Idea di pasta by Carlo Cracco, a tribute to Marchesi

The chef gives a new take on Raviolo aperto using risoni and scallops, sole and a pastry made with marinated egg yolk, a classic of his

by Mariella Caruso
Carlo Cracco at Identità di Pasta

Carlo Cracco at Identità di Pasta

The spirit of Gualtiero Marchesi lingers in the Sala Blu while Carlo Cracco, one of his favourite pupils, dedicates his lesson at Identità di Pasta to the Maestro. «It’s a trip back in time», says the Venetian chef, because «in a congress dedicated to the human factor, I believe a dedication to Gualtiero, who passed away recently and from whom I learnt most of the things I’ve expressed over time, is the best thing I could do». A declaration of love and respect which translates into the words he says while preparing a “new-take-tribute” of Marchesi’s famous Raviolo aperto, with risoni, scallops, sole, marinated egg yolk pastry and chervil.

«Marchesi didn’t like pasta – recalls Cracco. In 1977/1978, a post-crisis time, there were weird things that were popular: Marchesi served pasta made in a French style, with main courses and fried in butter. It was only after 1979 that he started to change his mind, using pasta no longer as a garnish, but as a main ingredient». Yet always in Marchesi’s style, of course. «In tasting menus, of the five rigatoni we were cooking in water, three were for the dish, two were spare. But then we’re speaking of Marchesi and he had his ideas to follow…».

For his homage to the Maestro, Carlo Cracco started from risoni. «This format of pasta represented his cuisine. I believe that since he was born in Pavia, surrounded by paddy fields, it reminded him of rice. However, though I asked him many times, he never replied». Then he transformed it into an open raviolo, which, born in 1982, later became one of the signature dishes of the most important chef in Italian history. Cracco cooks the risoni al dente, then pours grated fresh ginger mixed with a little white wine which becomes the base for his new take on “raviolo aperto”. On top of the risoni, he places a ragout made of lightly seared scallops and soles. It is covered with a pastry made with marinated egg yolk, a classic of Cracco’s that becomes a part of a classic by his Maestro, with chervil replacing Marchesi’s parsley.

During the lesson, on top of listing the ingredients used to marinate the egg yolks (salt, sugar, bean paste and seven hours), Cracco explained how his «pasta with marinated eggs» was born. «Every day we had some marinated egg yolk left over, and since I don’t like waste, we started to keep them – he recalls. – A few days later, we had 25 and we started making pastry».

Marinated egg yolk (and derivatives) also have a main role in the menu at his new restaurant, Cracco in Galleria, in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, «which we opened last Wednesday – he said at the beginning of his lesson. – Cellar, ground floor with an international coffee that serves everything from breakfast to a light after-theatre dinner; they still don’t have a dehors. On the first floor there’s the restaurant, on the second floor, a large room for events».

But there’s more. Carlo Cracco also works with Lapo Elkann at Garage Italia, again in Milan. «We’re a little unorthodox there, so we asked Riccardo Felicetti [of Monograno Felicetti, partner at Identità di Pasta] to make a special pasta in the shape of a silencer». He accepted the challenge, «this pasta will be shaped after silencers used on an Abarth from the Seventies», says the patron at Monograno Felicetti. In fact, they said no to his first attempt. «It sucked…», laughs Cracco, as he waits for attempt number 2.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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