My Family Recipe Rocks Episodes

Cooking from Scratch with Chef Joe Gatto

At a time when we all seem so busy, there is a growing trend to slow down and get back to the basics in the kitchen. Joey Fatone visits Chef Joe Gatto to see how easy it is to embrace the extra care of cooking from scratch.
How much do you know about the meal you just ate? Do you know where the tomato in that salad was grown? Who made that pasta?

Joe Gatto knows about everything that goes into the meals he prepares. From the bacon he cures and smokes himself to the vegetables he gets from local farms.

"I just became obsessed with the whole process of knowing where everything comes from, where it's grown and how it's raised," said Joe.

Joe grew up cooking with his mom but it wasn't until just five years ago he decide to make it his full time job. Since then he's been on a mission to learn as much as he can about food and cooking.

"Now it's the only way I can do things, there's no other way. It's just become my lifestyle," said Joe.

So normally Joey meets his guests at their homes but Joe asked him to meet him at Shaw's Dairy Farm in Dracut, Massachusetts.

"What are we doing here?" Joey asks.

"We're going to make everything today from scratch. So we're going to need to milk some cows to get started. Are you ready for that," said Joe.

Joe walks Joey to the barn and introduces him to Warren Shaw who gets Joey started milking a cow. It takes a little work but Joey does well and gets some milk. Now it's time for Joey and Joe to hit the kitchen and start cooking from scratch.

They are making caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and pasta carbonara featuring homemade fettuccini and bacon.

Joe starts by making the pasta dough. He likes to make his pasta in a food processor. He puts in two cups of flour and three eggs then turns it on.

"Now what we're looking for is it's going to become sandy and start pulling itself from the bowl. If it doesn't we're going to add a little bit of water in small increments," said Joe.

Joe adds the water and the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the food processor and form a ball. Next, Joe kneads the dough on a lightly floured counter. After a few minutes, Joe pokes the dough to see if it springs back. Once it springs back when he pokes it, he puts the dough in the fridge. It needs to sit for about 30 minutes before they can run it through the pasta machine.

That gives them time to start on the fresh mozzarella cheese. They start with curd. Joe explains you can find curd at farms and farmers markets. They cut the curd into cubes and place them in a bowl.

"You want them to be pretty much uniform because they need to cook at the same rate," said Joe.

Now it's time to add hot salted water.

"Back in the day when they would make the mozz they would pull barrels out of the ocean so its really salty and that's what you want cause its going to flavor (the cheese)," said Joe.

Joe adds the hot water to the bowl of cut curd by pouring it around the sides until it just covers the curd.

The water is hot and they want it to stay that way to melt the curd. So when it starts to cool, they drain the water and pour in new hot water. As the curd starts to melt they fold it together.

And they keep folding and keep replacing the cooled water with hot. Time consuming? Yes. Hard? No. And totally worth it.

Joey samples a piece and replies, "Doesn't getter better than that."

Joe then squeezes off chunks of the cheese and forms it into balls that he places in a bowl of ice water.

The mozzarella should chill in the ice water for at least 10 to 15 minutes. This helps the cheese firm up for slicing.

While the mozzarella chills, Joey and Joe start turning their pasta dough into fettuccini. Joe first divides the dough into four pieces. He flattens out a piece of the dough and runs it through the pasta machine on the thickest setting. He continues to run the dough through the machine on thinner and thinner settings.

Joe then gives the flattened dough a dusting of flour before he runs it through the machine again with attachment to cut it into strips of fettuccini.

Joey takes a turn cranking out some fettuccini and then they spread the pasta out on the counter to dry -- being careful not to pile any of the pieces on top of each other.

While the pasta dries, Joe brings out the slab of his homemade bacon.

To make this bacon, Joe first cured the pork belly in espresso, chipotles and maple syrup for seven days in the fridge. He then smokes it for three to three and a half hours.

Since this is going into the carbonara, they cut the bacon in thick slices then chop into little chunks.

Joe's bacon is so good it's money -- literally he uses it like currency.

"I do it in 10 pounds batches. I give it out if I owe somebody money or something," said Joe.

To cook this precious bacon, Joe takes it slow and low. The low heat allows the fat to slowly render out, adding to the flavor.

Before moving on, Joey samples the homemade bacon.

"Let the flavor wash all over you," instructs Joe.

"Oh my gosh that's awesome" says Joey. "This is really good."

"This is going to make our carbonara unbelievable," adds Joe.

Before making the carbonara, Joey and Joe return to their fresh mozzarella to make a caprese salad. Joe slices up some fresh tomatoes and the mozzarella while Joey handles slicing up the fresh basil.

To build out the caprese salad, Joe first puts down the tomatoes that have been seasoned with salt and pepper. Next the slices of fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of fresh basil and prosciutto. Then a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and finally a little balsamic vinegar.

They put the salad aside and start making the pasta carbonara.

The fresh pasta cooks in just a few minutes in boiling water. Then Joe puts the pasta in the pan where he cooked the bacon. He adds the cream from the dairy farm, parmesan cheese and egg yolks to make the sauce. Next the bacon goes back in the pan and finally after putting it on the plate, he adds a sprinkle of fresh basil and some pepper.

Now time to see if really cooking from scratch makes a difference.

First the guys sample the caprese salad.

"Oh yeah! What's great about that is we made that," said Joey. "We did, all from scratch," adds Joe.

Joey continues, "You can buy (the cheese) at a store but we made it from curds."

"And you can taste it, you can taste the love in that," said Joe.

Now onto the main dish, the pasta carbonara.

"This is what I'm really looking forward to," said Joey.

Joey takes a taste being sure to get some of the homemade bacon on his fork. The dish is so good, they have to share with the My Family Recipe Rocks crew for a taste test.

"Dude this is really a homerun. Thank you so much. Out of this world," said Joey.

After the guys hard work cooking from scratch, Joe's friend Todd makes them a homemade cocktail he calls the Fuzzy Morning.

Todd puts ruby red vodka, peach schnapps, a splash of sour mix and cranberry juice into a cocktail shaker. He serves up the drink in martini glasses.

It was the perfect way to end their delicious meal!

Segment 1
Pasta Dough
Pasta Dough
A quick and easy recipe for making your own pasta.
See Recipe
Segment 2
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
An easy to follow recipe for making your own delicious homemade mozzarella cheese.
See Recipe
Segment 3
Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad
A delicious, easy-to-make salad featuring mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil and prosciutto.
See Recipe
Segment 4
Fettuccini Carbonara
Fettuccini Carbonara
A traditional Italian dish, featuring homemade pasta and bacon.
See Recipe
Segment 5
Fuzzy Morning Cocktail
Fuzzy Morning Cocktail
A tasty cocktail that could lead to a fuzzy morning if you have a few too many!
See Recipe

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