Aloha readers and friends!!! Blogging from the road for the next few weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii. Flew out on Friday morning which after our Kayak found cheapest flights meant 2 stops (remember. Cheap means you have to eventually pay for it somehow. Lol ) we landed in Kona at 6:45pm. Translate that to our real East coast time of 11:45pm. Basically a very long day as we left our home at 4:30am. Too tired this morning to do the math. Lol. However my food centric sites were determined to find spot to eat after we settled in. There’s no late night eating here so we were crunched for time. About 15 minutes from hotel by shuttle is a shopping and eating complex. We decided on the Food court because it made sense. Ippy’s Hawaiian Barbecue caught my eye. Perfect!! The first item on the menu was the Hawaiian Plate. This is a traditional island food that’s more popular as a lunch usually known as the Plate Lunch. I fell in love with it during previous visits to Hawaii. What’s not to love??? A Hawaiian meat or fish choice always served with 2 scoops of steamed rice and a scoop of American macaroni salad (the elbow macaroni and Mayo style). Here at Ippy’s they make their plates with 2 choices. What to do?? Here’s my thinking process. In my head what do I think is most Hawaiian. Best answered by a Hawaiian but this mainlanders decided the Kalua Pork Is going to be my “most Hawaiian” choice. This is the pork that’s traditional slow cooked and then shredded. The smoke from the cooking process and some Hawaiian salt are the general ingredients. Forvmy other choice I went with the beef teriyaki. Superb. Thin shaved beef cooked with Teriyaki. BOOM. They were served in a bed of shredded cabbage. Topped with green onions. Aloha. This type of Plate is also known as a Mixed Plate since it has more than one entree. Now what do I really love about this Plate besides its components and that I’m on vacations??? Surely that makes everything taste better. There’s an amazing story behind the origins of the dish. You know me. I love immigrant stories. It is said that in Order to cheaply feed the immigrant Japanese girls workers families devises this sort of Bento box meal that could be eaten in the fields and was heavy on the carbs to keep the works full of energy. As Hawaii became more of a melting pot various groups like the Chinese, Filipinos, Portuguese, Koreans All added their touches to the plate’s cast of characters. It’s evolved into the one of Hawaii’s iconic dishes. Now for all you who are horrified by that carbload in the dish that should make you understand why it is the way it is. It reflects historical economics and ethnicity. Fantastic. Try making a Plate Lunch at home. Grilled teriyaki fish. Chicken. Pork. Beef. Shredded pork. Shrimp. Linguica. Kalbi. Just some of the entree choices. But the 2 scoops of steamed white rice and American Macaroni Salad are constant. Enjoy a taste of Hawaii in your kitchen. Download that Don Ho on your Spotify app. Mahalo!!!
Time to discuss one of my favorite food subjects…the MEATBALL. Let’s start out with this tidbit, there’s no such thing as the “ITALIAN MEATBALL”. Why you ask? Because I said so. And here’s why…there are meatballs of all shapes and sizes and ingredients made all over Italy. Most likely you’re assuming the meatball in the big pot of sauce is the “Italian Meatball”. Well that’s certainly one of many. Meatballs as a cocktail party or party food are fantastic since they are small. They work well at a party and are generally a one bite affair. For parties one of the meatball recipes I’ve developed is the SAN MARZANO COCKTAIL MEATBALL. What is that all about? Scenario, you’re at a party…you’re dressed up..nice suit, shirt, dress, whatever. You pick up the meatball out of the pan or platter and it’s dripping with sauce. YIKES! Big sauce stain on your tie…or your chest and the shirt. Down your blouse or onto the front of your dress or skirt. Now you’ve done it!! But you really want that delicious sauce flavor with the meatballs right? Let’s mix this up a bit…for a cocktail party…or any party..add the sauce TO the meatball mix, then make the meatballs and simply serve on a tray, platter or bowl with toothpicks. This recipe is made in two parts. first the sauce, then the meatballs. To start:
THE SAUCE (which becomes one of the ingredients in the meatballs)
1 28oz Can SAN MARZANO DOP Tomatoes, or any good variety of Imported Italian Plums or Domestic Plum Tomatoes
2 TBS OLIVE OIL
1 SMALL FINE DICED ONION
3 FRESH BASIL LEAVES
In a sauce pan heat the olive oil and then add the onion, season with salt and peperoncino. Let this cook until the onions are translucent and soft. TIP: if you get impatient the onions will never really soften in the tomato sauce and you’ll have crunchy onions in the mix. Be patient. Take your time. No rush. Once your onions are soft add the tomatoes which you will crush with your hands first in a bowl, then add them to the pot. Add one basil leaf and bring this to a boil, stir, then to a simmer and let this reduce for 1 hour, stirring frequently, until it’s reduced by about 1/2. Add the remaining 2 basil leaves, taste for seasoning and let it sit off the flame to cool completely. Should take about 2 hours.
