—a mix of Shiitake and Crimini brushed clean and trimmed—quarter shitake first removing the stems; cut thin slices of the crimini
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon parsley
1 ½ tablespoons sweet butter
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Debone chicken thigh by scraping flesh off the bone with a knife. Score chicken in the
thickest part of thigh. Season chicken thighs with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. In a 14 inch skillet, heat olive oil until smoking. Place chicken skin-side down into hot pan. Cook chicken until skin is golden brown. Do this in batches if necessary, so as not to crowd the pan.
Prepare the mushrooms as described. When chicken is golden brown, drain some of the fat from the pan and discard. Add mushrooms to pan, cut side down. After about a minute, add tomato paste to pan. Move the thighs a little to make a space to carmelize the tomato paste. Turn thighs over in skillet so that the skin side is up. (If browned in batches, return all chicken pieces to the pan skin-side up).
Pour vinegar into pan and stir until smooth. Add butter and swirl. Bring sauce to a boil. Cook until sauce looks like a glaze, about a minute. Remove chicken from pan. Add parsley to sauce, stir and pour over chicken. Serve and enjoy.