Tag Archives: COOKING WITH WINE

POLPETTINE DI SALSICCE E MANZO, BEEF AND SAUSAGE SMALL MEATBALLS WITH SAGE, WINE, PARMIGIANO

POLPETTINE!!! I can’t get enough of these meatballs..the smaller type, from any cuisine anywhere in the world.  There are HUNDREDS of versions and every so often I create my own version based on what’s in the fridge.  POLPETTINE DI SALSICCE E MANZO CON SALVIA, VINO, E PARMIGIANO is just one of them.  How delicious does food sound in other languages?  I think very.  MINI MEATBALLS OF ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND GROUND BEEF WITH SAGE, RED WINE AND PARMIGIANO.  Sounds better in Italian don’t you think?  I’m not reinventing the wheel here, I ‘m creating using a specific traditional flavor combination.  Beef and Sausage are commonly used in meatball making.  Sage is so earthy and Parmigiano’s nutty complex flavor combined with a simmer in red wine, olive oil and garlic are simply amazing together.  Towards the end I added a spoonful of crushed tomato just to balance it all out but not turning it into a pan of meat balls in sugo di pomodoro. Let’s create this delicious pan in your kitchen now shall we?  ANDIAMO.

FOR 24 POLPETTINE:

1/2 LB. FRESH ITALIAN PORK SAUSAGE MEAT (NO FENNEL IS POSSIBLE)

1/2 LB. FRESH GROUND CHUCK BEEF (80% LEAN, 20 % FAT)

1/2 CUP PLAIN ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS SOAKED IN 3 TBS. HEAVY CREAM

1 LARGE OR JUMBO EGG BEATEN

2 FRESH SAGE LEAVES FINELY MINCED

2 CLOVES FRESH GARLIC FINELY MINCED

1/4 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PARMIGIANO REGGIANO

1/4 TSP. GROUND BLACK PEPPER

NO SALT ADDED BECAUSE THE COMBO OF THE SAUSAGE MEAT AND THE PARMIGIANO WILL ADD THE SALTINESS TO THE POLPETTINE

1/3 CUP RED WINE

1/3 CUP CHICKEN STOCK

PINCH OF SEA OR KOSHER SALT

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

1 TBS. CRUSHED ITALIAN TOMATOES

A FEW EXTRA SAGE LEAVES

1 PEELED FRESH GARLIC CLOVE

In a large stainless steel mixing bowl combine all the ingredients up to the Red Wine.  Mix well, but just until it’s a homogenized mixture. Roll into small walnut sized balls.  Place on a tray.  In a large wide frying pan heat 2 tbs. of the olive oil and place as many meatballs as you can WITHOUT them touching each other.  You may have to do this in 2 batches.  This recipe makes around 24 meatballs. Brown the meatballs on all sides.  Remove to a platter until you’ve finished frying them all.  Add one more TBS of Olive Oil and the Garlic clove.  Let this get fragrant and then add the wine and deglaze the pan.  Get all the bits off the bottom of the pan and then add 1/3 cup of Chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, then add the meatballs all in.  Let them simmer for 15 minutes on medium/low.  When you see most of the liquid is reduced, you’re almost done.  Stir in the tomato.  Pinch of salt.  Remove to a serving platter and add a nice amount of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and garnish with sage leaves. OR, do it all right out of the pan (as shown in the picture).  

Now you’re done.   Serve as is, with bread to sop up those juices.  Accompany with a side of sauteed greens like Broccoli Rabe or Escarole.  Maybe some roasted potatoes or a seasoned Rice. 