MEATBALLS (makes about 30 ish)
3/4 lb GROUND CHUCK
1/4 lb GROUND VEAL
1/4 lb LOOSE SWEET ITALIAN SAUSAGE MEAT
1 JUMBO EGG, beaten
handful of chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup dry italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of the Sauce you made (that recipe above ^^^^)
3/4 cup freshly grated PECORINO ROMANO
2 FINELY (stressing the FINELY) MINCED GARLIC CLOVES
2 TBS OLIVE OIL
1/2 CUP ITALIAN WHITE WINE
In a large bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese, parsley, S & P, Sauce, Garlic together. Let this sit for 20 minutes. Why? we want the sauce to hydrate those breadcrumbs. Your Panada (write it down, it’s the Italian word for a breadcrumb/bread mix moistened with eggs, herbs, oil,liquids like milk or water, etc. which forms the binding for the meatballs. See, we are learning…I love teaching and sharing my food with you!!) Since there’s a significant amount of liquid in the sauce (which is why we reduced it) you want those breadcrumbs to suck up all that moisture which in turn doesn’t steal moisture from the meats and balances the end product…dry crumbs on their own suck moisture from the meat and other sources.
Blend all the meats together. Then add to the Panada after it’s sat for a while. If it’s still too loose, add more breadcrumbs, but only a little at a time. Mix gently with lightly moistened hands (lightly, or you’re adding more water to the balls). When fully mixed let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. NOW start rolling walnut sized meatballs and line them on a parchment or waxed paper lined tray. Chill for 10 minutes. In a heavy skillet add 2 tbs. olive oil and heat. Fry the meatballs for at least 5 minutes on each side without overcrowding. Fry in batches.. Add more Olive oil as needed letting the oil get hot before adding more balls in the pan. (why? the balls will soak in the oil..frying actually prevents that from happening). When finished frying all the meatballs, deglaze the pan with the White Wine and gently add the meatballs back and simmer until the wine has evaporated. Done. Now serve with toothpicks to hungry guests OR let them cool…wrap them in pans and you can reheat them on trays in the oven for serving at your event/ party/dinner. Meatballs and sauce all together No drip. No stains. No mess. It was great cooking with you…hope to come into your kitchens again real soon!!!
Meatballs….one of those perennial favorites, all kinds, all types, all cuisines. One of my missions with my food blogging and Social Media posting is that people open their minds to meatballs other than the usual suspects. Oh I’m not saying that your favorites aren’t fantastic but instead I’m saying look beyond the familiar and there’s a world of other types to enjoy. Standing at my stove last night it was St.Joseph’s Day (Festa di San Giuseppe) which is celebrated with much fervor by Italians, specifically Sicilians. You see the good San Giuseppe saved Sicily from all sorts of bad things and as most religious legends and traditions do, there is celebrating on the days these saints are honored. For Sicily there’s a host of foods, and since March 19 falls during LENT when meat was forbidden to be eaten, all the dishes are meatless, emphasis on seafood and fish. Confused? Asking yourself, um, then why a meatball post? BECAUSE. These are not meatballs for St.Joseph’s day but, as with all recipes, they have a development genesis. Ground chuck in the fridge….one daughter who doesn’t like anchovies in her pasta (which was the one of the St.Joseph’s entrees I made)…killing two birds with one stone meant to have something for my daughter, make meatballs out of that chopped chuck. Easy. Then the recipe developer in me took over and I paired the Sicilian-ness of the day with my meatballs. No these aren’t a traditional Sicilian meatballs but, again, recipe development has many influences and the Sicilian holiday gave me the inspiration. Ground Chuck. Sicilian Oregano. Pecorino cheese. Black Pepper. Eggs. Plain Breadcrumbs. Red Onions. Mix, roll, fry in Sicilian Olive Oil and simmer in a mix of that oil, red onion, basil and Marsala Wine, also from Sicily. Sicily’s cuisine does not always contain garlic, oh yes it’s used but Onion will show up more often. Originally I was going to use White Wine and I named the dish Polpettini in Bianco. Instead I switch last minute to the made in Sicily fortified Marsala. Still in Bianco because that Italian Culinary term means NO TOMATO. See, more pearls of Italian culinary wisdom. You’re Welcome. From my hometown of Staten Island NYC comes this picture courtesy of the Staten Island Advance of the San Giuseppe (St.Joseph’s) Procession. How does any of this factor into developing a recipe? Again, my opinion only, but a good recipe is developed organically…things that should belong together create a special harmony and when you’re in a certain mindset you become even more creative. E COSI’. Let’s make POLPETTINI IN BIANCO.
