Monthly Archives: September 2014

MOZZARELLA EN CAROZZA, ANOTHER GIFT FROM NAPLES..FRIED MOZZARELLA TRIANGLE SANDWICHES

mozzencarrozz  Let me take you all back to Naples, or Naples via my Grandmother and Mother’s kitchens with one of the most delicious of all “spuntini (snacks)” the famous MOZZARELLA EN CAROZZA.  It literally means Mozzarella in a Carriage because of how the bread holds the cheese inbetween it’s egg battered and fried pieces.  This dish is butchered so often with lots of extra ingredients or, for me, adding breadcrumbs to the coating.  I love breadcrumbs on anything and everything but this is not supposed to be that way.. Why?  Who knows, I’ll blame my Napoletana Grandmother who would refer to these morsels as the good grilled cheese (although she did say grilla cheese).  It’s a simple snack or lite course that need not be fussed with, ok, sometimes a little piece of anchovy goes into the center, or a thin slice of salami or prosciutto or prosciutto cotto (cooked ham) but to experience a food as it was intended..Who says it was intended?  Research and my Grandmother..two very good sources.  As always, I ask you to try the recipe as I’m giving it to you then you can branch out to change it with whatever you think you want, but at least give the as close to the authentic (because we REALLY can’t say that for sure) as possible.  It’s always good to do that with whatever recipe you are following for something.

One warning, and I will argue this with Mario Batali if I have to!…If using a fresh mozzarella do not use it on day one.  It will release water into the bread and give you a quite soggy product and send liquid into the frying pan..that mean splattering oil.  A mess. A good brand of low moisture block mozzarella or day old fresh will give you your best carozza.  Another thing, keep the thickness down to a minumum so it fully melts while frying (no you cannot make this in a crockpot, just saying).  LET’S COOK!!

 

for 8 TRIANGLES                       TIME: 20 minutes or so

8 SLICES OF FIRM WHITE AMERICAN BREAD  OR SANDWICH BREAD,CRUSTS CUT OFF

1 LB MOZZARELLA, IF USING FRESH, DAY OLD…OR USE A GOOD LOW MOISTURE BLOCK STYLE LIKE POLLY-O OR GALBANI SLICED INTO 1/4 SLICES

HANDFUL OF RINSED AND DRIED CHOPPED PARSLEY

1/4 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO

1/2 TSP FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER

PINCH OF KOSHER SALT

4 LARGE EGGS, WELL BEATEN

1 TBS WHOLE MILK

3 tbs. UNBLEACHED FLOUR

OLIVE OIL FOR FRYING

Beat the eggs with the milk then add the pepper, cheese, salt and parsley. Make sure it’s well blended or you will have patches of eggwhites on your Carozza.  They need to be golden colored.

Between 2 pieces of the bread add 2 slices or enough to thoroughly cover the surface of the bread.  Slice the bread on a diagonal and dip the bread into the flour and coat all sides (this is to help seal the cheese inside).  In a wide pan heat 2 tbs of olive oil until a drop of the egg mixture dances around in it when added to the pan.  Now gently dip the triangle into the egg..let it sit for a 30 seconds, then do the other side  letting exscess run off then into the pan.  Do this only until you have 4 in the pan.  Crowding will reduce the heat, more oil will be soaked and flipping them will be a royal nightmare.  Keep the flame on medium giving the egg a chance to cook, the filling a chance to melt and don’t burn it whatever you do.  Burnt eggs are nasty.  Drain on paper towels. Continue with the next batch. Make sure you lightly top tent the platter with foil and keep in a very low oven.  Add more oil if neccessary.

Now what to do with our little mozzarella en carozza besides eating them…??  Well, here in the USA a bowl of dipping sauce seems to come with everything.  Marinara is the usual suspect here.  For me, and for Napoletana’s in Naples there is no dipping sauce.  Must we dip everything?  A Little bit of pecorino…a little fresh lemon, or just nothing.  Sometimes they are served with a butter, wine, and anchovy sauce but that really goes with Carozza’s slightly more northern cousin, Spiedini Alla Romana, which may have nothing to do with Rome and everything to do with Naples.  Fact check and research for another time.    For now we will stick with  Mozzarella en Carozza.  So simple, so good.

