Cooking with Marcella Hazan


I plan to do a fair bit of cooking with “The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” from Marcella Hazan (see and I thought it might be interesting for some people to hear about my feedback of different tests.

How I came to it

I had just finished to make chef john’s “one pot chicken and sausage orzo” (see and I had two hot italian sausage left over.

I didn’t want to throw them away so I opened them, took their meat, cooked them with two caramelized onions and garlic, combined them with ricotta and a bit of parmesan and made ravioli with it. It was my first time making pasta (I had a pasta machine waiting to be used) and I used Micheal Ruhlman’s proportions from his book Ratio (see I cooked them and threw them in a pan with a brown butter and parmesan.

I really loved the result. Its was the best stuffing yet but I thought the ravioli dough was a bit too thick and chewy so I bought “00 flour” (its not that expensive, its just not that easy to find) and changed the proportions to 150grams of 00 flour, 50 grams of durum semolina and two eggs (Gennaro Contaldo’s pasta dough, see here I also rolled the pasta thinner. It gave a better result.

Enthused by my success, I tried Gennaro Contaldo’s ragu (see I didn’t like it. I found the use of meat cubes a bit strange (even if I cooked them down to “pulled pork” consistency) and preferred ground meat in my sauce. My best pasta sauce is still Chef John’s bolognese via Hazan (see

Thinking about that sauce, I bought Marcella Hazan’s cookbook. I immediately fell in love with the vibe of the book and the way she presented her recipes.

How I plan to go at it

I’m a single guy so a night of cooking can go a long way. I partition what I do in individual portions and freeze them when I can but I can get a few days worth of meals out of a single recipe. I won’t be able to go through Marcella Hazan’s recipe as fast as if I had a familly of six. I could invite people but I don’t want to limit my exploration of this book to special occasion.

Fortunately, I don’t mind repetition and don’t get bored easily (especially if the result is good).

I plan to pick my way at her books and do recipes as they come to me. Further on I might establish a ranking or a system to limit repetition but for now I’m just picking for the low hanging fruit.

Her typical recipes make food for 6 servings so I’ll cut and adjust when I can but I’m not worried of making too much food.

What I did up to this point

I literally just started cooking with her cookbook. Made her “Tomato sauce with onion and butter” yesterday (what I call her “simple stupid red sauce”) and I found it interesting but lacking a bit of dept. I guess I would prefer a sauce with a stronger soffritto base if I go with a meatless tomato sauce. I adapted the recipe a bit to fit the canned tomato format found at my supermarket (her recipe calls for 2 cups of tomatoes (473ml) and the can I had on hand had a hair more than three cups of tomatoes (796ml) so the proportions became:

  • 1 can of san marzano tomatoes
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • salt

It yielded roughly 2 cups of sauce. I used 1 cup with 100 grams of dry pasta with parmesan and froze the other cup for later use.

I plan to do her “meat broth” next, freeze a bunch of it and use it as a base to try some of her risottos.

Her recipe for meat broth is the following:

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 small potato
  • 1 fresh ripe tomato
  • 1 pound veal bones
  • 1 pound beef bones
  • 1.5 pound veal meat
  • 1.5 pound beef meat

I asked my butcher for recommendations for cheap cuts to use for broth. He gave me one really nice beef shank (about 750 grams for 11$) and two pieces of veal flanks for 8$ (about 550 grams for both). Overall bones and meat set me back 20$, which I believe is great value.

Not only I’ll have a lot of broth out of this but the process is going to render a lot of meat. I plan to eat some right away and cube and stew the rest in a variation of sauces (each one could be a meal): Salsa Rossa, Salsa Verde and Salsina di Barbaforte. I’ll cube the meats and mix beef with veal with the sauces (she has variants to use the boiled meats as leftovers). I’ll serve it over rice. I think roughly 200 grams of meat per meal should be ok.

Anyways! I’ll keep updating with new posts as I go through the recipes and hopefully it might be interesting for some of you!