TIME: 45 MINUTES YIELDS: 25 WALNUT SIZED MEATBALLS, approx.
1 LB. GROUND CHUCK (80% lean, 20% fat)
1 LARGE EGG
3 TBS. FINELY MINCED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
1 SMALL CALABRIAN RED ONION OR SHALLOT, finely minced
1/2 TSP SICILIAN DRIED OREGANO rubbed between your hands, or any good dried Oregano
1 TBS SICILIAN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL or another good Extra Virgin, preferably Italian
1/2 CUP DRY PLAIN BREADCRUMBS moistened (hydrated) with 3 tbs milk or cream
1/2 CUP FRESHLY GRATED CACIOCAVALLO OR PECORINO CHEESE
1/2 TSP SEA SALT
1/2 TSP BLACK PEPPER
2 TBS OLIVE OIL (or use the same you used above)
1/2 CUP MARSALA WINE OR WHITE WINE
1/8 CUP STOCK OR WATER
2 FRESH BASIL LEAVES
In a large bowl beat the egg and add the cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, all but 1 tsp of the onion, salt and pepper,the tbs of Extra Virgin Olive oil. When this is well mixed together, add the meat and gently blend till it’s all one mixture. Let this rest for 5 minutes. Form into Walnut sized balls and line on a foil or wax paper or parchment paper covered baking sheet. In a large wide and heavy skillet heat the 2 TBS of Olive Oil and in batches add the meatballs and let them fry for about 6 minutes, then turn, fry for another 4 minutes. remove them all to a platter keeping them covered until done. In the pan add the remaining onion and saute for 3 minutes then add the stock and the Marsala, bring to a boil. Add the basil leaf then the all the meatballs and reduce to a simmer. Let this simmer for 15 minutes but stir a few times. Done.Remove from the flame and give gentle stir. Let them sit for 15 minutes…then serve. Wonderful with roasted potatoes and a green sauteed vegetable. Enjoy making these PURPETTINE CU’BIANCU….what’s that? POLPETTINE IN BIANCO in Sicilian. More fun saying it that way I think. Happy Cooking!!
There couldn’t be a more appetizing picture for me than a pot of any of Italy’s many tomato based pasta sauces. Add a regional spin to them and now I’m even more excited. Today is Sant’Innocenzo Day in my paternal grandfather, INNOCENZO SCARAMUZZI’s Southern Italian town of his birth. He lived in Grassano, Matera, Basilicata until he immigrated to NYC at the age of 25 in 1915. What better day than September 22 to share a sauce that comes from his region? FYI, not sure if he ever made this as Basilicata is a region with 2 provinces, Potenza (West) and Matera (East) and this sauce is made in and around both Provinces. Potenza is probably where it’s native to. It’s called in proper Italian… SUGO L’INTOPPO….in Basilicata or Lucanian dialect it’s called ‘NTRUPPC. Sidebar here for a second…reasons why Italians are always arguing that THEIR version of any is the right one is because there’s never ONE definition, word, or pronunciation ,let’s just nod our heads and say, “I got it.” Please do not call it a meat sauce or Bolognese or Ragu’Napoletano because there are many similaries in method and ingredients but there are some differences that make it a wonderfully unique regional sauce. I will, on this patronal feast day remember my grandfather by blogging a wonderful sauce from his region. What better way for a grandson who cooks and reveres his grandfather’s memory then to blog a new recipe for you all? Right? I thought so…Let’s cook.
SUGO L’INTOPPO or LU ‘NTROPPC…..SAUCE WITH OBSTACLES or A HITCH…what does that mean? no idea…i’ll guess maybe all the meats in it are being called obstacles SINCE, most Pasta dishes in Italy serve the meats from their sauce as a secondo. Here the meats are served in the pasta so, they are “obstacles” to the pasta…That’s my thoughts and I’m sticking with them. ENJOY!!
