Posts made in November 2010

Turkey Chaos…A Metaphor For Life

Upsidedown Turkey

The Moment

Moist Chaos Turkey

While humans have had to deal with chaos since ancient times, only recently has science recognized it as a fundamental force in the universe.
Chaos theory, originally used to understand the movements that create thunderstorms, raging rivers, and hurricanes, is now being applied to everything from medicine to warfare to social dynamics; and now Turkeys!
My first true experience with Chaos in the kitchen reared its head at a party I was doing. After creating a huge pizza with a world of wonderful ingredients, I had forgotton to bring my pizza paddle. There was no way to lift this full size pie…thus what to do next?
After some careful thought, the only thing I could think of was to roll it up like a jelly roll. Because of it’s length, the only way to fit it in the oven was to bend it into a half moon shape. Onto the pizza stone it went and born was “Serendipity Pizza”… now one of BetsaPastas more successful menu items.
Getting back to the Turkey.
Although I do most of the daily cooking in the house, Sandy prepares the Holiday meals. Since the beginning, the Turkey gets prepared only one way along with her 6 generation stuffing, Bobo’s Sweet Potatoes and many other standards. Recipes not to be sabotaged! My contributions are preparing the vegetables and carving the turkey.
I guess it finally got to a point where Sandy trusted my ability to replicate her process and after a few quick tips on the procedure, I was left to dress the bird and put it in the oven.
Everything went smooooooth until…
Can you imagine the look on my face when I went to carve the turkey and the knife wouldn’t go in? I’m looking at the bird and said out loud to Sandy & Alison “what in the wide wide world o sports is a goin’ on here”?.
Sandy comes running over to the table, looks at me and the turkey and proceeds to start laughing hysterically.
“It’s Upside Down”! We were all laughing, but only because Sandy was hanging on to the chair for support bowled over in laughter. I thought dinner was ruined and Sandy (as I found out) was thinking boiled turkey…arrggghhh.
Alison is right there with the camera to bear witness to this disaster (see pix).
In hindsight, we are still laughing…but only because the turkey turned out better than it had ever been made in all the years before.
It could not have been more moist or tasty as the compliments tableside  attested.
The moral of the story is “Don’t mistake predictability for peace: Some of life’s most important moments are born of Chaos”
Don’t misunderstand me. This is among life’s lightest most important moments, however the same thought processes apply.
You’ve heard this before… “Go with the flow”.

Bert's Secret Thanksgiving Veggie Recipe

To tell you the truth, I buy these all year long, however they go beautifully with Thanksgiving and Holiday dinners with some toasted in sweet butter slivered almonds.
Simply steam these veggies for a few minutes (al dente) or a few more minutes if you prefer them soft.

Add sweet butter, kosher salt and fresh mill pepper (I prefer white vs. black for these veggies)…all to taste based on how many bags you prepare of these grown in France Haricot Vert.

Are you ready for the secret?

Trader Joes Fresh Frozen Haricot Vert (String Beans).
..and wait till you see the price!


Bert made it through the 1st Round of Gordon Ramsay's Master Chef competition

Hi Folks…
A couple of weeks ago in NYC, I made it through the 1st Round of the Master Chef Competition with the “Flank Steak Ragu” recipe seen on my blog.
I don’t know if I made it through the “personality” round as they needed to view the video submitted with the application.
Will keep you posted for this show which is supposed to air in March of 2011.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Remember to be thankful…and be kind to those less fortunate than you all year long.


ps . Bert’s veggie secret for Thanksgiving up next.

BetsaPasta Flank Steak Ragu Recipe (As seen in**)



Since I’m a little kid, I always liked braised meats. Brisket during the holidays &  pulled pork, or pulled anything for that matter, are among my favorites.
For many years, our friends Neil and Barbara would invite us over to sit with their family for dinner. Christmas was special with them, however it was on other occasions Neil would make his Beef Braciole with flank steak. The end result was always a wonderfully textured, tasty piece of steak, Oh yeah…the raisins he stuck in the braciole for the sweetness he liked suited me just fine.
Then it struck! A meat sauce with braised beef instead of chopped.
This is how Flank Steak Ragu evolved. We loved it so much that when Sandy saw there was a Gordon Ramsey Master Chef Competition coming to NYC, she insisted we enter the recipe in the contest. Success! I made it through the first round of the competition….the tasting.
The second round? Let’s just say you needed a certain type of personality to move forward.
The rest is history for the most requested dish in the BetsaPasta arsenal.