Serving suggestion…along with a lemon, olive oil and arugula salad.  What a meal!!!  Can be made ahead of time and gently reheated.

 

Advertisements

ROAST LOIN OF PORK WITH PANZETTA STUFFING, MEMORIES OF MOM

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Memories are a wonderful thing, yes, there are good ones and there are bad ones but the ones that I love the most are the ones that connect me to a time and place and people…my daughters’ coming to America, their birthdays, the day I met my wife, and that whole group of memories that connects me to my family that is no longer around.  Not in a morbid way but in a very healthy wonderful way foods that my mom, dad, or grandparents made will have them sitting at the table with us.  This dish I’m blogging for you is one of those that is a deep deep memory of my Mom’s cooking from when I was a kid.  It’s funny, as unique as one may think they are when I posted the pictures of the dinner on Facebook out of the woodwork came so many who basically all said the same thing, “My Mom made that!! I haven’t seen or had that in years”. So here I am now blogging it so that all may enjoy that memory and introduce this to those who have never heard or had it.  What is it other than a stuffed roast?  Here’s some background on the dish..it comes from Southern Italy and is called PANZETTA.  It’s a stuffed breast of veal with a filling very specific to this dish  made of eggs, bread, herbs, lots of pecorino, lots of black pepper,onions. That’s the basic more popular version. As with most Italian dishes there are variations from home to home.  My Mom’s (and btw, this was her favorite dish of all) was the recipe I just mentioned but many families added sausage, or cured Italian meats like Prosciutto or Pancetta, some added mushrooms, some added spinach and so on.  I decided I’d use my mom’s base and add some spinach, pancetta and onions realizing that maybe I’d compromise the taste of Mom’s but I’d take that chance.  The other change I made and this is why I cannot call the entire dish PANZETTA is that I used a Bone in Loin of Pork Roast.  Ever have breast of veal?  It’s unique and not well loved.  There’s about a 2 inch piece of meat running through it wiTH a boatload of bone and connective tissue.  Place it under the “acquired taste” file.  I happen to love it mostly because of it’s sentimental value but for feeding my family and sharing this with all of you, the pork is more universally loved.  The stuffing is just too good to be added to a breast of veal so here I present to you, LONZA DI MAIALE RIPIENE NELLO STILE DI PANZETTA… so there’s a mouthful…Bone in Loin of Pork Roasted Stuffed with Panzetta style stuffing.  I’ve done my research on this stuffing and I only see it inside of a Panzetta, it’s so unique.   Did I say unique already?  Sorry I guess I need to explain what I mean by unique.  It’s the taste and texture, very fluffy, eggy, cheesy, with the flavor of black pepper shining through.  Almost a mousse like rather then a dense stuffing.  Intrigued?  After you are done cooking it and eating it look across your table and my mother will be smiling at you.  We’ve made her very happy!

 

SERVES: up to 8                            TIME: about 2 1/2 hours

INGREDIENTS;

5LB BONE IN LOIN OF PORK WITH A NICE “CAP” OF FAT ON TOP, BUTTERFLIED OR OPENED UP SO YOU CAN STUFF THE ROAST, HAVE YOUR MEAT PERSON OR BUTCHER DO THIS FOR YOU.

