So … if I told you that this month we’re making Baby Guts, how disgusted would you be on a scale of 1 to Marge? Don’t worry, it’s just the name that’s gross—the dish is totally delicious. But when you make it and serve it to your friends, you must refer to it as only Baby Guts. “Did you enjoy your Baby Guts? Would you like some more Baby Guts?” Bon appétit!
One hundred points if you already know what episode we’re dealing with here. It is considered to be one of the all-time best Simpsons episodes, and it is frequently quoted at my house. “Itchy and Scratchy Land,” the season 6 classic, has the Simpsons visit the newly opened theme park of the same name. Before leaving, Marge makes them promise that they won’t end up fighting or embarrassing themselves like they always do (i.e. Amish country), and they agree to have the best vacation ever or disband and join other families. After a long drive of Flickey’s billboards, a close call at the state border involving a trunk full of veggies, and a shortcut that they will never speak of again, the Simpsons arrive at Itchy and Scratchy Land.
The family takes a Jurassic Park-style helicopter ride to the park, where “nothing can possi-blye go wrong. Possibly go wrong. Huh. That’s the first thing that’s ever gone wrong.” Their first stop is lunch at “Tavern on the Scream,” and after ducking under a giant swinging axe, they sit down to order. Bart goes for the “Brain Burger with extra Pus,” and Homer orders Eyeball Stew. Mmm … eyeball stew. Marge is mortified by her family’s behavior in this nice restaurant until Bart shows her that all of the food has violent names. Playing along, Marge orders the Baby Guts, and the waiter replies “lady, you disgust me” before storming off. Turns out the baby guts are veal.
After lunch, they drop Maggie off in a giant ball pit and watch the Terminator-style robots on parade. Homer and Marge head to Parents’ Island for a dose of the 70s and to celebrate New Years. The kids explore on their own, and Bart spends some time in a gift shop looking for his namesake license plate. FYI, this is one of my favorite Simpsons jokes (“My son is also named Bort”). He also terrorizes every mascot he sees, and eventually Marge has to bail both Bart and Homer out of Itchy and Scratchy jail. Marge is bummed that their vacation has ended in disaster yet again when the robots start going berzerk. The Simpsons are left to fend for themselves against murderous bots when they figure out that flash photography scrambles their circuits (“hey robot, say cheese”). Working together, they defeat the evil robots and live to tell the tale. Marge even admits that it was the best vacation ever, but “let us never speak of it again.”
“With cool, dry wit like that, I could be an action hero.”
Time for Baby Guts! Let me hear you say it! BABY GUTS! BABY GUTS! Okay, I’ll stop saying Baby Guts for a little while so we can talk about real food without feeling very gross. All that we know from this episode is that it’s a veal dish and it has a nasty name. Judging by the atmosphere of the restaurant and what I think Marge would order, I went with a veal scallopini pasta dish. Plus, you get to inflict some violence in your kitchen, using a mallet or rolling pin to pound the veal cutlets nice and thin before pan-frying. Itchy would approve. Spaghetti, which mimics the guts (sorry!!!), is dressed with a simple white wine and garlic sauce and studded with burst cherry tomatoes. Don’t skip the fresh parsley, it really classes things up. It’s a quick and delicious meal that happens to have a name that makes people shudder. It’s a win-win, really.
Serve this with a nice glass of Evacuated Bladder (white wine) and put a few episodes of The Simpsons on in the background and enjoy.
Baby Guts (Veal Scallopini With Spaghetti and Cherry Tomatoes)
1 lb spaghetti
1 ½ lbs cherry tomatoes
Grapeseed or canola oil
1 lb veal cutlets, pounded thin (about ¼”)
½ cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
1 healthy pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
½ cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup diced fresh parsley
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, place the cherry tomatoes in greased pan with sides and spread out into a single layer. Broil for about 5 minutes, tossing once or twice, or until the tomatoes are burst but not burnt.
3. Again meanwhile, add a good glug of grapeseed or canola oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. While the pan heats up, add the flour and red pepper flakes to a shallow pan. Salt the cutlets and then dredge each one in the flour mixture, making sure to get completed covered, and tap off the excess.
4. Cook the cutlets, two at a time, for about 3 minutes, or until browned and almost cooked through. Turn and cook 2-3 minutes more. Repeat with remaining cutlets, scraping down the pan and adding oil as needed.
5. While your pasta drains, add the olive oil to the large pot and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, being careful to not let the garlic burn. Add the white wine and cook for a few minutes, or until the alcohol smell dissipates. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and cook a few minutes more.
6. Turn off the heat. Add the pasta back to the pot, followed by the lemon juice and zest, parmesan, and most of the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and toss well, adding a small amount of pasta water if needed to loosen up the mixture. Taste for seasoning.
7. Top with the tomatoes and cutlets and garnish with parsley. Serve your baby guts!