Italian restaurant group Big Mamma burst onto the London food scene earlier this year with the opening of Gloria, the 70’s Capri-style trattoria in the heart of Shoreditch. 

mcith_mama.jpgThis little corner of Italy hosted an explosive menu, mixing old Italian classics with ingredients sourced direct from small producers in Italy, plus a few fun twists from Head Chef Filippo La Gattuta.

Big Mamma Cucina Popolare: Contemporary Italian Recipes features 130 of the best recipes from the Big Mamma team.

We reviewed it here, but to whet your appetite we’ve selected some some of our favourites for you to try right away


Crispy Chicken Alla Parmigiana

Parmigiana-style chicken escalopes

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Resting time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Per 4 amici


250 g/9 oz mozzarella di bufala (or cow’s milk mozzarella cheese), thinly sliced

4 x 150-g/5-oz chicken breasts

4 whole eggs, beaten

400 g/14 oz (3 and 1/4 cups) plain (all purpose) flour, plus a little for the aubergine (eggplant)

400 g/14 oz (4 cups) dried breadcrumbs, or 5 cups panko or crushed cornflake crumbs

1 litre/34 fl oz (4 and 1/4 cups) sunflower oil

1 aubergine (eggplant) cut into 5-mm/1/4-inch thick slices

12 Tomato Confit (see page 70)

8 basil sprigs, to garnish

Salt and pepper

Come fare

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Place the mozzarella slices on a plate, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to draw out the liquid for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, open out the chicken breasts by cutting them lengthwise. Flatten them with a meat tenderizer. Put the beaten eggs in one dish, the flour in a second and the breadcrumbs in a third. Roll each chicken breast in the eggs, then the flour and finally the

breadcrumbs, coating them well.

In a deep fryer or large heavy-based pan, heat the oil to 160°C/ 325°F, or until small bubbles form on the surface. Working in batches, fry the chicken in the hot oil for about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Reserve the hot oil in the pan.

Roll the aubergine (eggplant) slices in the flour, then fry for about 3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with baking (parchment) paper and put the chicken escalopes (cutlets) onto it, spacing them apart. Add 1 or 2 slices of aubergine, 2 or 3 slices of mozzarella and 3 tomato confit halves on each escalope. Season with salt and pepper. Cook in the preheated

oven for 5 minutes.

Put the chicken escalopes onto plates, add the basil leaves and serve.

Cool to know

This convivial dish can also be made with pork, lamb or veal. Up to you!

Tomatoes For Confit

A tip from Virginia Baldeschi

Dairy-free, one-pot, vegan, vegetarian, 5 ingredients or less

Per 4 amici

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


300 g/10 and 1/2 oz (2 cups) datterini or cherry tomatoes

olive oil

fine salt

1 teaspoon icing (confectioners’) sugar

4 thyme sprigs

Virginia is our mamma. She has prepared practically every recipe in this book and is THE diva when it comes to tomato confit.

Come fare

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Wash and halve the tomatoes vertically. Place each half cut-side down in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and the sugar and add the thyme. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Cool to know

Tomato confit is fantastic. It can be used cold in a salad or as a topping for bruschetta. It can be heated and used to make quick and tasty tomato sauces to serve with fried or scrambled eggs, meats and much more. Don’t hesitate to make double or triple the amount. You’ll always find a way to use these magical tomatoes.


Fettuccine del Cacciatore

Fettuccine with duck and mushrooms


Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 55 minutes

Per 4 amici


For the ragù

1 celery stalk

1 small onion

1 small carrot

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 boneless duck legs

650 ml/23 fl oz (2 and 3/4 cups) hot chicken stock or Vegetable Stock (broth) (see page 200)

500 g/1 lb 2 oz dried fettuccine (or other long pasta)

200 g/7 oz honey mushrooms (or oyster mushrooms)

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 chopped marjoram leaves, to garnish

Salt and pepper

Come fare

Prepare the ragù. Peel and finely dice the vegetables.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (skillet). When the oil is hot, fry the duck legs for 10 minutes on each side over a high heat until golden brown.

Remove them from the pan, then add the vegetables and brown them over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. When the vegetables are golden brown, return the duck legs to the pan. Pour in 500 ml/17 fl oz (generous 2 cups) of the stock (broth) and reduce it over a low heat for about 20 minutes until the legs are tender. Pull the meat off the duck legs and shred.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water. When it is al dente, drain using a slotted spoon and add it to the pan with the duck and vegetables. Pour in the remaining stock, mantecare (mix) and continue cooking over a high heat for 2 minutes.

Cut the ends off the mushroom stalks (stems). In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the pasta to the plates, top with the mushrooms and garnish with some chopped marjoram leaves. And you’re done!

Cool to know

In Italy, we’re crazy about’alla cacciatore’ recipes. Every grandmother has her own version!

You can cook everything using this recipe: rabbit (but be careful where you buy it from as rabbits are prone to poor health and so are often stuffed with antibiotics), but also cuttlefish or octopus and, of course, chicken. Our favourite: chicken oyster alla cacciatore.

How To Make a Good Vegetable Stock

A tip from Michele Tufano

Dairy-free, gluten-free, one-pot, vegan, vegetarian, 5 ingredients or less

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Per 2 litri


2 celery stalks

2 carrots

2 brown (yellow) onions

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 litres/70 fl oz (8 and 1/2 cups) water

Salt and pepper

Come fare

Wash, peel and finely chop the celery, carrots and onions.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables and fry for about 10 minutes until lightly coloured.

Add the water and cook for 1 hour over a medium heat. Strain through a conical or fine-mesh sieve to collect only the broth. Season with salt and pepper.

To make a meat stock, just add any inedible parts of a cut of meat (such as the bone) when frying the vegetables.

Cool to know

This stock (broth) is a basic ingredient for many of the recipes in this book. This hot and tasty liquid is used to cook all kinds of meat, fish and pasta, among others. It’s also one of the best ways to avoid waste by using any leftover vegetables you may have in the refrigerator. Michele loves adding a pinch of ground cloves, a few star anise pods and 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds while frying the vegetables to give the stock more flavour.


Torta al Limone

Lemon cake


Per 1 dolce

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Chilling time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 55 minutes


For the cake

75 g/23/4 oz (51/2 tablespoons)

unsalted butter

9 egg yolks

250 g/9 oz (11/4 cups) caster

(superfine) sugar

120 g/4 oz (1/2 cup) crème fraîche

zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

180 g/61/2 oz (scant 11/2 cups) plain

(all-purpose) flour, sifted

11/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 lime

For the lemon icing

1 lemon

150 g/5 oz (11/4 cups) icing (confectioners’) sugar

Come fare

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2. Make the cake. In a pan, melt the butter over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the crème fraîche and lemon zest and stir to combine.

Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, then mix in the melted butter.

Line a 2-lb loaf tin (9 x 5-inch loaf pan) with baking (parchment) paper and pour in the batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes or when a cocktail stick (toothpick) inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the lemon icing. Mix the sugar with the lemon juice in a bowl.

When the cake has cooled, use a brush to cover the top with the icing. Allow the icing to drip down the sides of the cake. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 10 minutes until the icing slightly hardens and then decorate the top of the cake with the lemon and lime zest.

Cool to know

To give your lemon cake a twist, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds to the batter. A fun take on this (almost) timeless classic.