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Good prep for good food

July 18, 2004

Kristy Sacchet called to suggest her husband, Joseph P. "Joe" Sacchet, as a candidate for this biweekly In the Kitchen feature.

"He is the cook," she said.

He'll go to Hagerstown City Farmers Market, Hoffman's Quality Meats on Cearfoss Pike and five different grocery stores to find the ingredients he wants for whatever he's preparing, Kristy Sacchet said.

"Either do it right, or don't do it," Joe Sacchet told Staff Writer Kate Coleman when she visited Sacchet in the bright kitchen of the family's home in Hagerstown's North End.

Joe Sacchet, 54, grew up in Hagerstown. He graduated from St. Mary's Elementary School and St. Maria Goretti High School, went to Mount St. Mary's College, Hagerstown Junior College and earned his degree in criminal justice from University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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Sacchet worked as a Hagerstown City policeman for a year, then started his career with Maryland Division of Corrections as a case manager in the classification department, working in programing and education. Sacchet, warden at Maryland Correctional Institution for nearly two years, said he is the only person to have held that post at the three State correctional institutions south of Hagerstown - Roxbury Correctional Institution, Maryland Correctional Training Center and Maryland Correctional Institution.

Joe Sacchet likes to cook Italian food. It's an urge he inherited from his father's side of the family. His dad, born in northern Italy, grew up in New York. A physician in Hagerstown, he always cooked on Sundays. His son carries on the weekend cooking tradition. Although he cooks a variety of foods, spaghetti and meatballs are a favorite of his kids, Patrick, 6, and Sara, 5.

Kristy Sacchet doesn't like spaghetti, but her husband prepares plenty of other dishes she enjoys.

How often are you in the kitchen?

I cook every weekend. I cook when I'm off. I cook on all holidays. Monday through Friday, Kristy cooks.

Where did you learn to cook?

When I was a kid, I'd watch my dad's mother when we'd visit her in New York. She had a summer kitchen at her home in the Bronx. She was very good with meats. She made polenta, risotto, and the Italians use a lot of kale and greens.

We had spaghetti every Wednesday night. In the summertime, my dad would make enough sauce to keep us for a year.

Did you cook with your mom as a kid?

My mom was a Southern cook. My mom could throw pies together with no fanfare or effort.

She made an Italian meat stuffing. She got the recipe from a friend, a girl's mother. We all (Sacchet has three sisters) make the stuffing. I make it the best.

When was the first time you made your chili?

This dish (I've been making for) 25 years. I use different kinds of beans. It's a combination of recipes. It's a combination of things I like. It depends on what's available.

Why do you keep making it? What makes it successful?

When I make chili, I make a couple of gallons of it because I freeze it. It freezes great. I made two gallons during the blizzard last winter and took it to the officers at Roxbury.

Do you have a favorite thing you like to eat?

I like to make a variety of salads and homemade dressings. My favorite is different styles of pasta. I also like veal. I like soups.

Do your friends or family have a favorite recipe?

Kristy loves my fried chicken.

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