1 1/2 LBS SWEET ITALIAN FENNEL SAUSAGE sliced or removed from their casings
1/2 LB STEW BEEF, MINCED
1/4 LB VEAL STEW, MINCED
6 14 oz CANS OF IMPORTED ITALIAN POMODORINI (most come from Potenza which is probably where this sauce originated), or 3 28 oz Cans of San Marzano DOP tomatoes.
1/4 cup OLIVE OIL
2 DICED MEDIUM ONIONS (Don’t even think of adding garlic)
1 TSP PEPERONCINO (DRIED RED CHILE FLAKES)
HANDFUL OF FRESH BASIL
In a large heavy stock pot heat a 1/2 the olive oil and sear all the meats until they are nicely browned on all sides. Remove to a bowl or platter and add the rest of the olive oil to the pan. Add the onions and rapidly stir them around..why?The liquid in the onions will release all the nice caramelized bits from the meats at the bottom of the pan. It will also give the onions some color and flavor.Add some sea salt and the peperoncino. Slowly cook this until the onions are soft, NOT BROWNED. When the onions are soft, should take about 10 minutes…then add the tomatoes. Stir. Bring to a boil then add the meats, bring down to a simmer. Add some basil. Pinch of salt. Let this simmer for 3 hours stirring occasionally. Drop in the remaining basil leaves and let the sauce sit for about 2 hours before using. Done.
Now what pasta is most traditional? STRASCINATI which you can make or buy in good Italian markets and pork stores. It’s a flour/semolina and water rustic pasta that resembles a stretched out orecchiette or cavatelli. BTW, in lieu of STRASCINATI orecchiette or cavatelli are fine .plenty of PECORINO ROMANO over the servings.The finished dish using STRASCINATI I bought in a local Salumeria (Italian Pork Store). Fantastic!!!
The recipe yields enough sauce for up to 3 lbs of Pasta.
Enjoy this view I snapped while coming down the road from Grassano in 2008.
Here is a dish that brings together all the mutlicultural flavors that make up the area of Italy known as Naples. This city was ruled by the Spanish, the Greeks.the Italians, the French, and others and each group left its mark on the city’s architecture, style, and cuisine. A land of garden treasures,with the gifts from the sea and the mountains, help make this Italian regional food so full of bold and striking flavors. One of the most popular vegetables in the area is Escarole..or as it was called in my home, “Scharole'”.It was eaten as a side dish, chopped with garlic and oil, or with anchovies, breadcrumbs, hot pepper, raisin and pignoli. It found its way in many soups, notably the Minestra Maritata( Grandma’s meatball soup), or with beans in the famously popular ‘Scarole and beans…This Baroque filled plate stars all of Naples’ finest ingredients…pecorino romano, garlic, raisin, pignoli, anchovy, San Marzano tomatoes, good olive oil, Gaeta Olives(make sure you are using CURED black olives, not ones packed in brine), ground meat and soaked Italian bread..all served over Naples’ popular Pasta Secca…or dried pasta…in this case,
Start this escarole dish with a cleaned head of ‘scarole. To accomplish this, you must open the head up without breaking any leaves off. In a large bowl 1/2 filled with cold water submerge the escarole head stem side up.
For some reason, more so than any other fresh vegetable I have cooked with, escarole captures an ungodly amount of grit, sand, dirt deep within its green and white crevasses. You must let this sit for 15 minutes, then in a colander, rinse the head under running cold water. Empty the bowl, you will see the sand and dirt in it. Fill it back up 1/2 way, and repeat this process 3 times. Maybe 4. Give it a final rinse. Then, in a large pot of salted
water, bring it up to a boil then place the escarole in it stem side up and bring to a low boil. Cook this for a good
Now let this cool in the colander for about 15 minutes. While
it is cooling, let’s make the filling…a celebration of Naples’ best ingredients. The choice of the ground meat is up to you…veal is my preference, then pork, lastly beef. This dish is called in the Napoletana dialect, I MUCILLI, meaning little kittens and you stuff the whole head in the center with the leaves, then tie it all up. My version is more like Eastern European Stuffed Cabbage, par cooked leaves, turned into individual rolls that are baked in sauce….but we call it Stuffed “Scharole”.. For 1 head of escarole which makes about 20 bundles, use 1/2 lb.ground meat, 1/3 cup grated Locatelli Romano, 1/8 cup raisins, 1/8 cup pignoli, 1 finely minced garlic clove, 1 tsp.red wine, 2 slices of bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry, 2 eggs, beaten, 1/8 cup chopped pitted Gaeta olives,
1 anchovy filet, 1/8 fresh chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, and 1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. salt.
