Category Archives: SAUSAGE

SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI RABE PIZZA FROM NAPLES….SALSICCE E FRIARIELLI

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABROCCOLI RABE,  SAUSAGE AND PIZZA.  Sounds amazing and it is and it’s a classic.  Long before the tomato was introduced from the Americas to Europe Pizza was made using whatever the cook found in their pantries and gardens.  Most pizza reflected the local ingredients and this pizza we will make is one of the oldest Pizze in Napoli.  Naples, storied home of the modern pizza (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is also the land of the FRIARIELLI which is grown all around Naples is almost revered with a religious fervor.  I’ve never been able to ascertain whether it’s the same as our American Broccoli Rabe or a member of the family of similar greens (Cima di Rape being another one used in Puglia and Basilicata, Broccoletti in Rome) but in the USA I’ve never seen it marketed as Friarielli.  The popularity of Broccoli Rabe in America is due to this religious cult of worshiping the delicious bitter greens that the Italian Americans from Southern Italy,  Naples and Puglia in particular brought with them during the great Immigration from 1880-1930.  Every ItalianAmerican grew up with Broccoli rabe, marketed by the Andy Boy Corp who planted the seeds in California and began a huge business off of his forms of Broccoli.  Look at the label on your broccoli rabe.  Most likely it’s the Andy Boy brand, named after one of the founder’s sons. The founders were immigrants from Messina, Sicily, Stefano and Andrea (Andrew) D’Arrigo.  The family still owns the company.  We owe our American broccoli and broccoli rabe eating to them.  0001  There’s a 95 year old photo of Andrew D’Arrigo, “Andy Boy” the face on the familiar label.  0002How many of those labels did I see my mom take off of the Broccoli Rabe or Broccoli before she washed (and washed, and washed and washed) them prior to slicing them down for her various dishes.  That bitter, sulphury aroma of broccoli rabe cooking with garlic, peperoncino and olive oil is one of my most favorite sentimental food smells.  Brings me back to Mom’s kitchen with the first whiff.  Friarielli grow in certain regions around Naples and up into Avellino and Benevento, neighboring Provinces.  They are hallowed in those parts and great care and pride is taken with their preparation for eating.  This pizza is part of La Cucina Napoletana, the great cuisine of Naples which has given birth to much of what is part of the global and the Italian American cuisines. Sausage and Broccoli Rabe pie Naples style traditionally is without tomato.  That proves it’s an ancient dish.  The ingredients and preparation are simple and straight forward.  IMG_2069 The Broccoli Rabe (Friarielli).

An old Napoletana saying is  ” A SASICC E’ A MORT  RE FRIARIELL”.  Sausage will die without Broccoli Rabe.  They are meant for each other!!  Let’s make A’PIZZ…

 

1 Pizza Dough (homemade or bakery bought, don’t use the commercial brands, too many additives)

Risen for 24 hours.  Press into a well Olive Oiled pan till it hits all the sides of a standard baking  1/2 sheet.  I prefer the heavy gauge restaurant supply ones, They heat up more evenly.

1 head of Broccoli Rabe, well rinsed and dried, then chopped discarding the thicker stem ends.

Olive Oil

2 sliced cloves of Garlic

Peperoncino

Salt

Water

3 Sweet Italian Sausage with fennel Links , remove the meat from the casings.

2 cups of diced PROVOLA Cheese, or a blend of diced Mozzarella and Provolone.

While the dough is resting in the pan, heat 2 tbs of olive oil, add the garlic and peperoncino (to taste), pinch of salt.  When the garlic is fragrant add the Broccoli Rabe and cook this for at least 10 minute on medium.  Add 1/8 cup of water and just continue to cook until the broccoli rabe is soft.  Make sure the water has evaporated.  Drain.

In another pan heat 1 tbs olive oil and add the sausage meat.  Cook over medium stirring ocassionally until the meat is almost cooked.  Drain and add to the Broccoli Rabe.  Pre heat oven to 500 degrees F.guancialeravioli 022

Drizzle some olive oil over the pizza dough and then place one cup of the cheese over the top.  then the Sausage and Broccoli Rabe mixture.  Then the remaining cup.  Place on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes,  Then rotate the pan and bake for an addition 5-10 minutes being careful not to over cook.   When done slice into squares and let it sit for a few minutes.  Serve.  FANTASTIC!