1/4 CUP WHITE WINE

3 TBS CHOPPED FRESH THYME

1 TSP. CRUMBLED DRIED OREGANO

KOSHER SALT, GROUND BLACK PEPPER

OLIVE OIL

2 CLOVES GARLIC

STUFFING:

1/8 LB. DICED PANCETTA

1 MEDIUM ONION, DICED

1 TBS. OLIVE OIL

2 1/2 CUPS STALE ITALIAN BREAD, CUBED, SOAKED IN WATER AND GENTLY SQUEEZED DRY

1/2 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO ROMANO

2 TBS. CHOPPED PARSLEY

1 1/2 CUPS FINELY CHOPPED FRESH SPINACH, BABY SPINACH IS BEST, MORE TENDER

3/4 TSP FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER

4 CRUSHED FENNEL SEEDS

2 BEATEN EXTRA LARGE EGGS

3 TBS. GROUND ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS (MADE FROM ITALIAN BREAD, NOT THE FINE CANNED ONES)

Make sure your roast is patted dry and ready for stuffing.  Season the interior with a little salt and pepper.  While it is coming to room temperature, preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a pan, add 1 tbs olive oil, heat, then add the pancetta and let it render and get browned, almost but not quite crisp..takes about 8 minutes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Then add the onion and let this cook gently till the onions are translucent and soft, about another 10 minutes.  Add the fennel seeds and the wine.  Let this cook until the wine is evaporated.  You are now left with lots of flavor. Add the spinach and mix, it will gently wilt.  In a bowl beat together the eggs, black pepper and pecorino.  Add the soaked cubed bread. Mix. Now add the crumbs mix, gently.  Then add the pancetta and onion.  Mix till blended, and you are done.  Place this up against the bones and on the meat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Easy.  don’t panic if some falls out you can press it back into the rolled roast when you are done. Roll this up and tie up the roast, or if you are not as lazy I as tend to be, just roll it and stand it up nicely in an oiled baking pan.  I couldn’t find my meat rack so it went right onto the bottom of the pan but a meat rack is better.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  It’s always better to tie up a roast like this as it helps with more even cooking, but I wasn’t having any of that the other night.  Truth be told it’s one of my not so good cooking skills so I avoid it whenever I think I can get away with it.  I don’t advise that though. Give the roast a nice salting, black pepper, rub it with a sliced clove of garlic all over, then pour the wine over it..then rub it with some olive oil.  Into the over it goes for 1/2 hour at 400 F.  Then lower the oven to 375 F and roast for another hour or until a thermometer reads 140 F when placed into the meat.  When it’s done big RULE here, LET THE MEAT REST!!!   Cover with foil and leave it for at least 15 minutes.  Then slice into chop size or just carve the meat from the bone.   Your call.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

after carving…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Inside the meat is moist, and the stuffing…well the stuffing…it’s a doorway into a my childhood home.  Such a different stuffing that really captures every Italian flavor , it’s a real winner.  After you’ve done the first 1/2 hour of roasting, add some cut Yukon Gold tossed with salt, pepper, garlic, chopped onion and celery and olive oil in the pan and let them cook for the balance of the roasting time. Just make sure to rotate the pan 1/2 way thru and move the potatoes around for even browning.  More deliciousness.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

There may be no better potato than one that’s cooked in a mix of Olive Oil and rendered pork fat, especially if some of that is cured pork.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Up in the left corner of this picutre notice the Applesauce.  Yes, Applesauce.  Pork and Applesauce are a Fall combo and a very American pairing.  I made the applesauce with sweet onions (for this savory dish), apples, apple cider, salt, and some brown sugar.  It complimented the pork wonderfully.  That’s my preference for roast pork over a gravy, again, your choice but with the rich stuffing the sweetness of the apple cuts through and balances the whole dish.  Well, that’s enough from me today.  Find a pork roast, or a veal one, and make this Panzetta styled stuffing.  Make my mom smile!

MAY I HAVE A CHEESEBURGER PLEASE?

