Friday, May 13, 2011

Carrabba's and the Art of Salting Food

I was invited to attend a Carrabba’s Italian Grill Tastemaker Event from my advertising network, Foodbuzz. We were treated to a cooking demo, great food, and a fun time learning more about Carrabba's!

Carrabba's Italian Grill was founded in Houston by Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola in December of 1986, who set out to create a restaurant experience where people felt like guests in their home. Carrabba’s is best known for its wood-burning grill, inspired by the cooking of the Sicilian region of Italy.  I never realized this, but they offer pizza dough brought out to the tables for kids to keep them entertained. My son would be all over that!

I've always heard that the biggest mistake home cooks make is to under-salt their food, and at this cooking demonstration, it was stressed again. Here's some tips about salting food that I picked up:

Salting Pasta:
The formula Carraba's follows is 1 gallon boiling water to 1 oz of kosher salt to 1 pound of pasta. (Make sure the water comes to a full rolling boil before adding the kosher salt.)

Being a home educated cook myself, I've heard that I need to salt the boiling pasta water, but I was throwing a large pinch of kosher salt in the pot. I actually measured my "large pinch" and it turns out I was only adding 1/2 teaspoon, whereas Carrabba's recommends 1 oz,  or almost 2 tablespoons. That is a big difference!

We were given pasta straight from the pasta water to try on its own, and I was surprised at how salty the pasta tasted without any sauce added.

Then we got to see them whip up a few of their pasta sauces and got to sample, those, too! Ahhhh pesto.

Salting Pizza
We were shown how they make their brick oven pizzas, which is actually one of the menu items that I have never tried before this demo. Let me tell you, I'll be a frequent pizza orderer from now on, and talk my pizza-loving husband into ordering it, too! Behind Jay is the brick oven that each resturant uses to cook its pizzas at 600 degrees.

One of the tips Jay offered was to season the whole pizza liberally with kosher salt, keeping your hand that is sprinkling the salt at least a foot away from the pizza. This allows the salt to land evenly over the whole pizza. Take a look at the amount of kosher salt that was sprinkled over the top of the Margherita pizza (excuse the almost completely devoured pizza crust photo - what can I say, their pizza IS that good!)

We also got to sample many of their seasonal dishes and Signature Pasta Meals like:

Peach Sangria

Pasto Rambo with Shrimp

Parmesan-crusted Chicken topped with Arugula salad (my favorite of the afternoon!)

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Limoncello Bread Pudding (oh my goodness was that good!)

A big thanks to Carrabba's and Foodbuzz for a fun afternoon!

Creatively Domestic

Simple Cooking | Easy Cooking

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