I thought about it and there is a number of ways I could “enhance” Marcella Hazan’s broth:

  • I could roast the bones before using them
  • I could add a bottle of red wine instead of some of the liquid
  • Ruhlman is of opinion that broth should be kept under 180 degrees and never brings it to a first full boil like Hazan does. The reason is animal fats emulsify above 180, making the stock cloudy and potentially changing its optimal taste profile.
  • Ruhlman cooks his beef and veal stock for 10 hours while Hazan does for only 3. I understand Ruhlman might need more time because he doesn’t go above 180.
  • I could add fresh herbs, like rosemary or thyme or a bay leaf
  • I could add additional spices (thinking of whole black pepper here especially and maybe a clove or two)
  • I could add leeks for sweetness, fennel bulb for the subtle aniseed flavours. Or garlic
  • I could keep the onion peel to give the stock additional colour and body.

I am discussing this project with friends and family and its funny how everyone has that little “trick” to make their stock better. The best stock I make right now is vegetable stock using an adaptation of Ruhlman’s method. Its so good that I never thought of experimenting with chicken or veal or beef stock.

One thing to remember here is that I’m not looking for the “best” stock for that initial test. I’m looking to discover what Marcella Hazan thought would be the ideal italian broth in order to, maybe, bring some modifications later on stuff I like less.

I use ten pounds of bones , some carrot , garlic , celery , onion , dried porcini , bay leaf . I simmer very low for 60 hours .

Just came back from a large trek at Milano and Marché Jean-Talon. I love love love Milano and found some goodies (most of them are related to Hazan so it kinda fits the theme of this thread :P:

  • Bought a jar of italian nutella. I’ll have enough for 10 years but I’m curious to see if it is better or the same! Maybe I’ll try to make a nutella gelatto!

  • Bought a few brands of dried pasta I didn’t know. La Molisana spaghetti (see and Martelli Penne (see I’ve always been a sucker for artisanal presentations and the Martelli pasta packaging was too attractive for me to pass up. My usual brand of pasta is Delverde (see or Rustichetta d’Abrusso if I want something “fancier” (see:

  • Bought a bag of arborio rice from “Principato di lucedio” (see Yep, you guessed it, I liked the presentation. I usually go for the Gallo brand (see

  • They had a nice selection of san marzano canned tomatoes. Went for the pastene brand.

  • Found salted anchovies. I never went for anchovies because I’m not a great fan of fish to start with and I’m aware that it can be an acquired taste. I do, however, use a lot of asian fish sauce as my secret umami vehicle and understand romans used something similar in a sauce they called Garum. The concept of anchovies as a source of umami, however, makes complete sense. Maybe I’ll like them also? If I am to try anchovies, I’d rather go with what seems to be considered as the “best” variant: the salted ones. Had a bit of trouble finding salted anchovies (most seem to be kept in oil) but Milano had them in a can (around 17$ for a can of fair size) or in bulk (29.99 for a kilo). Got 100 grams.

  • I ran out of capers and found italian capers kept in salt. I’m used to french capers in vinegar so I’m looking forward to see the difference!

  • Got some freshly cut prosciutto for sandwiches. I was recommended the prociutto ducato at 34.95/kilo and went for it!

  • I didn’t find horseradish root but I found a lot of them at marché jean-talon (a fruit vendor called louis) so I’ll be able to make salsina di barbaforte!

  • Bought a Cannoli at the Pasticerria Alati-Caserta on dante, who apparently makes the best cannoli in Montreal (from what I’ve heard!)

  • Bought Cannoli molds at quincaillerie Dante. I was surprised to realise that there seemed to be more choice at Nino on Saint-Laurent in the plateau where cooking implements were concerned! I plan to make cannoli using Mario Batali’s recipe:

The broth will have to wait for tomorrow. I’m a bit tired from my adventures and do not feel like starting a cooking marathon. I think I’ll make some of my frozen ravioli or make spaghetti with the tomato sauce I prepared last time. I’ll keep you up to date!

60 hours is probably a bit much for me but it must be an epic broth! Love the addition of dried porcini!

Sounds glorious. Have you ever tried doing it in the oven? If you can go that long without your oven :slight_smile:

My Wedgewood needs a new thermostat at the moment for the oven . I just simmered it in a four gallon pot on the stovetop . I can turn that burner down to almost nothing to where it barely bubbles .

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Started the broth!

