A nice pasta named after a great Italian opera tenor!
I was told by a New York Italian chef that this recipe was well liked by the great tenor Enrico Caruso. That may be so. Most food historians agree that not every piece of food history was written down on paper.
I learned this entree from some very strict Italian chefs during my first year of apprenticeship. This pasta was on the menu, but it was not a big seller. Sometimes it is good to place a slow moving item on a menu, especially when the entree only appeals to a certain small group of customers. I noticed that the same customers returned to the restaurant time and time again just to order this Spaghetti Caruso entree. There was no other place in town that offered a similar pasta, much less an entree that featured chicken livers.
Many modern chefs make the mistake of cooking to their own tastes and writing menus out of fear. Many cowardly chefs fear that classic fine dining items like veal, chicken livers or sweetbreads will turn people off and turn people away. I have found the opposite to be true. Traditionalists like classic cuisine items.
With so many chefs choosing to omit chicken liver or veal on their menus, that leaves room for classically trained chefs like me to offer those items and rake in the profits! If you are a chef that is very anal about writing a menu that only appeals to yourself and the middle of the road crowd, then by all means continue to do so, because that is doing French and Italian fine classic cuisine chefs a big favor! Besides, middle of the road menus do have a way of becoming stale and burnt out.
Capturing a small clientele with a nice little menu item like Spaghetti Caruso is very important for word of mouth advertising. Those same few satisfied customers will in all likelihood will recommend the restaurant to friends seeking a good place for dinner.
"Good word of mouth travels slow in the restaurant business. Bad word of mouth travels thirty fold!" That is an age old restaurant expression that only experienced restaurateurs fully understand.
Bad word of mouth can be started by a customer saying "The food was just okay at an Italian or French restaurant, but the meat selection on the menu was very limited. They did not even have veal on the menu. How could that place call itself a French or Italian restaurant!" A listener may envision that the restaurant is not serving authentic cuisine and a negative impression is created. Part of the Michelin rating system is a requirement for a minimum variety of meats on a menu. You cannot earn a star without the minimum requirement!
By offering chicken liver entrees or pate, you will hear middle of the road customers say the regular comments about how they do not like yucky chicken livers, but that is a statement of personal preference that is easily overlooked by connoisseurs. Just by mentioning chicken livers in a distasteful personal way is good advertising for those who like and seek good chicken liver creations!
Most chicken liver fans react to negative chicken liver statements by saying "What doe he know? He does not even like chicken livers, so why is he talking about them?" Ha ha ha! Now a chicken liver fan has heard of a fine restaurant that has them on the menu and in all likelihood he will call to make a reservation! That is one of the benefits of offering menu items that appeal to the few.
Spaghetti Caruso Recipe:
Boil 1 portion of spaghetti pasta, till it becomes al dente.
The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks!
Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
Add 1 splash of blended olive oil.
Add 6 to 8 ounces of cleaned trimmed chicken livers.
Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Saute the livers, till brown highlights appear.
Use a carving fork and a knife to slice the chicken livers into bite size pieces, while they are still cooking in the pan, so no flavor is wasted! (A saute chef from Venice Italy that I apprenticed with was very keen on this style of sauteing the chicken livers!)
Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic.
Add 1 small handful of julienne sliced onion.
Add 2 to 3 pinches of oregano.
Saute till onions turn clear in color.
Add 1 1/3 cups of rich chicken broth.
By now the pasta should be cooked al dente!
Drain the water off of the pasta.
Allow the pasta to to stand for 45 seconds, so the heat of the pasta causes the pasta to "starch".
Note: Allowing a pasta to starch is not an Italian cooking technique that you see everyday! This Spaghetti Caruso recipe is one of the only Italian pasta recipes that requires the pasta to be starched. Starching allows pasta to absorb the broth sauce flavor.
Add the starched portion of spaghetti to the broth sauce in the pan.
Mix 2 tablespoon of flour with 2 ounces of water to form a slurry.
Use a wooden spoon to clear the ingredients away from the center of the saute pan, so the broth sauce is exposed.
Use a small whisk to stir the exposed broth in the middle of the pan, while adding little bit of flour and water slurry at a time to the broth sauce, till the sauce thickens to a thin sauce consistency.
Note: Do not over thicken the sauce! A flour slurry is another rarely used technique in Italian cooking. Venetian chefs use many techniques that are not shared by other regions of Italy. Flour slurry is required for an authentic Spaghetti Caruso. Do not add too much flour slurry or the sauce will taste pasty and too thick.
Gently shake the pan while stirring the ingredients together with a wooden spoon.
Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
Allow the sauce to simmer gently for 1 to 2 minutes, till the pale flour slurry color turns into a shiny semi translucent thin gravy sauce color.
Toss the ingredients together just before serving.
Place the Spaghetti Caruso on a plate and try to expose some of the chicken liver pieces.
Sprinkle a little bit of chopped fresh curly leaf parsley over the pasta. (Yet another rarity in Italian cooking. The Venetian saute chef insisted on milder tasting curly leaf parsley!)
If you have noticed, there is only enough sauce in my pasta entrees to flavor the pasta. That is how most Italian pastas are traditionally sauced. Sauce is not soup that is eaten with a spoon! A good sauce, even in Italian delicato cuisine, has what it takes to give a pasta flavor.
Chicken livers, garlic, onions and oregano are a classic Italian flavor combination. This simple sounding Spaghetti Caruso pasta is one of my favorites, because it requires some rare demanding Italian cooking techniques.
The Italian chef that taught me this recipe claimed that the great opera tenor Enrico Caruso had stated that this Italian chicken liver pasta entree added resonance to his voice. Give this great Italian recipe a try and see if what the tenor said is true! La la la la lahhh! Ciao Baby! ... Shawna