The lead picture is the first time I had Friarielli.  We were on a family vacation on a MSC Italian Line cruise around Italy.  The cruise ship kitchen was decidedly Napoletana and the daily foods reflected this.  Other regions were represented as was the rest of the world’s cuisines, but the bulk of the meals were Napoletana and southern Italian.  I asked a server if I could talk to the chef or a cook and get this recipe for that picture.  I was shown the Friarielli which were on my bucket list and was told how to make this pizza.  I was also told how the sausage and friarielli combo is near and dear to Napoletana hearts and I shared how my ItalianAmerican world back in the USA is in love with that combination as well.  So you’ve just enjoy part of that wonderful vacation around Italy my family had by reading this and hopefully you’ll create this beloved pizza in your own kitchen.

 

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SAGE AND CRANBERRY ITALIAN SAUSAGE PATTIES…

003The Fall Season seems to turn even our foods in to rust, red, orange and muted green colored fantasies.  Seasons also affect my recipe development as was the case on a blustery autumn day when there was Italian Sweet Fennel Sausage, Calabrian N’duja(a chile spike Calabrian spreadable salami), fresh sage sitting in my fridge.  Grey and chilly outside meant something warm and fall-ish needed to be cooked in the kitchen and I came up with making sausage patties with the ingredients plus some pantry items like a bag of Dried Cranberries.  The pairing of savory minced meats with sweet dried fruits is a gift from the Arab countries and was brought to the Western Mediterranean during their conquests of those areas.  Raisins, currants, pignoli, almonds and so forth show up in ground meat and fish dishes quite often in places like Italy and Spain.  I pooled those resources to develop this VERY tasty SAGE AND CRANBERRY SAUSAGE PATTY.  There’s flavors from Southern and Central Italy here but I’m modifying the recipe for the blog since N’djua is a ridiculously tough food to find for most people.  Instead I’m going to use Spanish Pimenton (Smoked Paprika) and Peperoncino (Italian dried hot pepper) to replicate the flavors in the Calabrian N’duja.  A little finishing of the cooked patties with Marsala or Sherry nicely rounds it all out.I’m such a fan of the sweet /savory foods.  This is one of them.  Serve with bread, or a vegetable or even rice.

TIME: 35 MINUTES                                     SERVES: 2-3

2 lbs. the BEST ITALIAN PORK SAUSAGE MEAT YOU CAN GET (simply slit the casings and remove the meat)  you can use ITALIAN TURKEY SAUSAGE as an alternative.

2 TBS DRIED CRANBERRIES

1 MINCED SHALLOT

3 FRESH SAGE LEAVES, FINELY CHOPPED, plus some whole leaves for garnish

4 TBS MARSALA OR SHERRY

1 TSP. GROUND RED CHILES (or PEPERONCINO)

1 TSP. SPANISH PIMENTON (SPANISH SMOKED PAPRIKA)

(if you want less “heat” from the chiles, go with 1/2 Tsp and replace with 1 tsp of sweet paprika..but use the Pimenton as well.  Paprika is simply an Eastern European word for red peppers)

OLIVE OIL

Mix everything except the olive oil and only use 1 tbs of Marsala or Sherry in a bowl.  Combine till well blended. Let sit for 10 minutes. 401674_3107550370100_1304531591_32244544_484452443_nNow form into 4-6 patties. In a pan, add 2 tbs of olive oil and place on medium heat, and cook the patties until crusty and golden brown on each side, about 6 minutes per side.  Remove the finished patties to a platter and lightly cover with aluminum foil.  Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and deglaze it with the remaining Marsala or Sherry. Add  a little more olive oil and then return the patties to the pan and simply heat them up in the pan sauce, about 2 minutes.  Done.  Garnish with dried cranberries and, although I didn’t when I made them in the picture, I’ve toasted almond pieces and garnished with them too. Sweet, savory, hot, porky, Mediterranean, herby, and with the almonds, crunchy.  This is when food talks back to you and you response, GRAZIE or Thank you.  Happy Cooking!!

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note:  no salt added, why? Sausage is well salted.  Adding salt to these patties would make them way too salty.

