Italian food is what I first learned to cook with confidence, accuracy, and competence. For one thing, it’s easy. Very easy. I read somewhere that Julia Child said she did not like to cook Italian food. Why not?
“Not enough cooking,” she said.
Which is why I like it.
Another reason is that it is deeply comforting.
Last night, using a recipe from Mario Batali’s first book, aptly named, Simple Italian Food, I made a very delicious dish of pork cutlets. He says, in the book, that this dish is from Perugia and that it is favored there by students and paid academics. No wonder: it’s deeply flavorful and very inexpensive. One trick, of course, is buying good pork. I got mine from Savenor’s, which, in the Boston area, is the only place where the meat is worth buying, from chickens to pork to beef, we’re talking restaurant quality.
Oh, the recipe: You dredge four cutlets in flour to which salt and pepper have been added. You heat four tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, you pan sear the cutlets for about three minutes on each side. You remove the cutlets. You lower the heat and add two tablespoons of capers, four anchovies, six sage leaves, and two sliced garlic cloves. Cook for two minutes. Add zest from two lemons and 1 and 1/2 cups of white wine. Reduce to half. Pour on cutlets. Adjust salt and pepper. Done.
We’re talking a cost of about $10 for two people and cooking time of about 12 minutes.
I’m hungry just thinking about it. Thank goodness, I doubled the recipe: Leftovers for lunch!
Photo of Perugia: