Category Archives: SANDWICHES

ROASTED PEPPERS, ONIONS,AND SAUSAGE…A SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT APPROACH TO A CLASSIC

539675_2943376545857_1304531591_32176322_1139794649_n 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)

saseeze You may use all Sweet or Hot or a Mix..up to you!!

Drizzle the finished product with the remaining olive oil.  I can’t get enough sausage, blame my Southern Italian DNA pool for that!

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PANINO OR PANINI? WHAT IS IT REALLY?

abatepanino 008  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.IMG_5407  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.

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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.

 

MAY I HAVE A CHEESEBURGER PLEASE?

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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!!!

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GET YOUR GRILL ON…IT’S MARINATED SKIRT STEAK GONE LITTLE ITALY STYLE

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SKIRT STEAK….sounds as delicious as it tastes.  My favorite cut of beef and yes I’ll take this over any tenderloin OR Kobe steak you pass under my nose.  It’s a very forgiving OR unforgiving cut of beef.  If you like well-done..hmm..this is not the cut of beef for you unless you  braise the life out of it, but at these prices why would you do that??  Skirt Steak as far as I’m concerned is meant to be cooked over really high heat on both sides, left to rest, then sliced fairly thin and eaten  where is looks like this:

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DROOLING YET?  Makes great salads, sandwiches and FAJITAS!  For this blogpost let’s discuss a favorite Sangwich of  A FOOD OBSESSION.  It’s  my version of the grilled rib eye sandwich on Hero rolls (hoagie, sub, grinder, discuss that among yourselves) with Fresh Mozzarella that they serve at the San Gennaro Feast in NYC in September,  My version here is with seasoned fresh sliced tomatoes and Baby Arugula.  I used the feast sandwich as a base and adapted it for this skirt steak version.The meat is marinated so…the other ingredients should blend in and not take over. The tomatoes are simply sliced and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, the arugula is left unadorned and the mozzarella speaks for itself.  The meat, it’s smoky char and marinade and beefy goodness are what you want to primarily hit you in the taste buds.

For 4 sandwiches…

4 NICE HERO (SUB) ROLLS

1 1/2-3/4  lb SKIRT STEAK

Kosher Salt

Cracked Black Pepper

for Marinade

1/8 cup LOW SODIUM SOY SAUCE

1 tsp. Granulated Garlic

2 tbs. HONEY

2 tbs. DIJON MUSTARD

1/8 TSP. CAYENNE OR GROUND CHILES

1/8 TSP. INSTANT ESPRESSO OR ESPRESSO POWDER

2 tbs. CANOLA OIL

1/8 CUP RED WINE

1/2 TSP GOOD SWEET PAPRIKA or CHIPOTLE POWDER (flavor profile up to you..)

whisK ALL THE MARINADE INGREDIENTS UNTIL SMOOTH..do not ADD SALT TO THIS..PLENTY IN THE SOY SAUCE.

Marinade the steak for at least 2 hours, you could do it over night if you want a strong marinade flavor.  Just , and this is important…DO NOT COOK THE MEAT DIRECTLY OUT OF THE FRIDGE..ever.  Serious loss of texture and flavor there.  It must be  brought to room temperature first.  Takes about 1 1/2 hours to get it down to the right temperature.

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Here’s the hard/easy part..or I should say the most IMPORTANT PART…Skirt Steak needs a HIGH HEAT surface. If you are using your charcoal or gas grill, have it hot and the grates oiled and read…if you are using a cast iron skillet (open your windows or you may have your eardrums blown out from the smoke detectors going off) get it hot with a light film of oil rubbed into the skillet, not much you aren’t frying here.  All the steak needs is 4-5 minutes of cooking per side.  That’s it.  Then let it rest for 10 minutes.  I’m sure some of you want it more done than my picture suggests so you’re on your own with how much more you want to cook it.  If it’s dry and stringy and tough you can’t say I didn’t warn you. There are other beef cuts that hold up better with well done cooking, Skirt steak, not one of them.

Toast 4 GOOD Italian Hero Rolls, brush lightly with olive oil and rub with a raw clove of garlic while still warm. After the steak has rested then slice and divide the meat between the 4 rolls sneaking a few slices for yourself too..you made it, you cooked it..you deserve it.  Place the steak on one side of the roll. then add the a few slices of fresh mozzarella, a few slices of fresh tomato and a bit of baby arugula . How much?  Here’s where a recipe is useless.  I like more tomato and mozzarella so i’d add more, just use what you’d like.  Season the sandwich with salt and pepper right before serving (just a pinch) and dig in.

Happy Cooking!!