Category Archives: VEAL

SAN MARZANO COCKTAIL MEATBALLS…

007Time 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

SEA SALT

PEPERONCINO

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!!!

 

 

 

 

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STUFFED ESCAROLE NAPLES STYLE gone ITALIAN-AMERICAN

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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,
Ziti.

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
20-25 minutes.

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.

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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!!

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MORE MEATBALL MADNESS..VEAL AND LEMON POLPETTINE WITH GRAPE TOMATOES

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If you plan on coming on this culinary ride with me just be warned, I love meatballs in every shape, size, meats or other ingredients, any cuisine, but of course I’m going to always fall back onto my Italian roots.  As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs open your mind to the reality of the Italian meatball, it’s not one type or recipe.  Most likely when you hear the word you are seeing the Sunday Sauce type served up with pasta.  Very delicious, everyone loves them.  However there’s a bunch of regional varieties that are sure to become a welcome addition to your recipe file.  Meatballs are served as their own main course, along with vegetables and potatoes.  In Italy the pasta will always come as a PRIMO and be a course before the SECONDO, or second course.  This recipe is a mix of different types of this POLPETTINE which is made delicious with the addition of ground Mortadella and lemon and it’s more of an Italian Salisbury steak, a patted down small oval rather than a ball.  Don’t be confused my friend, it’s all good.  Very good!  Years ago I had a similar dish which I was told was from the Abruzzo , a region in Central Italy.  I’ve also heard that this type might be found in Sicily OR Tuscany. Either way it’s moist, full of flavor and very very satisfying.  Ready to cook?  I am.  Let’s GO!!

SERVES:  4-5                                    TIME: 1 HOUR

1 LB. GROUND  VEAL

1/4 LB. FINELY CHOPPED MORTADELLA

1 LARGE BEATEN EGG

1 MINCED CLOVE OF GARLIC

4 SLICES OF GOOD WHITE BREAD OR 1/2 CUP STALE CRUST REMOVED ITALIAN BREAD, SOAKED IN MILK, THEN  SQUEEZE  THE MILK OUT.

1/2 CUP PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO

1 TSP. LEMON ZEST

JUICE OF ONE LEMON

2 TBS. OF CHOPPED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY

SALT, FRESH GROUND PEPPER

PINCH OF GROUND NUTMEG

OLIVE OIL

sifted FLOUR (about 3 tbs)

1 PT. SLICED CHERRY OR GRAPE TOMATOES

3 SLICED CLOVES OF GARLIC

JUICE OF 2 LEMONS

1 TBS. SALT CURED CAPERS

2 TBS. VERMOUTH

SALT, PEPPER

3 sprigs FRESH OREGANO

ADD THE CHEESE, GARLIC, PEPPER, NUTMEG, ABOUT 1/4 TSP. SALT, LEMON ZEST AND JUICE ALL WITH THE EGG. Then using your hands mix the bread in followed by the ground mortadella and ground veal.  Continue to mix until it’s all well blended.  Form into about 8-10 patties no more than 2 1/2 inches long.  Dredge on all sides in unseasoned unbleached flour. Let sit for a moment.  In a large skillet heat about 1 1/2 tbs. olive oil and gently brown the POLPETTINE, about 5 minutes per side.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Don’t crowd the pan and don’t rush this!! Have a glass of Vermouth for yourself, just sayin. Relax. Cooking is fun.  You should have fun.  I want you to have fun!  I’m having fun so you should too!  Remove the polpettone to a platter and cover with foil.  Add a little more olive oil to the pan and OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAadd the garlic and when they are just above golden, like in 2 minutes then add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil then reduce for 3 minutes.  Now add the polpettine back into the pan and make sure the sauce has covered all sides of meat. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For whatever reason I didn’t take a pic of the polpettone in the pan, but  let this cook for at least 8 minutes.  Now add the juice of 2 lemons and the capers.  Check for seasoning, adjust if possible.  Let this cook now on low until the juice is reduced by 1/2.  Then you are done!  Garnish the platter with fresh oregano.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Of course I’m thinking I”m the pro food stylist for this photo shoot (lol..hardly any of that..I just had radicchio in the fridge so it became a bed for the polpettone.  Arrange on a plate and coat the polpettone with tomatoes and garlic, there should not be a ton of sauce..but it’s deliciously concentrated. The egg, cheese, and the soaked bread plus the mortadella add moisture to the patties and they do not dry out.  Wanna see inside of one?? Ok. Here is it—>OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Shoe String or Thin Cut French fries and a plate of sauteed greens goes great with this dish.  A crisp white wine, or sparkling water with lemon are a great accompaniment for the Polpettine.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Doesn’t that look good?? Believe me yet about the world of meatballs?  And they are NOT all Italian either!  More to come…

Happy Cooking for now and enjoy the Lemon Veal Polpettine!  I love when you are cooking with me!!