 

SICILIAN STYLE SAUSAGE MEATBALL STEW..SPEZZATINO CON POLPETTE DI SALSICCIA

img_3252SPEZZATINO!!!! The Italian word for STEW…although the word STUFATO means stew also, don’t ask, I don’t have an answer for that.  I think SPEZZATINO sounds nicer.  On the island of Sicily they have a SPEZZATINO culture, over in the Palermo region where they stew meatballs with potatoes.  Sounds like heaven.  A few years ago my friend Rose Marie Trapani, a native of the Palermo, Sicily region talked about her Mamma’s Meatball and Potato stew.  I had to make it. I loved everything about it.  In Sicily they also use the term SPEZZATINO AGGRESSATO DI POLPETTE CON PATATE…more new Italian and Sicilian words to increase your culinary vocabulary!! I like!!!  However, the stew I made last night was BASED on the principles of the Spezzatino Aggressato but I must drop AGGRESSATO from my recipe title.  My meatballs in this recipe are made from Sweet Italian Fennel Sausage Meat.  Into the stew I add Broccoli Rabe, Onions, Potatoes, diced Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Borlotti Beans and a nice red wine from Sicily, from REGALEALI, a NERO D’AVOLA.  What flavors in this stew! Notice I say Sicilian Style only because I created this dish in my kitchen with things from my pantry and fridge that went well together, it’s not a bona fide Sicilian dish.  I try to be careful about my Recipe titles. When I had a bowl of the Spezzatino the next day  I added some ricotta to the mix.  WOW. Not only did it taste better like all stews do the second day but the ricotta was a very tasty addition!  I’d advise making this on one day, and serving it the next.  Truly remarkable Italian-Siclian flavors.  It has that “Grandma” taste..are you with me here? Capisci??? Good.  Now we can start to cook.img_3231

First, we make the POLPETTE DI SALSICCE…the Sausage meatballs, made a bit smaller than a Sunday Sauce meatball.

TIME: 1 1/2 HOURS, prep and cooking                              SERVES: 4

1 LB LOOSE ITALIAN SWEET FENNEL SAUSAGE MEAT

1 BEATEN LARGE EGG

1 CUP STALE ITALIAN BREAD, SOAKED IN MILK AND SQUEEZED

2 TBS CHOPPED ITALIAN PARSLEY

1 CLOVE FINELY MINCED GARLIC

1/4 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO OR PROVOLONE OR CACIOCAVALLO CHEESE

1/8 CUP RED WINE ( A RED SICILIAN, LIKE NERO D’AVOLA FROM REGALEALI IS FANTASTIC)

(do not add any salt to these meatballs as the sausage meat is already salted/seasoned and we are adding grated cheese)

Blend the garlic, parsley, bread with the beaten egg.  When combined, add the sausage meat and blend everything until it is well mixed.  Let it sit for 15 minutes covered, then form into small balls.  Fry the balls in Olive Oil. Reserve in a bowl. You will need to cook in batches.  Deglaze the pan with 1/8 cup of the Red Wine scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour this over the meatballs.

for the SPEZZATINO:

2 TBS. OLIVE OIL

1 DICED MEDIUM ONION

6 QUARTERED CREMINI MUSHROOMS

2 SLICED CLOVES OF GARLIC

1 DICED AND SEEDED TOMATO

2 CUPS of GREENS (chopped Swiss Chard, broccoli Rabe, Turnip Tops, Escarole, Spinach)

1 CUP of diced peeled POTATOES

2 CUPS OF COOKED BORLOTTI OR CANNELLINI BEANS

1 CUP OF RED WINE

2 CUPS OF CHICKEN STOCK

SALT, PEPPER TO TASTE

In a large heavy bottom pot heat the olive oil.  Add the onions,mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and then add the potatoes.img_3232 Let this cook for about 10 minutes   stirring frequently. Now add the tomato and the greens. Cook for 5 minutes, Add the garlic and when fragrant (about 2 minutes) add the beans.

img_3233  Mix.  Now add the wine first and bring to a boil.  The aroma is amazing at this point. Stir and then add the chicken stock and add stir. Add the Sausage Meatballs and any of the liquid that has collected in the bowl of sausage balls. img_3234Gently stir and bring to a boil again. Then reduce to a simmer.img_3236Now let this simmer until much of the liquid is reduced.  You want a sort of thick stew here rather than a soup (and that’s why it’s a SPEZZATINO!!!). This process should take about 40 minutes.  Keep an eye on this so it gets to the right consistency.  Frequently stir the pot.  When it’s done let it sit at least 3 hours before serving. Next day is even better.img_3238