008

 

How do you like my fancy placemat? There’s a cool idea from A FOOD OBSESSION for your next casual dinner party, using food magazines to dress up the table.  I like!   I chose that issue to highlight the BEST MEAL OF THE YEAR line on the cover, plus the Bon Appetit is always an invite to enjoy what you are about to eat.  How French!  How delicious!  Delicious like the CHEESEBURGER.  September 18 is considered by those who make up such things as NATIONAL CHEESEBURGER DAY.  This is not National Hamburger Day, that gets celebrated at another time so stick to the cheese on the burger for now!  Not going drag this post out, it’s simple.  Here’s my way of making a cheeseburger…

the meat—-the fattier the tastier and the juicier, especially if you don’t like it blood rare. The most accessible grind of beef for a burger that I use is GROUND CHUCK, also defined as a mix of 80% lean and 20% fat. This not only tastes wonderful it cooks wonderfully too.  The higher the lean to fat ratio you really need to cook those blends quite rare as longer cooking dries the meat out. It’s all muscle and no fat.  I know, sounds gross, but that’s the dealio.  The meat should be just meat.  Anything else to me (meaning adding ingredients and flavors to the meat itself) turns them into seasoned meatloaf patties.  I want a beefy burger so I leave the seasoning, and that includes salt and pepper out of the mix.

seasoning—Kosher Salt and fresh ground black pepper…used to finish the burger right before serving and placing on a bun or the plate.

heat source–varied…a salt seasoned hot cast iron skillet, a high broiler, a charcoal fire, a gas grill..all good.  My preferences are the iron skillet and the charcoal fire.  But they are all good and should be high because that crust is created when the surface of the burger hits the heat.

size—up to you, completely.  I don’t like something that’s too big for my mouth so 1/4 lb of meat is my comfort zone.

type of cheese—again up to you.  Mozzarella is not a favorite, I know, you must be shocked at that since I am a huge fan of that cheese but on a burger I think it’s a bad choice.  American cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Colby, Brick, Muenster, Swiss, Provolone all melt nicely and complement the burger.  American is my number one just because of that whole comfort level thing..most every cheeseburger of my youth was coated in melted American cheese.  I love it on a burger.

roll—(bun), partial to Potato Rolls, will entertain a Brioche roll, least of all is a Kaiser Roll but this is really up to your taste because I can’t think of a reason why telling you a Potato roll is better, only that I like it better.  You are on your own here.

Optimum “done” factor…Black and Blue, Rare, Medium Rare, Medium, Medium Well, Welldone, Burnt.  I like Rare-Medium Rare..my wife likes burnt so again, you make the call.

ADD-ONS—your call, i’m no help to you here other than I like ketchup, look at that picture..lots of it and it must be Heinz 57.  Onions I like raw, i’ll entertain grilled, there’s bacon, mayo, lettuce, tomato, avocado, relish, mustard, BBQ sauce, SteakSauce, Hot Sauce, Thousand Island, the list is endless. Eat it the way you want.

Time to wrap up here, make a cheeseburger at home using some or all of my preferences and let me know what you’ve come up with.  Cheeseburgers for everyone!!!

300823_2102887454155_1304531591_31828500_690752139_n

 

ROASTED RED PEPPERS AND POTATOES, A HARVEST BOUNTY IN A PLATE

387295_2248118564842_1304531591_31903770_900548458_n

The end of Summer and the start of Autumn can collectively be called the “HARVEST” season and this recipe helps celebrate some of it’s stars.  Potatoes, Roasted Peppers,Tomatoes, Basil will all brighten up this dish which is perfect as a main dish or a side dish.   Sometimes Italian cuisine gets a bad rap only because many of it’s most popular dishes in America have become fried and heavy laden with too much cheese.  Most common to Italian food from top to bottom of the boot are vegetable mixes.  Beans, Potatoes, Greens, Root Vegetables, Tomatoes with onions, garlic, herbs are much more representative of Italian cuisine than say a Calzone.  Calzones are really representative of the cuisine of  Southern Italian regions, primarily Naples. By the way, I really dislike when writers and food types shy away from those “red sauced” dishes and act as if they are not “really Italian”.  I’m not promoting that, however it’s one of the “lessons” or tidbits I hope the reader gets from my blogging and posts, that Italian food is very very healthy and does not rely solely on  full fat cheeses and meats.  Enough of my lessons for the day because I really want you to enjoy this dish I’m about to share.

