Al forno, in the Italian culinary world, refers to those dishes that have been baked in the oven. In Italian translation, the culinary expression, Al Forno means from/at the oven. In this form of cooking method, the food is prepared using the requisite cooking methods, placed in a special oven dish and then baked in the oven for a considerable time. This baking technique, al forno, is commonly used in the Italian cuisines for making al forno recipes like baked pizza, pasta, lasagna and breads.
Origin of al forno recipes
The al forno style of cooking has been traditionally a specialty of the North Italian cuisine. As per historians, the method of baking food in open grills and wood burning ovens was used centuries ago to cook al forno recipes of the-then period. In fact, the glimpses of this tradition are observed in many modern Italian restaurants specializing in al forno or furnace based cooking. Wood-fired and baked pizza is one of the most popular al forno style delicacies served by many restaurants. However, more commonly, today, the wood or brick based furnaces have been replaced by the conventional oven, especially, casserole ziti al forno to prepare baked dishes. This unique style of cooking soon gained global recognition and thus traversed to Mediterranean part of the world. Even today, the symbol of brick and wooden furnace are associated with the Italian al forno in the culinary world.
The al forno method of cooking
This Italian baking style, al forno, has been associated with some of the most delectable al forno recipes. However, before experimenting with this style, al forno, one needs to understand its right usage. Here are some of the most basic steps involved in this Italian culinary method. 1. Always preheat the oven for a period of 30 minutes, in around 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. Until the oven is ready for use, prepare the dish, using all the forms of cooking and leave the baking for the end. 3. Taking the example of a popular dish prepared by al forno, rigatoni pasta. Till the oven gets adequately preheated, boil the rigatoni pasta, prepare its sauce using olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, red pepper and salt. 4. Once the sauce is prepared, add it over the pasta and sprinkle considerable quantity of parmesan cheese. 5. To prepare the pasta for baking, initially put only half the portion of the pasta in the baking dish. 6. Add a layer of mozzarella and then the remaining pasta. 7. Cover the dish with a foil tin. 8. Bake the dish for a considerable period of time, until the dish turns golden-brown. It is important to note that the initial cooking procedure of the dish may vary from one recipe to another. However, the essential baking instructions for most of the al forno recipes are same.
Popular al forno recipes
The term al forno has been adopted for a popular Italian pasta delicacy prepared with mattersons sausages, mozzarella, cheddar and chorizo. One of the most famous pasta dishes typically cooked in the style of al forno is lasagna. Variations in the lasagna dishes using the bake method are enjoyed throughout the region, one of the most savored being, lasagna alla Bolognese, meat lasagna, lasagna with ricotta cheese, lasagna with spinach, chicken lasagna, egg plant lasagna and more. Popular pasta dishes essentially cooked by the cooking technique of al forno are pasta al forno bianco, pasta al forno, pasta with ricotta cheese chicken filled pasta, Mediterranean pasta and more. Besides these, some other popular al forno recipes include Branzino al forno, bruschetta, pasta con seppioline gratinata al forno, chicken al forno, trattoria al forno et al.
Advantages and disadvantages of al forno
It is noticeable that often other forms of cooking like sautéing, frying, do not efficiently cook all the layers of dishes, especially, lasagna. To achieve this, experts have stated Al forno as the most effective methods of completely cooking layered dishes, without compromising on their taste. Further the method of al forno, negates the need for using additional oil at the time of baking. This eases the means of preparing light al forno recipes, especially for people with high cholesterol and blood pressure. However, at times, the chances of over-baking may completely devoid the al forno recipes from their moisture content. This may affect the desired taste of the food by making it over-crispy.
Trivia on al forno recipes
Besides the golden brown appeal of the dish, as per the food experts, in the typical al forno, the measurement of the internal temperature of the oven is also a strong indication of the complete preparation of the food. All the layers of the al forno recipes can be regarded completely cooked when the temperature reaches 130 degrees Celsius. This can be done by inserting a thermometer through halfway of the dish.