Before serving, drizzle lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, peperoncino if you like, and of course grated Parmigiano or Pecorino. A hearty bowl of flavors with a Sicilian Twist.  Potatoes and Meatballs in a stew…Sicilian genius and comfort food.  A few other ingredients and it’s Minestrone meats Sicilian Meatball Stew…fantastico!!!  A nice Sicilian Red, like the Nero D’Avola you used in the Spezzatino goes great with it…img_3241

 

 

 

 

BROCCOLI RABE AND SAUSAGE MEATBALLS WITH ORECCHIETTE

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Chances are, you have seen recipes for broccoli di rabe, a bitter green of the broccoli family, many many times.
Perhaps you have had this delicious vegetable, sauteed with garlic and oil, and other aromatics..or stuffed into
a bread, or paired up with pasta, tradtionally orecchiette (little ears).  This pasta hails from the once dirt poor
regions of Puglia and Basilicata and is merely a mix of flour and water and some deft finger handling.  In our
family, years ago, my Grandmother and her sister in law Caterina Luberto (Zi’Caterin) would spend what seemed
like hours making a cavatelli like orecchiette like pasta and I would stare mesmerized by their quick hand
movements.  I wish I was older and had paid more attention to the intricacies of this pasta production.  Most
supermarkets now carry the factory made orecchiette which is made with the typical pasta recipe used in
most dried macaroni.   It’s good…but not great. The real texture and flavor is from the Bronze pressed Artisinal
or the handmade(best) dried orecchiette from Italy.  The bronze pressed I buy when I can’t find the handmade
ones.  Handmade are more rustic in their shape and texture..the bronze ones are delicious…OK, what are
bronze pressed pastas?  The pasta dough is forced through a special bronze press which roughs up the
exterior of the pasta.  This way, the sauces adhere much better to each piece.  Pricey, yes.  How often are you
eating orecchiette..???  I knew it.  So splurge at the specialty Italian store for a lb. of good orecchiette.  Or
you can find them thru on-line sources.  They usually retail for between 3.99 to 6.99.

Feeling like I was bored with the
usual pairing of sauteed rabe with sausage and orecchiette…I improvised and altered the ingredients..but did
not “change” the ingredients.
Ecco la!  There is the change-up.  I chopped up the broccoli
rabe and added 1/2 of it to sweet fennel sausage meat making meatballs out of them…sauteed them..
then sauteed the rest of the rabe with garlic and oil, a little red chile pepper flakes, then tossed in the pasta and
let it get sort of brown on the edges.  Then added the meatballs and there you have it.

LET’S COOK!
For 6-8 people, use 1 lb. of Orecchiette….cook according to directions, and drain.
Remove the meat from 1 lb. of good Italian Sweet Fennel Sausage in its’ casings.  Add to a bowl.  Add a 1/2 cup
of grated provolone or pecorino, 1 finely minced garlic clove, and 1/2 a bunch of well chopped steamed broccoli
rabe.  Try to not use much of the stem, stick with the tender thinner parts and the leaves.  Add 1/2 tsp. black
pepper. NO SALT!  Remember, the sausage is already salted.  Now add 2 tbs. of breadcrumbs and with your
hands blend well and form into small walnut sized balls.  In some good olive oil, fry these on medium for about
7 minutes on one side, 5 on the other..You are cooking these all the way through.
Let’s stop right here with another idea.
Party season is on its’ way…Holidays and all that (stress and/or fun)…make these as an hors d’ouevres instead
of the usual party meatball.  Sprinkle them with a little cheese and serve with toothpicks or on a platter..nice!

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Ok…sorry for the detour…Add some olive oil to a large pan, heat, add 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp. of red
chile flakes..stir for 30 sec. then add the remaining chopped broccoli rabe…stir then add the pasta and mix
well.  Let the pasta get a little brown in some spots..this should take about 5 minutes. Sitr well, add 2 tbs. of
grated cheese and serve with the meatballs on top.

