Ajo e ojo? As long as it’s Monosilio-style

The chef of Pipero al Rex visits Identità di Pasta and renews the recipe (using fantastic rigatoni)

08-08-2015
Luciano Monosilio, chef at Pipero al Rex in Rome,

Luciano Monosilio, chef at Pipero al Rex in Rome, was the protagonist, a few hours ago, of Identità di Pasta, the weekly event organised at Identità Expo S.Pellegrino in collaboration with Pastificio Felicetti

«I want to be person who stays in the kitchen»: at seven Luciano Monosilio perhaps didn’t know the word for that was “cook” – and certainly he didn’t think about “chefs” – yet his mind was already clear. Now he’s almost 31 and about to graduate in Economics, he still hasn’t changed his mind. And being a cook is something he’s rather good at. He’s got «an incredible experience, even though he’s very young», says Cinzia Benzi, presenting Identità di Pasta, the Friday weekly event at Identità Expo S.Pellegrino.

The dish prepared by Monosilio, his personal version of the classic "aglio olio e peperoncino" with Rigatoni Felicetti monograno Khorasan

The dish prepared by Monosilio, his personal version of the classic "aglio olio e peperoncino" with Rigatoni Felicetti monograno Khorasan

Monosilio knows a lot about pasta, «it is part of our daily life. My brother and I were raised with fettuccine», he says. At restaurant Pipero al Rex, under the vigil eye of a king of maîtres such as Alessandro Pipero, he serves it in four different ways: his “own” famous Spaghetti alla carbonara are his signature dish.

At Identità Expo, however, he presents another recipe, classic “aglio olio e peperoncino” [garlic, oil and chilli pepper]. Spaghetti, as the tradition goes? No, rigatoni, and what rigatoni! Signed by Pastificio Felicetti, partner of Identità Expo in this weekly event. They are made with Khorasan mono-variety wheat, usually called kamut, «which is, however, a trade name – Riccardo Felicetti, who is also the president of the world’s pasta producers, tells the audience – This is an ancient variety with a long stem and roots that can reach 2 metres. It’s an organic product as it extracts all its nutrients from the ground, and it’s also full of aroma and flavour...».

Riccardo Felicetti on the microphone between Monosilio and Cinzia Benzi
Riccardo Felicetti on the microphone between Monosilio and Cinzia Benzi

Monosilio prefers this format because it has «a delicately bitter aroma, it recalls a vegetal parsley-like flavour», which is also an ingredient in this recipe, in at least three different shapes. The first, powdered: dehydrated, «as if it were matcha tea, of which it recalls the aroma». Then some stems are immersed in the cooking water for the pasta, to add some herbaceous and acid notes too. Finally, a little parsley is also fried.

Another essential component: powdered chilli pepper. It’s a blend made with powdered sweet red peppers and powdered hot chilli peppers; these are roasted, peeled, dehydrated and mixed in equal parts, and then smoked a little. The result: they totally recall the extraordinary pimenton de la Vera.

Monosilio also prepares a little cream with young pecorino romano. The same cheese is used to create an infusion: 1 litre of water, 200 grams of pecorino, 100 of grana padano and straight on the stove at 70°C; he then filters this and it becomes the liquid in which the rigatoni are cooked after they are partially cooked in normal, unsalted water. They are then moved to the pan with this infusion (500 grams per 700 grams of pasta) seasoned with a little hot chilli pepper: they are kept there a few minutes, gradually adding oil, in separate moments.

Only one element is still missing from the classic recipe: garlic. It’s in the shape of a cream: it is blanched 5 times, always draining it (make sure the garlic is young); it is then cooked and creamed in milk, adding 50 grams of cream every 300 grams of reduction, and finally adding 5 grams of gelatine sheet, salt and pepper.

The chef surprises the audience with the final addition: slices of guanciale produced by his friends at Re Norcino near Ascoli. Thin slices, with some powdered parsley on top, to season the pasta.