I have something like a 5 qt enameled cast iron pot. The next size over is huge. I don’t know how large it is but its a stockpot that says emphatically “I will never, ever again have space problems with my cooking apparatus”. To be honest, it described my frame of mind when I bought the thing.

The problem is that I have the feeling Hazan’s broth recipe was designed for a 8-9ish qt pot. I took the goliath stockpot and used that. Hazan mention that I need to leave 2 inches of water above the meat/bones/veggies. I eyeballed it. I’m a terrible eyeballer. I prefer my stuff in milliliters, liters, pounds, grams, cups…

At worst ill either add water to bring it back “à fleur” during the cooking time or cook it longer to evaporate if its a bit thin.

The meat!

There’s… lots of space!

That looks like two inches… right? Right? :stuck_out_tongue:

Sorry but what broth is this? Link?

It is marcella hazan’s “Basic Homemade Meat Broth” in her cookbook

I used:

1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
1 bell pepper
1 small potato
1 fresh ripe tomato
1 pound veal bones
1 pound beef bones
1.5 pound veal meat
1.5 pound beef meat

I would add more vegetables . I leave the skin on the onions , if I have the celery tops I add them also . Add more water . I would cook this overnight at least . You are making broth not stew . Cook the crap out of it . Skim the fat off the top simmering on low . Strain when finished .

I agree with all your points!

That’s how I make broth also but I want to try Hazan’s variation. Most of the broth I see are cooked at least 10 hours and have a lot more vegetable, if not a bottle of wine in place of water… but Hazan uses this amount of vegetables and has this to say on her broth:

“The broth used by Italian cooks for risotto, for soups, and for braising meat and vegetables is a liquid to which meat, bones, and vegetables have given their flavor, but it is not a strong, dense reduction of those flavors. It is not stock, as the term is used in French cooking. It is light bodied and soft spoken, helping the dishes of which it is a part to taste better without calling attention to itself.”

I don’t cook from Hazan’s book to get at my platonic version of broth. I don’t need her for that. What I’m looking for is to understand what flavor profile she gets from the process, cook risotto with it, take what I like and leave what I don’t.

I’ll be honest with you, I think I’ll revert to the “french method” when all is said and done but… for the moment the fun is trying to do it the italian way! :smiley:

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What’s the “french method”?

What I’m calling the “french method” is that impulse to extract the maximum amount of flavour, to add more vegetable, spices, herbs, maybe wine and simmer on low for hours on end.

For exemple, that is my standard vegetable stock:

Ingredients (makes approx 3 litres)
 1 pound onions, keep the skin
 1 pound leeks
 1 pound carrots
 ½ pound fennel (the bulb)
 ½ pound mushrooms (white or Portobello without the gills)
 4 tablespoon tomato paste
 24 cups water
 2 bunches of parsley
 2 bunches of thyme
 2 bay leaves
 Salt
 Whole spices (To taste I used star anise, mustard seed, allspice, coriander seeds, 1 cinnamon stick, whole pepper, cloves)
 Stockpot
 Cheese Cloth
 Strainer
 Wooden spoon or potato masher

 Chop all the vegetables roughly and put them in the stockpot
 Cover with water
 Put your herbs and spices in
 Bring the water to 180F (less important in case of vegetables because there is no animal fat to emulsify)
 Simmer for 1 to 2 hours (2 is better for me)
 Strain the result and press on the vegetables to get all the flavor out
 Salt to taste (it will need a lot of salt)

For beef or veal stock I’d simmer at least 10 hours and maybe add a bottle of wine.

It creates something a dense and flavourful broth that I identify as “good”. It is not, however “light bodied and soft spoken”. I’m french canadian and I felt, well, very french reading her comment on the ideal italian broth! :smiley:

Almost finished the broth and made the first of the three sauces I had in mind, her “Piquant green sauce”.

The sauce is pretty simple to make. Put the following ingredients in the food processor and spin to win:

2/3 cup parsley leaves
21/2 teaspoon capers
1/2 teaspoon strong mustard
1/2 teaspoon red vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

I bought salt packed sardinian capers for the occasion. First time I used these because I usually get the french lelarge in vinegar. They are pretty simple to use: just put them in water for 20 minutes, put them in a strainer and wash under the faucet. They taste brighter than those kept in vinegar, less astringent and less salty. I think I like them better.

Used dijon mustard, red sherry vinegar and my most vegetal olive oil (the O-Live). Processed it until it was “uniform” but kept it pretty coarse. It just felt right.

I didn’t need to adjust the seasoning, the balance felt right. I like the sauce very much but I think it fits white meat and fish better than red meat. It is not piquant at all… its actually pretty delicate.

It doesn’t render a lot. I don’t know what I had in mind when I got my food processor out. Next time I’ll try my immersion blender accessory.


Here is the broth as it came out of the fridge. There was a lot less rendered fat that I expected. I guess its normal since I’ve simmered the broth only 3 hours vs 10-12 hours normally. Its a bit opaque since I’ve started the broth at a full boil before reducing it to a simmer (Ruhlman does not take it above 180F) but I don’t mind since I’m not after a consommé and rustic is fun too!

Here it is degreased, seasoned and stored. Its going directly to the freezer. Eat pot is 2 cups so that makes roughly 19 cups of broth.

It cost me approx 30$ if I am conservative. The meat and bones cost me between 20-25$ and I need 6 vegetables at 5$ for the lot if I decide to pay a lot for some reason.

19 cups is 4495ml. That makes 0.67$/100ml but you bought the bones, meat and vegetables yourself and controlled the cooking process so chances are the broth will be much better than the ones bought in the supermarket right!

If I look online at my local supermarket the Knorr brand beef broth is roughly 0.29$/100ml so I guess my housemade version is about twice as expensive. Its also much longer to process. You do make a lot at the same time however and I do feel its worth it.

The resulting broth is less intense that the ones I’m used to (I don’t have a ton of experience with veal broth but the beef broth I know are much more savoury). I think I prefer the more intense “onion soup style” beef broth but this one has its charms and, as Hazan says, “It is light bodied and soft spoken, helping the dishes of which it is a part to taste better without calling attention to itself.”

I already made the salsa verde, now it is time to prep the boiled meat that resulted in the broth making.

I am using her instructions guiding the use of leftovers from a recipe called “Bollito Misto” (in which she boils different cuts of meat).

The broth gave me about 470 grams of mixed boiled beef and veal. It doesn’t look very appetizing and trust me its rock hard since its just coming out of the fridge. It will make, say, two portions of meat at 235 grams each.

That below is 2 portions of meat at 235 grams each with what is supposed to be “between 4 to 6 portions” of Salsa Verde. Clearly Hazan is not a fan of sauce. I am however so I’ll use all my salsa verde for one the the portions.

Final result. The meat needs to marinate with the sauce for 3 hours. I will make “salsa rosa” or “salsina di barbaforte” tonight for the other portion (I already have the ingredients as I thought I’d have 3 portions of meat). I’ll eat it with rice.

Just a small update on the boiled meats with salsa verde.

Made it with a bit of rice. It gave a great result! Its almost worth destroying a perfectly good cut of meat by boiling it to get to that dish! The shortened boiling period did not render all the fat on the meats and the marinating period gave time for the oil to carry the flavour in all the nook and crannies of the beef. The result is that the delicate flavour of the sauce permeated the meat and combined with the unrendered fat to carry the flavour.

The rice was a bit perfumed (made it with a clove, a cardammon pod, aniseed, salt, pepper and fluffed it with a bit of butter) but the sauce carried its essence in it and it was great!

Tried Penne, tomato sauce with vegetables and olive oil.

The concept is pretty simple: you start with a hot cooking pot, you add a can of san marzano tomatoes (mine was 796ml-ish so I had to adjust the quantities) and 1 cup of diced onion, diced carrots and diced celery, raw. You bring to a simmer and you let simmer 30 mins.

You then add 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil and you “fry” the tomato sauce 15 mins. You season to your preference and you serve with spaghetti or penne with parmesan.

The frying process really concentrated the tomato flavor and it made for a very pleasant sauce. It also felt very healthy because it was packed with vegetables and my rough dice made sure they were cooked but still were a bit crunchy in the middle. Next time I’ll try with a much finer dice to see the difference but the experience was a pleasant one.

I’ll do this one again!

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Everything looks great Captain . Nice job .