Check out those crispy edges on the orecchiette…the different flavors and textures in this dish make it
very satisfying.  At the end of the day, I’m feeling good about changing the look of a recipe to make
it a little (or very) different yet staying loyal to the traditional taste and ingredients.  No, you cannot use
turkey sausage,,, no you cannot use spinach…no you cannot use Bowtie pasta.  Stick with the com-
bination that has worked for years and years…Maybe someday I’ll remember Zi’Caterin’s pasta
making technique…

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!

STUFFED MUSHROOMS PIZZAIOLA, MY MOM’S HOLIDAY STAPLE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  I hope that lead picture draws you into this blogpost because not only is it a great dish for you to make, it means so much to me.  STUFFED MUSHROOMS PIZZAIOLA..let’s explore that…what makes it (Something) PIZZAIOLA?  The SAUCE.  Simple.  A blend of crushed Italian Plum Tomatoes, usually out of the can, preferably San Marzanos, then blended with OLIVE OIL, GARLIC, OREGANO, SALT, PEPPER.  That’s it. It’s used on Pizzas in Naples and paired up with other meats or poultry then baked, and that’s the sauce that makes these Stuffed Mushrooms Pizzaiola (meaning in the style of the Pizza Maker’s wife).  While the Pizzaiolo was making the pies, the wife who was the home cook was using the sauce in inventive ways.  Ok, that’s what I think happened so I am standing by that romantic explanation.  More importantly I want you do enjoy something that was a Holiday staple for my family at Thanksgiving and Christmas Day dinner year after year.  These are my mother’s Stuffed Holiday Mushrooms.  Only when making them last night did it occur to me that her recipe contained Pizzaiola sauce.  I love when that happens.  She was Napoletana, the sauce is Napoletana, stuffed vegetables are very Napoletana, it’s a dish that defines my family’s history.  AND it tastes awesome and that is why you want to make them.  Now is this exactly like my mother’s?  Let’s say 85%, I add some other techniques or steps to Mom’s standard Italian Fennel Sausage, pecorino, garlic, herb, and breadcrumb stuffing so this is MY VERSION of Mom’s recipe.  There’s enough of Mom’s recipe in here to make it mostly her’s, soeaster79momI don’t think she’ll be looking down from Heaven on my stove without smiling.  Miss you MOM!! That picture was taken by me Easter Sunday 1979 in our dining room..where all the Holiday Meals and Special occasions went down.  While cooking this last night my kitchen had every smell of the Holidays of my youth.  Happens everytime I make these Mushrooms for Thanksgiving.  Even if we dine elsewhere, I make a tray for home.  Try a Stuffed Mushroom slider sometime. Delicious!!  And the Pizzaiola sauce after baking is further seasoned by the mushrooms themselves and all the flavors in the stuffing.  Mom’s Thankgiving table was the stuff dreams were made of, at least to this kid..Stuffed Mushrooms, Stuffed Artichokes, Antipasto, her roasted red peppers (Holla!!),Finocchio on the table, nuts, dates, figs, fruit, Manicotti, Sausage and Meatballs, Turkey, Stuffing, Broccoli Rabe, “American” Broccoli, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Corn, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans Almondine, Cranberry Sauce..I’m not sure anymore if there was a salad…i’m thinking not…the dinner though would begin with chilled fruit cocktail in a stemed dish..This was as fancy as we got.  She even dressed her turkey, booties, fruits, garnishes, it was heaven.  Of course Italian Pastries but what everyone looked forward to were the pies…lots of them..apple, apple crumb, pumpkin, sweet potato, lemon merengue (my favorite), Cherry, Mince (no one at that one ),pecan, banana cream, chocolate pudding..you get the picture.  If you are at all in tune with food the heightened standard and diverse recipes and preparations during the Holidays is an excuse to do what you are really doing all year.  I love it and I hope you do to regardless of what holidays at year’s end you celebrate or do not.  It’s a time for entertaining.  My mom knew how to entertain, although, she wanted everything cleaned up too quickly…lol.  That tradition I do not perpetuate!  Relax, the mess will still be there tomorrow.  I’m not taking up precious social time to clean up..later for that!

Ready to cook?  I use regular button mushrooms for this..why you ask?  When there are beautiful huge stuffing mushrooms to be had?  Think of all that shows up at the holiday table, there’s usually a high variety of food, some of it very rich.  I’d rather serve a small bite than something that could be it’s own appetizer for a sit down dinner.  Think BIG picture, not just BIG food.