For 4-6 People    Time: about 2 hours

5 medium sized REDSKIN POTATOES…cubes and cooked  in salted water, then drained

4 ROASTED RED PEPPERS, sliced into medium strips…(note here..no one likes to bite into something that slaps you back in the face..pet peeve–food that is too big for your mouth. Slice those peppers!!)

1 sliced ONION

1/2 pt. Sliced CHERRY TOMATOES or 3 seeded and diced ripe TOMATOES

5 BASIL LEAVES

2 TBS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

KOSHER SALT,  GROUND BLACK PEPPER

2 sliced cloves of GARLIC

water if necessary

 

In a large wide pan, heat  the olive oil over medium heat…add the onions, a little salt, and cook them until they are soft.  Key piece of info…if they are not soft before you add everything else, they will never get soft.  Be patient.  Takes about 10 minutes.  Then add the potatoes and let them take on some color, about 8 minutes, making sure to move them around the pan.  add a  pinch of salt.  Then add the tomatoes and cook them for 5 minutes , they should break down nicely.  Add the garlic for 2 mintues…then the roasted peppers.  Blend all the ingredients and taste…add more salt if neeeded.  Let this cook on low heat now for about 15 minutes, again, stir..why?  Because tomatoes and pepper have natural sugars which do burn up and forever alter the taste of your dish.  The object of this dish is to have some of those roasted peppers and tomatoes break down and “coat” the potatoes a bit.  Wonderful flavors.  I’m a huge fan of any type of potatoes blended with ground or pureed chile peppers or roasted red pepper.  Finally, drizzle the other Tbs. of Olive oil over the dish, remove from the heat and add the black pepper, Basil leaves then taste for seasoning.  Add more salt if needed, sometimes those potatoes suck it all up and leave you with a bland dish.  Over salting is death to a dish and so is underseasoning.

You may find it too dry or if it’s starting to sizzle and caramelize depending on your stove top.  Add 4 tbs. of water to the dish, only if you feel the need to.  Let it eventually evaporate, doesn’t take long.

Enjoy this tasty dish…my personal serving suggestion is to eat this as a stand alone dish…i add peperoncino and pecorino to mine.  Eat it your way and have fun making it!! Happy Cooking!!

001

 

ITALIAN SAUSAGE CLASS IS IN SESSION: CHEESE AND PARSLEY, “LUGANEGA”, BARESE SAUSAGE

006

 

 

Class is in session, sit down and “FA ATTENZIONE”  (pay attention).  Today’s class is not about sausage making it’s simply about a particular type of Italian Sausage, the thin Cheese and Parsley sausage that goes by a host of names.  It can be called BARESE SAUSAGE (quite the popular name of it in Canada), Cheese and Parsley Sausage, the most used in the NYC and surrounding areas, LUGANEGA which is the ancient name for a COILED ITALIAN PORK UNCURED SAUSAGE, also called Lucanega, Lucania and many Italian-Americans whose ancestry is from Bari and Puglia or Basilicata refer to it as “SHIVILATZ”…which definitely is an American corruption of a dialect word.  Take it from this Italian American, we confuse ourselves with 1000 names and pronounciations for the same thing.

Pure LUGANEGA most likely was a coarse ground pork sausage  with spices for preserving it and made in long coils came from LUCANIA now called BASILICATA.  It’s the region my maternal grandfather Innocenzo Scaramuzzi was born in and immigrated to NYC from when he was 25.   I blame him for my insatiable taste for this delicious treat.