3  28 oz. cans Italian plum tomatoes (broken up by hand). Easy to secure in any supermarket are real DOP San Marzano tomatoes. Don’t be fooled by a brand called “San Marzano”. I’m not quite sure how they were able to get away with using the San Marzano name. If you are able to get into Restaurant Depot, seek out Alta Cucina brand plum tomatoes in the restaurant size #10 can from Stanislaus in California. This size can size holds a bit more than 3 28 oz cans. Wonderful and my favorite!
2.5 lbs. flank steak cut diagonally in approx. 1.5″ thick strips and lightly salted
2+ cups Chianti red wine or similar (that you would drink). Some traditional ragu recipes use a dry white wine. I use red for this recipe.
3+  cups veal or beef stock (I like 3 Tbsp of More Than Gourmet of “Demi Glace Gold”  added to 3 cups of water (Demi Glace can be bought in specialty stores)
2  medium onions…coarse chop…or 4-5 shallots coarse chop
3 large carrots…coarse chop
3-4 center cut stalks celery…coarse chop
2 Bay Leaves
6-7 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/8 lb. sweet butter (1/2 bar)
1/2 cup half and half
3-4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup+ Parmigiano Reggiano grated plus extra for serving
App. 10-12 turns from a pepper mill…white or black pepper (I like white)

*Sear lightly salted flank steak strips in 1 tbsp olive oil on medium high heat in stock pot until browned on all sides (this size pot prevents grease from spattering all over the place)
*Remove meat from pot and set aside…
*Immediately deglaze with onions & celery…cook for  a few  minutes until water from onions and celery have started to deglaze the bottom of the pot…add carrots…cook for a few more minutes stirring often
*Add wine to complete the deglazing process…cook for a few minutes
*Add rest of olive oil and stir, then tomatoes, then stock & bay leaves,then the rest of the  kosher salt
*Add steak and it’s juices, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low…cook for 3.5-4 hrs. (stirring at least once every 2o minutes) or until steak is broken down and soft… and the sauce has absorbed all liquids. If necessary, pick out larger chunks of steak… break apart with a knife & fork and place back in the pot
*Add butter, half and half and fresh pepper at this point. Stir, then add the 1 cup of grated Parmigiano,
Stir again and let sit for 30 minutes covered. Turn off heat

Coat prepared al dente pasta with sauce and approximately 1/3rd cup of reserved starched water from the cooked pasta and add just a bit more more sauce on top of each portion, or place on platter and serve family style
Goodness…Don’t forget to top with plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano!

This “ragu” is made with more tomatoes than most would use in a traditional ragu recipe and there is no garlic. The more traditional ragu recipes contain much less tomato
I would serve this with made in Italy I Sapore Del Vallo Egg Pasta…a pasta available at Fairway  or other specialty markets. If not available, any pasta you choose made in Italy works best.
IMPORTANT: Make sure to use a pasta that doesn’t say “Enriched Macaroni Product” as seen on packages of most commercial brands made in the USA and those made in Italy and ‘enriched’ for the American consumer. Reason: Too many vitamins. Too many other food products are enriched like this, thus the constant barrage of ribiflavin, folic acid, niacin, iron, vitamins B1 & B2 etc are overkill and not necessary.
There are wonderful Italian pastas such as Di Martino, Organic Mantova and a new Sicilian organic pasta by Biogaia discovered at the 2015 Fancy Food Show and organic IRIS pastas seen at the 2019 Fancy Food  Show in NYC that are made with semolina and water only…and those are the ones you should seek out. Any organic pasta is perfetto!

Bottom line…any pasta you like, but try for Italian made with semolina or whole wheat semolina and water only.

A mention of this recipe to Chef Lidia raised a brow at a recent wine tasting at Eataly, NYC…and it’s that good!

Mangia Baby!
Chef Bert

** “The newest and most complete source for recipes, cooking inspiration, and information about Parmigiano Reggiano (Registered Trademark) cheese, the only Parmesan”.

Nancy Radke, Director U.S. Information Office Consorzio Del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano


As usual, please comment below.
Mangia Bene,