CSI in the Kitchen

Satisfy Your Longing for Mama's Cooking

Have you ever craved a dish your Mama made for you? Did you eat a dish in a restaurant that you just had to make yourself? Can’t get the recipe?

I read an interesting article last week about everyday kitchen detectives re-creating lost family dishes so I thought I’d share one of my quests to bring a dish back to life in my kitchen.

I had a fantastic pasta with a baby back rib sauce at Vicoletto’s street stall during last year’s Noodle Fest. I couldn’t coax the recipe out of the owner. The memory of this dish haunted me so I had to figure out how to make it myself.

My food memory and the dish’s profile were intact. The ribs were fall-off-the bone tender. The San Marzano tomato-basil sauce was sweet and rich. The Calabrian chile oil drizzled on top heated up my throat with every swallow.

First, I made a list of ingredients.

Second, I searched my cookbooks and the web to see if I could find any recipes. I learned a lot and refined my recipe.

Third, I planned out how I would make the sauce. The ribs had to be browned before adding the tomatoes, garlic and basil to the pot. The ribs have to braise for at least an hour to be fork tender. The dish has to be finished with the oil from a jar of Calabrian chiles.

I nailed this one on the first try. You can too with the recipe I created from this food memory.

Read more about kitchen detectives in a recent Wall Street Journal article on how others have resurrected a favorite lost dish.

By the way Moma’s is a great breakfast/lunch place on Washington Square. There’s always a line to get in.