Spice things up at home this Valentine's Day and whip up an easy, chef-approved dish for dinner that will be the key to any food lover's heart.
New York City-based chefs and restaurateurs Matthew Hyland and Simone Tong shared a favorite meal from their own kitchen with "Good Morning America" that home cooks can pull off and enjoy on Feb. 14 and beyond. Plus, they revealed their favorite dish on the others' menu, the fun that comes with cooking with a partner and how they spent their first Valentine's Day with a special surprise.
The Pizza Loves Emily co-founder said both he and Tong, the executive chef and owner of Silver Apricot, love noodles. So the couple -- who are also new parents -- offered a recipe that combines both of their culinary perspectives on a plate.
"We like to make our Amatriciana with ingredients that represent our style," Hyland told "GMA."
Their riff on the classic Italian sauce adds a unique and deep flavor with the addition of ingredients like Chinese bacon, scallions and Sriracha.
Check out the full recipe below and read more about the dynamic duo's relationship and advice for spending time together in the kitchen.
500 grams bucatini pasta
100 grams chopped guanciale
100 grams Chinese bacon
1/2 red onion sliced
1 scallion, green sliced thin, whites sliced and set aside
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 can of cherry tomatoes
Lots of freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Small butter cube
Salt and black pepper
Over low heat add the guanciale and Chinese bacon into a skillet until fat has rendered out and becomes browned.
Add the onion and scallion whites and slow cook until translucent.
Add the tomatoes, stirring to combine.
Add black pepper and Sriracha
Boil buccatini pasta in salted water until al dente.
Reserve a cup of pasta water before straining the cooked pasta.
Over medium heat add pasta to the sauce and toss with some of the pasta water, olive oil, butter, and a handful of Pecorino. Continue to combine until glossy.
Plate and add some more Pecorino, a drizzle of olive oil, and the scallion greens on top!
For anyone looking for another option to taste Hyland's or Tong's cooking, check out local delivery options here from Pizza Loves Emily or order nationwide on Goldbelly. And for guests in New York City, check out Silver Apricot's four-course tasting menu with more info available on the restaurant's Instagram.
Getting to know the culinary couple
The pair who started out as friends began dating in 2019 and a week before their "first Valentine's Day" in 2020 they "found out we had a surprise on the way." Since both chefs were working last year, Tong said "Matt got home slightly earlier and cooked one of my favorite dishes, Szechuan Hot Pot" to celebrate.
What's your favorite dish on the other's menu?
"I love the scallion puffs with scallion butter and the skirt steak," Hyland said of the popular menu items at her New-American-Chinese spot. "It comes with a relish and pickles that tastes like a Chinese chimichurri."
"Matt factually makes the best burgers in the world," Tong said of his famed mid-rare Pat LaFrieda dry aged beef patty with signature sauce, caramelized onions, Grafton cheddar, on a pretzel bun with cornichon and fries. "Extra sauce on the side to dip my fries."
What’s one cliché Valentine’s food to skip and one to indulge?
"Skip the fruit and cream plate. They are not in season in February," the couple concurred. "But go for the caviar and chocolate to celebrate!"
How can cooking help bring couples closer, especially after this tough year?
"It’s a real bonding experience because it is both deeply personal and teamwork," they said. "Each person has a job to do and then there is the compromise of the dreaded dishes."
How would you describe your cooking styles?
"Simone cooks very refined food that is precise, delicate, and elegant," Hyland said. "I cook much more rustic food over the fire with bigger bolder flavors." When cooking together at home, he said "Simone usually prepares the fish, small game birds, dumplings and veggies. I usually cook the longer prep meals like Mole, curries, steak, braises, and duck with rich sauces. I always cook the pasta too." And for dessert, he added, "Simone makes the best chocolate chip cookies ever."
How can customers show restaurants love this weekend?
"Call in take out orders. Indoor dining is fine, but it puts servers at risk," Hyland said. "Also, be patient with the staff. We are all working under extreme conditions to please everyone."
This story was first published on Feb. 11, 2021.