Mix this all together well and let it sit for 10 minutes.
you will need 1 lb of cut ZITI, cooked till al dente. Best to make this after the Stuffed Escarole have finished cooking. While you are waiting for the escarole to relax in it’s sauce, just make the macaroni as normal, drain well, make sure it’s, as always, al dente!
Why are we letting this sit? Flavor melding, it give a chance for the ingredients to give up some of their essential oils and
makes for a tastier end result.
Now take the cooled head of escarole and hold it by the stem, gently, with a knife, cut around the core to release the leaves.
lay them out on a flat clean surface and add about 1 tbs. of the mixture to the stem end of the leaf, then roll them up tuckingthe sides in on the way. Lay them into a large oiled deep pan. Continue till you are done. When you are done rolling the “mucilli” bundles, pour some olive oil over them, then 1/2 cup of white wine or stock, then 2 cans of crushed San Marzano tomatoes. A little salt, pepper, 1 clove of garlic, a sprinkle of oregano,and a shake to the pan. Cover and bring it to a boil , then lower to a simmer and let cook for 40 minutes on a lowflame. This will further soften the escarole and let all the flavors get happy. You can also bake this in a 350 degrees F oven, tightly covered for 1 hour 15 minutes, just check mid way thru that the liquid isn’t drying out.
The mucilli will soak up some of the sauce,not an overly liquid dish when it’s finished, great concentrated flavors…important tip here…DON’T SERVE IT IMMEDIATELY.
Let it sit for about 15 minutes. Serve 3 of the mucilli over a pasta portion, ziti my preference…that has been tossed withpecorino, olive oil and black pepper…pour some of the tomato over it as well…If you are looking for a more authentic Italian dining experience, dress the pasta with some of the sauce and serve first, then have the stuffed escarole rolls as a “secondo”. (I will depart from authenticity right here..the dish is much better all served together, imho).
Just an afterthought…the reason I like the veal the best is because it’s so very mild that it really tastes like the sauce through and through and allows the ingredients in the filling to be stars of the show as well. Purely my taste buds. Another postscript here…the most “authentic” or traditional stuffed escarole contain no meat..it’s pretty much the same ingrdients I’ve used but..no meat. Feel free to make them that way for a vegetarian/meatless dish…it’s very delicious either way. Classify mine Italian-American Napoletana. There’s a mouthful!! HappyCooking!!
Sausage and Peppers with Onions is one of THE most identifiable dishes from the Italian and Italian-American cuisines. Yes, It’s a bonafide Italian dish that is a common combination in and around Naples and other areas of the south. The sweet fennel sausage is the base of this dish and the better quality of the sausage, the better this dish will taste. One can only get the foods that are available in one’s area so hear me out….Most fresh made Sausage comes from Italian Pork Store and is made daily. Supermarkets sometimes have an in-house meat department that makes its’ own daily. Then there are factory made Italian Sausage, generally sold in family packs or in bulk made locally or nationally. These are usually sold fresh but sometimes they will be sold frozen. The typical profile of a Southern Italian Sweet Pork Sausage is quite simple. There’s salt, lots of cracked black pepper, fennel seeds and a blend of fatty and lean pork. When the mix is too lean, your sausage cooks up somewhat dry. Proper fat content provides moisure and flavor to the cooked product. All too often the grind of a factory made Italian sausage borders on the consistency of a hot dog…really? no Thanks. The texture of the sausage is as important as everything else. Ground too fine it loses it’s identity as an Italian sausage. Suffice to say I’m a little fussy, but we are talking about Italian Sausage not Vienna Sausages. But there is something called availability. Simply put, try to find the best of this list in your area and try to stay away from the bottom of the choices, it will just not be the same.
The typical Peppers and Onions pairing with grilled,roasted,or fried sausages is a saute’ of Italian Frying Peppers or Bell Peppers with onions,sometimes additional ingredients. For this blog post let use a different type of pepper, the readily available RED ROASTED PEPPER. Like that? GOOD! Just a little recipe here for a Roasted Peppers and Onions for your Sausages.