MAKES  50 MUSHROOMS

50 MUSHROOMS, STEMS GENTLY SEPARATED (finely dice the stems)

1 1/2 lbs. loose mix of hot and sweet ITALIAN PORK FENNEL SAUSAGE meat

(or just one type)

3 sliced cloves of garlic

1 large whole clove of GARLIC

Olive Oil

1 tsp. diced PANCETTA

1/4 cup RED WINE

1 tsp.Oregano

1/8 cup GRATED PECORINO ROMANO CHEESE

1/4 cup DICED LOW MOISTURE MOZZARELLA(not fresh made)

1/8 cup PLAIN ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS

1 ITALIAN ROLL, day old preferably..soaked in water, then squeeze out the water

KOSHER SALT

2 TBS. FINELY CHOPPED FRESH ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY

1 CAN (28 OZ) SAN MARZANO TOMATOES OR GOOD ITALIAN PLUM TOMATOES

1/2 TSP FENNEL SEED, SLIGHTLY BRUISED

BLACK PEPPER

Start by making the PIZZAIOLA SAUCE. Simple.  Crush the tomatoes with your hand or run thru the processor or a food mill.  I’m lazy.  I use my hands.  Less clutter and things to wash, but feel free to use whatever you are comfortable with.  Empty it into a mixing bowl.  Add 1 TBS. Olive Oil, I like the taste of Olive Oil, alot..so I like a good Extra Virgin in here.  Feel free to use what you like.  Add 1/2 tsp of Oregano that you RUBBED BETWEEN YOUR HANDS..key technique, you release the oils in the dried oregano..do not use fresh for this. Salt and Pepper to taste..Smash one whole clove of garlic.  Add that..Now blend the ingredients and set it aside.

mushroompizzaiola 007  How beautiful is that!!??  And btw, since this is not cooked before you add it to the mushrooms the type and quality of the tomato is very very important.  Sometimes you can help out not so good tomatoes by cooking them in a sauce.  Not so with this Pizzaiola method.  The bright fresh taste of the tomato is highlighted in this sauce.  No 1.99 tomatoes here, they should cost you at least $ 2.50 or more.  Make that mental note.

Now the stuffing…it’s a Red Wine Braised Italian Sausage stuffing with some additions.let’s have fun with this.  In a large heavy pan for caramelization! add a little olive oil.  Keep on medium heat and add the pancetta.  When that is somewhat clear and has a little color on it add the sausage.  Let it cook on one side for at least 8 minutes or until it’s browned, then chop it with a spatula and turn the sausage meat so it now will evenly brown.  Let this cook for 5 minutes. Now add the sliced garlic.  Resist the urge to season at this point because sausage meat is well seasoned and soon we will be adding cheese to this..more salt.  You can always add salt, you can’t ever remove it, so trust me here. Now add the chopped stems and blend in well.  After about 2 minutes add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes then add the wine.  What an aroma you are now getting!! mushroompizzaiola 002 Let this simmer for at least 10 minutes.  If the wine evaporates before that just add a touch more.  This process infuses that tasty sausage with the wine flavor.  It’s delicious!  OK, take a piece out for yourself…are you smiling???  After 10 minutes, remove from the heat and let this cool down for at least 20 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl, add the remaining oregano, the breadcrumbs,the bread, all the cheeses, the parsley, and mix together. Now add the sausage mushroom mix and 2 tbs of that Pizzaoila sauce you made…blend well.  It’s ready when it looks like this:mushroompizzaiola 003  Then gently stuff each mushroom cap with the stuffing, just to the top, if there’s left over just add a little more to some.mushroompizzaiola 005  Place them into a baking/roasting pan that you’ve drizzled with some olive oil.  Next step…pre heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Drizzle the Pizzaiola sauce around and over the mushrooms, another drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of some grated Pecorino Romano.mushroompizzaiola 010  You really have to be getting excited now.  Please say you are!!  Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.  At the 10 minute mark, rotate the pan.  Why?  I believe most ovens have hot spots so this just helps with an even cooking of the pan.  They are done when the mushrooms are soft.  Let them sit for about  5 minutes before serving and these reheat REAL well.  Here’s the finished product:

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A wonderful starter to a big Holiday meal, or a side, or , away from the Holidays make this and serve with pasta..the sauce needs good bread for dipping or wonderful on pasta.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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!!

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