008  There I am with Grandpa, Christmas Day 1978.  Much of what is in my cooking comes directly from his style, region, and dishes.  Grazie Grandpa. I n my home region of NY/NJ cheese and parsley sausage held together with a crisscross of wooden skewers always signaled the beginning of the Summer as the most popular way to make them was on the grill and Summer is our grilling season.  Today they are sold year round and many places refer to them as Luganega.  Those sausages contain fresh chopped parsley, grated Provolone or Pecorino, lots of ground black pepper.  Most likely if you asked for Luganega in Italy you would get the more Northern Italy style which is a thicker continuous coil of sweet pork sausage, no cheese or parsley.   Basilicata makes a fennel version and local hot chile spiked version.  No studies have been done on this to back me up so if you know of the “REAL” reason why, please comment back to me..but…my assumption is that since the Barese-Americans all seem to have the special name of it (Shivulazz) and the Canadians call it Barese Sausage…the Cheese and Parsley version must be from Puglia (Bari is the capital of Puglia).008  A beautiful locally made Cheese and Parsley ring.  This became the grilled version you see in the top picutre.    Succulent and bursting with flavor this sausage it too be savored.  I can’t speak any more highly about it, get out and find a ring.  Best way to cook it?  Over Charcoal or Roasted or Pan Fried.  Takes only about 15 minutes to cook it all the way thru, just not over too high of any heat source.  You want to create a crisp caramelized casing on the sausage.  Let it sit for 5 minutes after removing it from the heat source.  This is a thin sausage, yes, cooks quickly but it’s tight wrapping means it could still be raw where the coils touch.  15 minutes should do it.  Cut a piece from the center if you’re not sure and cook a little longer, just don’t overcook because when it’s dry is just not as good.  Rub a lemon over the sides of it right before serving along with a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Serve it over a bed of greens, cooked with garlic and oil OR raw, it’s just beautiful.

It can also be served with a variety of sides and along with small meatballs.  Stuff cut pieces into Brick oven Italian loaves of bread, with roasted peppers, with fried peppers and onions..dice it up and add to a pasta dish or roast with potatoes, carrots, celery.  In concluding this “class” on a type of Italian sausage..while there may be certain recipes that are most traditional with a food by no means is it the end of what you can do with it.  There are many ways to make a dish out of these Luganega.  Try your hand at it…and let me know what you came up with.

Happy Cooking!!

008

 

 

 

ANELLETTI AL FORNO, THE REAL SPAGHETTI -O’S, FROM SICILY

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Italy is a land of many regions like every other country and each area fiercely promotes it’s different foods, traditions, and dishes.  One of the biggest arguments you will encounter when two Italian-Americans get together will be about food, precisely about a dish.  One says his mother never made the dish, or makes it a certain way.  The other fights back with his mother made better and more importantly his mamma’s way is the RIGHT way because that’s what Mamma made.  This bickering is fueled by repetitive filling up of empty red wine glasses and reaches a crescendo when their stomachs are full and the argument is a draw.  Both sides walk away thinking regardless of what just went down, they are right, their momma is queen, their region of Italy is the only one that matters so, let’s have espresso and maybe a cannoli. Italian-Americans are a very unique blend of these hardcore Italian regions.  Most Italian-Americans (let’s call them IAs, too much typing) are American born of one or both parents having Italian lineage but there are many different regions that married together to form the current IA profile in America.  Take A FOOD OBSESSION, my Paternal grandparents were both born in Sciacca, Sicily. My mother’s mother was born in Castelbaronia, Avellino and lived in Naples from 10 to 20 years of age and my maternal grandfather was born in Grassano, Matera in Basilicata.  That makes me a product of 3 distinct regions, with my mom’s mom having lived in 2 towns in Campania bringing both those areas’ food traditions into the kitchen.  At some point the cooking of Italian food in America became an amalgam of all these regions, some very similar some quite different so remember that next time you hear two IAs making a fuss about whose food is more authentic.  What’s all this blabber about anyway?  It sets up this blogpost and I present to you a very regional dish, ANELLETTI AL FORNO which comes from in and around the Palermo region of Sicily.  It’s basically a baked pasta that uses ANELLETTI (means Little Rings).tomasello_aneletti  That’s right..WHOAAA…they look like Spaghetti-O’s..that All American kid’s canned pasta from Chef Boy-Ar-Dee.  I’m sure some of you love it as it was served with love to you as a child.  IA’s don’t do canned pasta, ever. We’d rather have our tongues cut out.  I’m sure the good Chef Boiardi’s employees used this pasta dish as the basis for stuff in the can.  Let’s freshen that idea up and go a little “authentic” (almost a silly word, no one really knows exactly what was or is authentic anymore but this is close) and go with my preparation of Anelletti Al Forno.  To show you how regional and isolated the food cultures of Italy can be, my Sicilian Grandmother who did cook a tomato sauce with peas (and potatoes) in a very Sicilian style never ever made Anelletti.  Why?  She came from Sciacca which is directly south on the Mediterranean shore below Palermo.  A few hours and some mountains made this dish totally unknown in her kitchen.  I was introduced to this dish at the FEAST OF SAINT ROSALIA on 18th Avenue in Brooklyn in the 70’s.  Back then the feast which celebrates the patron saint of Palermo was mostly lined with Sicilian food vendors, along with the usual suspects at an Italian-American street feast. teschio  In the shadow of Santa Rosalia I enjoyed Stuffed Artichokes, Panelle (Chick pea fritters), Arancini (Rice Balls) and a serving of Anelletti al Forno.  I fell in love and never looked back.  Sept. 4 in the traditional Feast of St.Rosalia but it’s celebrated in Palermo on July 15 during a celebration called IL FESTINO.  Don’t use one or twospecial days to make  this pasta, although making it on those days  does make it taste a little special..i’m not lying to you..maybe just a little bit.  Make it anytime and serve with a nice salad.  Let ‘s hit the kitchen.

