GCL Food Ingredients x FeedTim
GCL Food Ingredients Ltd is a business with history, and one founded on the back of necessity and graft. The very man who started the business in 1964, Giorgio Tudino, represents the thousands of immigrants who came to the UK over this period to begin a new life. With humble roots in the town of Accettura situated in the Basilicata province of Southern Italy, this is a company that I look at with great admiration. It's one that makes me reflect on my own family's journey from Cyprus around the same period.
But what I am going on about. A factory? Indeed. The HQ is a factory in Nottinghamshire that distributes predominantly Italian and Mediterranean produce to foodservice and industrial retailers and companies across the UK. Their list of clients is pretty impressive, including producing meatballs for Ask Italian & noodles for Wagamamas. But I didn't need any convincing to come and visit when I received the generous offer from MD Salvatore DeVivo.
Salvatore (or 'Sav') is a cool guy. He's incredibly passionate about his work and has been a core part of leading GCL through massive expansion over recent years. Despite its size, the business still retains a family feel with a number of Sav's children, nephews and something in laws working there. A 2nd generation Italian, Sav has not forgotten his roots and despite his momentous ambitions for the business, quality of the ingredient is paramount in everything he does. This faith that is so entrenched in the company's philosophy was evident from the espresso presented before me as soon as I arrived. It hit me that this is a little pocket of Italy on an industrial estate in the East Midlands.
The video summarises the experience nicely. I would however like to give a shout out to Sav, Pep, María and everyone else at GCL who made me feel part of the team for the day. What a fantastic experience it was and I had a lot of fun. I get excited walking down the international aisles of Tesco's, so being shown wines and D.O.P protected cheeses and cured meats hailing from Italy, France and Spain in every single physical form possible (be it whole, sliced or grated) was damn cool. What was even cooler was seeing the step by step process of the fresh Tagliatelle being made and learning how the guys there can adapt how the pasta is made to each customer's needs, from raw to partly cooked or completely cooked that simply needs 10 seconds to heat up before being served. This same flexibility applies to both fresh and filled pasta.
Something I learnt while at GCL was the 'Bronze Die' method of producing pasta in the factory. How it works is that manufacturers create the dough which is then pushed through a mold (or 'die') that works it into the desired familiar shapes such as penne, spaghetti, orecchiette etc. The Bronze Die method more closely resembles how pasta would be made at home, because it's less perfect. In contrast to the norm of using teflon or steel dies which produce a more smooth, shiny (and perfect) pasta, Sav proudly explained how Bronze Cut means that the dough is extruded at a lower, less stressful pace that maintains a coarser texture. The result is that sauces can cling on to it more effectively.
The factory has a daily schedule of production depending on demand. When I popped along this included their fresh Tagliatelle and home made Basilicata sausage (a sausage originating from the family's region of Italy), whose recipe is unchanged. María and I cooked a ragù to create a dish that championed these fine ingredients. Despite going against the traditional ragù mix of beef & pork, I look forward to you trying this recipe out for yourself. If you struggle to source Basilicata sausage, the spicy Italian alternative 'Nduja will also work. I do however challenge you to source some pasta that has just been made as we did (any respectable Nonna will do).
A thank you to you for reading and watching. Recipe below...
In the words of María - Tagliatelle all'uovo with Basilicata Sausage Ragù
Recipe measurements adapted to serve 4. Also note cooking times will vary depending on whether you're using fresh or dried pasta.
Before being hit by a wave of criticism, I am aware the traditional method of cooking an Italian ragù does not include tomato passata or chopped tomatoes, but stock and tomato paste. But as we're not using the traditional blend of pork & beef (or veal), this is a bit of a hybrid version anyway.
Onion - 1 large, finely chopped
Carrot - 1, finely diced
Celery - 1, finely diced
Garlic - 3 cloves, finely chopped or minced
Basilicata sausage meat - 500g (alternatively use a mix of high welfare pork mince and 'Nduja)
White Wine - 1/2 bottle (Chianti a nice option)
Chopped Tomatoes or Tomato Passata - 2 tins (800g)
Fresh Basil - roughly torn (plus extra to serve)
Paprika - 1 tsp
Salt & freshly ground Black pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Tagliatelle - 600g, fresh or dried
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino to serve
Prepare your sofrito (onion, carrot, celery, garlic) and add to the pan with a good glug of olive oil. Cook the Sofrito for approx. 10 mins on a medium heat until soft but not brown.
Sausage meat - add to the pan and brown (don't stir it too much as this will release a lot of its juices and make it boil rather than brown)
Wine - add to the pan once the meat has browned slightly and the sofrito has started to caramelise with the meat juices
Tomatoes - add and fill one of the empty cans with water and add to the pan
Basil, Paprika & seasoning - add and mix well
Cook on a simmer with the lid ajar for at least 45 minutes (anything above 2 hours will deliver the best results). Stir occasionally.
When ready to serve cook the tagliatelle in a pot of boiling, salted water 3 minutes before what the packet instructions say (it will still be too raw to eat). Add the pasta to the ragù with tongs, making sure to add some of the starchy cooking water, and add a small cup of extra water after. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, stir on the heat then clamp the lid on and leave to rest off the heat for a minutes before serving. (Don't worry if it looks a bit wet at this point, the cooked pasta will absorb the oil and cooking water as it rests).
Serve with some extra fresh basil and grated cheese.