SERVES: 4 people TIME: 40 minutes
2 LBS SWEET ITALIAN PORK SAUSAGE WITH FENNEL
3 DRAINED ROASTED RED PEPPERS, SLICED INTO 1/2 INCH STRIPS
1 LARGE ONION, SLICED
2 CLOVES GARLIC, SLICED
1/2 TSP OREGANO
3 BASIL LEAVES
2 TBS OLIVE OIL
KOSHER SALT, CRACKED BLACK PEPPER
1/2 TSP CRUSHED FENNEL SEEDS
1 TSP BRANDY or SHERRY
1/8 cup BRANDY OR SHERRY
1/8 cup water
In a large heavy pan heat 1/2 tsp Olive Oil..then add the Sausage,and let them brown on one side, about 5 minutes each side. That should give nice color to both sides. Now add the brandy and deglaze the pan, then add the water. Swirl it around and gentle cook this until all the water is evaporated and the sausage gets a little more browned when the water is gone. This process takes about 5-6 minutes. Remove the sausage and add 1 tbs. of olive oil. Then add the onions. Move them around so they pick up all the flavor and browned bits from the bottom. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes then add 1/8 cup Brandy or sherry and continue to cook until the onions become translucent and soft. 10 minutes at least. Then add the oregano and the garlic..continue to saute’ for another 3 minutes then add the roasted peppers. Gently cook this for 5 minutes then add the sausage back in and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the flame. Add the basil…Serve on a plate or in Sandwiches (Hero rolls or Italian bread…NOT soft bread…get the crusty stuff)
Drizzle the finished product with the remaining olive oil. I can’t get enough sausage, blame my Southern Italian DNA pool for that!
Sometimes a blog is just a random thought off the top of one’s head (actually, that’s what they REALLY are supposed to be) but now they are a mashup of those random thoughts and a well documented or researched website with nice pictures. This blog post really is a random thought I had while putting together my dinner which was that sandwich you see above. Hero? sure. Sub? whatever. It’s a sandwich but hey, I love to get caught up in the “Italian” of it all and I actually (now you’ll hear my inner voice) call it a PANINO. Sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve had a PANINI right? That hot pressed sandwich that turned into a new food style and industry in the United States..supposedly just like they make them in Italy? Well that’s only partly true. There’s a difference between the PANINO of Italy and the PANINI marketed in the United States. First of all to be most correct, PANINI is just the plural of the Italian word for roll (small bread, bread in Italian is PANE, drop the E add the INO which means LITTLE and we have PANINO). There are many types of Panino breads in Italy, mostly round, or they will use a Bastone cut into pieces but it’s simply a sandwich. Most are served at room temperature and there are some hot pressed versions. There is generally a lot less in terms of cheeses and ingredients on the Italian versions. European sandwiches are never the staggering jaw breaking size of our supersized monsters. I remember seeing my first European sandwich in France and though..how cheap is this place??? There’s hardly anything in there!! Well I got used to it and when in Europe eat European. At home here in the States I like more American style but truth be told I hate anything that’s too big. So am I going to give you are recipe for a PANINO? Not at all. Just some info on how a more Italian PANINO is made. A few layers of sliced meats, some cheese, a dressing of some sort that can be as simple as Extra Virgin Olive Oil or some Lardo, or Mayo and maybe some tomato or onion or greens, but manageable. The single most important part of the more Italian PANINO is the bread…as we say, “Always get the Good Bread”. That means a sturdy Italian or Artisanal bread baked properly, not mush. How’s that for “GOOD BREAD”??? Those loaves are a sampling of what I mean by a good piece of bread baked by Melone Brothers Bakery in Staten Island. The “CONDIMENTO” I made for tonight’s PANINO could not be more simple. In a bowl mix 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 6 finely chopped basil leaves, 1 large well minced clove of garlic, pinch of Peperoncino, pinch of oregano. Then add 2 pints of sliced Grape or Cherry tomatoes in quarters. Mix. Let this sit for 3 hours at room temp. (covered of course). When making you PANINO drizzle some of that oil on both sides of the bread, then layer with sliced cured Italian meats, no more than 2 layers, and add some fresh mozzarella slices or sliced Sharp Italian imported Provolone and over that add some of the tomatoes and more of the dressing. This should make about 3-4 PANINI. No heating. No pressing. Just a sandwich with a load of flavor and kick.
You can add 1 tsp of vinegar to the mix too but I don’t care for the vinegar used when you are making a PANINO with fresh mozzarella. It’s one of those Italian rules that Americans break all the time. I’m with the Italians on that one.