Makes: 5-6 servings   Time: about 3 hours

1 LB. ANELLETTI (PASTA RINGS), COOKED TILL JUST UNDER AL DENTE, follow the package directions but knock off a few minutes at the end.

1/2 lb. GROUND VEAL or BEEF

1/2 LB. GROUND PORK

3 TBS. OLIVE OIL

1 FINE DICED ONION

1 28 OZ CAN IMPORTED ITALIAN TOMATOES (SAN MARZANO IF YOU HAVE THEM, not Sicilian, but very delicious)

1/2 can IMPORTED ITALIAN TOMATO PASTE

3 CHOPPED CELERY LEAVES

1 fine diced CARROT

1 cup RED WINE

2 cups WATER

Kosher salt

Black pepper

pinch of OREGANO

1 cup shelled GREEN PEAS

Olive oil and butter for greasing the Baking Pan

3 tbs. BREAD CRUMBS for LINING THE PAN

1 cup grated PECORINO OR CACIOCAVALLO

1 cup diced PRIMOSALE CHEESE or MOZZARELLA or PROVOLONE

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS: FRIED SLICES OF EGGPLANT (no breading), CHOPPED WHOLE HARD BOILED EGGS,  CHOPPED SOPRESSATA

In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tbs of olive oil…add the onions, carrots, and 1/2 the celery leaves , season with salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 15 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.  Add the ground meats to the pot and cook until you don’t see any pink, stirring from time to time, about 10 minutes. Now season with salt and pepper and the celery leaves. and oregano.  Cook for 2 minutes then add the wine, bring to a slow boil. Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, then add the water, bring to a boil then down to a simmer. Add the tomatoes, that you crushed with your hands, to the pot.  Let this cook down for a good 1 hour 15 minutes.  It should be thick, if still watery, continue to reduce until that water is cooked out. Add the peas  and the balance of the celery leaves and cook for additional 10 minutes.

