Bruschetta (pron.: bruce-kAy-ttah, IPA: /brusˈketta/) is the typical Italian recipe a tourist will try to replicate at home with results ranging from questionable to disastrous, with a median of “let’s call for chinese”.
I know how you feel, guys. I have tried cooking a simple “spaghetti al pomodoro” myself when I was in Canada. Apart from the ghastly tag price for basic ingredients, the results were largely below the median, and my roommate demanded immediate satisfaction in the form of an inordinately large steak or, failing that, the proverbial pound of flesh. (Note to Italian deli importers: YOU DON’T PUT DA EFFING SUGAR IN DA EFFING TOMATO SAUCE, YOU BLANKETY BLANK BLANKING EFFHEAD, CAPEESH?!?)
Sorry, I got carried away. I’ll come to the point: do you remember the old realty saying “location, location location”? Well, Italian is about “ingredients, ingredients, ingredients”. If you change the ingredients, or their quality, the end result will be different and embarrassing, more often than not.
Bruschetta is especially risky to replicate exactly because of its extreme simplicity.
What’s easier to make than a slice of bread with some oil? It depends what you call bread and what you call oil.
Sandwich bread, for instance, is a big no-no. So is seed oil, whatever the seed. Sandwich bread will soak up way too much of anything, and the result will be some bland-tasting, oily gunk lurking from the plate. You’ll want the best, most tenacious bread and the tastiest olive oil and the ripest, most succulent tomatoes.
It’s an excellent appetizer, a gorgeous merenda (I grew up on this stuff)
Let’s get into the deatils.
Apron-to-dish: 20 minutes; SoHo time: 20 minutes.
Put a grill on the gas at full heat. It needs to be very hot.
What you’ll need (per person):
- two 1cm-thick slices of stone-oven cooked, hard wheat bread
- 2 cloves of garlic
- very ripe tomatoes; preferably plum ones, more juicy
- extra-virgin olive oil (I suggest a raggiola monocultivar)
- salt, black pepper
What you want is bread that is preferably a couple days old, with a slightly crunchy crust and exceptional tenacity.
Dice the tomatoes, and season with extra-virgin olive oil (the raggiola cultivar is one of my favourites, very tasty with a touch of hot finish) and oregano; adding chopped onion is a very popular variation.
Then peel the garlic and prepare all the other ingredients. Once the bread is ready, time is of the essence.
Slice the bread 1cm thick and put on a very, very hot grill for one minute. Turn the slices over and give it another minute.
Like this (the picture shows 4 half-slices):
High heat and short times will give you these nice almost-burned (but not charred) stripes and a crunchy texture on an otherwise soft slice. Longer times will only make the bread hard as a brick.
Once the bread is ready, grab a clove of garlic and rub it on the hot bread. I know, it’s hot. Now rub. My thumb rule is: one clove, one slice.
Then, put in a plate, add salt and sprinkle with oil. Dont’ hold the oil: the bread won’t soak it up. Top with the diced tomatoes and/or the anchovies, rush to the table and enjoy!
For kids, try a garlic-less variation, where instead of diced tomatoes you rub a very ripe tomato on the bread before oiling. Kids will love it and their shirts will, too.