While all that is happening, cook the pasta until just under al dente according to the package directions.  Notice I’m not telling you to substitute the pasta.  This is not a universal pasta dish, it’s a regionally SPECIFIC heritage dish from the Palermo province of Sicily.  There’s no substitute..and to make it easy for you here’s a link where you can buy it on line:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Anelletti-No-Tomasello-16oz-1lb/dp/B000LRKPRA

There are other places too on the web. as well.  It’s INTRINSIC to use the Anelletti.  In a baking pan that you have lightly greased with butter or olive oil sprinkle 3/4 of the breadcrumbs around the pan.  Mix the pasta and the cheeses together with sauce( reserve 1 cup of sauce for the top)  then turn it into the pan.   Sprinkle with the diced cheese, the reserved sauce and more breadcrumbs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Bake in a 375 F degree oven for 40 minutes.  Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

This delicious treat sometimes has a thicker layer of crumbs around it, or is cooked in a ring pan or mold.  Be creative but keep to the traditions, there’s plenty of wiggle room there.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Here’s the “moral” of this blogpost/story, especially for the most opinionated of you out there—open your mind to things that are not part of the kitchen you grew up on and see why it may be a valid authentic dish.  Until that visit to the streets of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn for the St.Rosalia Feast in the 70’s I would have said that Anelletti is NOT a Sicilian dish because my grandmother didn’t make it.  How wrong I would have been!  And when you hear this jingle from the 60’s you’ll have a WHOLE’nother idea of what that dish is:

 

 

 

 

GRILLED SAMBAL CHICKEN KEBABS WITH SRIRACHA AND MINT

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sweet, Salty, Smoky…all flavors I just love in a dish.  It’s what makes the food of Asia so appealing to me.  Last year BON APPETIT had a kebab on it’s cover and i almost ate the page itself.  The picture hits EVERY one of my senses and propelled me to pick up a pack of chicken thighs to make the dish myself.  What’s not to love?? SAMBAL!!  Do you use that sauce?  You don’t?? March right out to the store and get a jar, you’ll thank me for it.  It’s a ground chile sauce that’s popular in many Southeast Asian cuisines, SAMBAL OELEK is a popular version and is found in many Asian or mainstream markets:006  The variations on Sambal are very diverse, all starting with the ground local chiles then some have shrimp paste, or garlic, or lemon grass, or fish sauce, you get it..there are many regional nuances which make it a very special culinary treat and a great addition to your condimenets.  Think Sriracha if it were a paste and not a “sauce”.  There’s some texture here.  It’s wonderful !  When I looked at this recipe I said..WOW..AND it contains SRIRACHA too! Yes, yes,  there are tons of “Best in show” and favorites in the hot sauce world. These are A FOOD OBSESSION’s favorite, no debating it, i stand by my decision!

Let’s discuss the meat used in this recipe.  It’s Chicken THIGHS,  trimmed, boneless, skinless and before you can say..CAN I SUBSTITUTE, let me stop you there.  Of course you can substitute this with Chicken breast BUT it’s different.  Not even a like or dislike reason here, the reason is Chicken Thigh meat holds this marinate and cooking better, it’s just a better meat (poultry) cut to use and it stays juicier than white meat does, no disrespect to the breast meat.

The recipe speaks for itself, from the July 2013 issue of BON APPETIT, a great cooking and food magazine, A FOOD OBSESSION recommends it highly.  While the recipe belongs to Bon Appetit, the picture at top is 100% A FOOD OBSESSION’S and I enjoyed EVERY MINUTE of eating it too…delicious and pretty as a picture!

Here’s the recipe adapted from the magazine, serves 4:

  • 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha
  • 2 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • mint leaves and lime wedges for garnish
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch–2-inch piece
  • 8 bamboo skewers soaked in water at least 1 hour
    • Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Whisk brown sugar, vinegar, chili paste, fish sauce, Sriracha, and ginger in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Marinade for 2 hours. Thread 4 or 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.
    • Transfer marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce  simmer until reduced by half , takes about 10 minutes
    • Grill chicken, turning and basting often with reduced marinade, until cooked through, 8–10 minutes.
    • garnish with chopped mint leaves and lime wedges…a squeeze of lime over the chicken right after it’s off the grill really wakes up the flavors.

HOWEVER in true make it your own style..i felt it needed a little sumpin sumpin, so, i garnished the grilled skewers with fresh chopped mint leaves..i highly suggest it.

This recipe was/is a keeper!