TORTELLINI DELLA NONNA, my wife’s version..with Prosciutto Cotto, Peas, Cream, and Parmigiano-Reggiano

dellanonna 006Things go in and out of fashion in all facets of human life.  Music, Clothing, Styles, FOOD, etc.  Some dishes have a white hot flash in the pan #hashtagged Social Media celebrity status life for a few months, years, decades while others are looked back on with a scratch of the head or maybe a sentimental hug.  Where do I place this dish that was one of the most popular ItalianAmerican restaurant dishes in the late 70’s-early 80’s?  TORTELLINI DELLA NONNA.  That era boasted a sauce called DELLA NONNA, which in true Italian fashion can point to 1000 things at the same time.  None of which are even closely related but the name is a term of endearment given by a cook to a dish when it evokes feelings of one’s Nonna, or Grandmother.  The French term many dishes “Gran Mere” in the same way.  Something your Grandmother made, or close to it, however in my case, My Grandmothers were both in Italy (one in Avellino and one in Sicily).  There was no cream saucy pasta being made in their kitchens.  That was restaurant food or the food of Central and Northern Italy.  To them, those regions were the same as saying “Austria,  Norway, or the North Pole”.  dellanonna 006  Even the use of Tortellini was unheard of in my family’s kitchens.  This was a pasta introduced to the ItalianAmericans of southern Italian ancestry via the American Italian restaurant.  Without those “Northern Italian” restaurants introducing these foods and dishes from Italy’s Central and Northern regions unless we travelled there, we’d be unaware of the complete treasures of the full Italian landscape.  So much food, So little time!!  During those years I mentioned one could order these dishes and recipes would be posted in magazines and in cookbooks or written down on a napkin by a cook in a restaurant to diners interested in making the dish at home.  I’m not sure when or how my wife Debi got this recipe.  Did I give it to her?  I can’t take credit for that. She’s not sure but maybe one day we’ll both remember.  She loved the dish, although prefers it with Cappellini.  Me?  I prefer it with Tortellini.  I feel it just married best with that. She enjoys Cappellini with everything.  After 42 years with her I’m not going to change her pasta eating habits no matter how hard I’ve tried. 00 There she is, our little Della Nonna Sauce maker with our two daughters. So consider this recipe a compromise, like any good marriage.  Her sauce with my pasta choice.   I hope you love her recipe for Della Nonna Sauce as much as I love her….and her sauce.

Time: about 1 hour              Serves: 4

 

1 lb. Cheese or Cheese and Spinach Tortellini

2 1/2 TBS. UNSALTED BUTTER

8 OZ. PROSCIUTTO COTTO (COOKED SLICING HAM), DICED SMALL

1 LARGE FINELY DICED SHALLOT

1/8  CUP VERMOUTH

1 1/2 CUPS HEAVY CREAM, ORGANIC WOULD BE OPTIMAL

1 CUP FROZEN PEAS

3 FRESH BASIL LEAVES

KOSHER SALT,  FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER

3/4  CUP GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO OR ASIAGO, GRATE IT FINELY

EXTRA PARMIGIANO/ASIAGO FOR TOPPING

1 LB. TORTELLINI OR TORTELLONI FILLED WITH SPINACH AND RICOTTA OR PROSCIUTTO, COOK TILL AL DENTE.

 

Start with melting the butter in a wide high sided heavy pan/skillet.  Add the shallots and season with some salt and pepper.  Do not let them brown, takes about 2 minutes.  Now add the ham and cook for about 3 minutes, moving the meat around in the pan.  Add the wine and let this cook for 5 minutes.  Now add the heavy cream and gently stir until all is mixed. Add a few basil leaves and the peas.

Let this simmer for 20 minutes stirring frequently.  The sauce “transitions” from a loose liquid into a thicker liquid.   KEEP STIRRING!!  Now add the tortellini and coat well.  Add the grated Parmigiano and blend it into the pasta.  Taste.  If it needs more seasoning, add more cheese, or more salt (never both) and a nice grinding of the pepper.  Blend.  dellanonna 005How does that look?????  And it tastes even better.  Now here’s my style of saucing this pasta, there will not be a pool of sauce in the bottom of the bowl.  I make this like these pastas are made in Italy.  With a wonderful coating of the sauce on the pasta, not enough for the pasta to go swimming.  If you like more “sauce” in your bowl, increase the Heavy cream to 2 full cups.  So if you want my wife to cook for you, this is basically her recipe with a few of my notes thrown in.  Make no mistake, I’m the daily cook in the house, she had zero interest in cooking. Which is another reason why we are together for so long, the kitchen is mine. LOL. When she does decide to cook I enjoy my plate of Tortellini and she enjoys her Angel Hair.  All the ingredients in this dish work well together, like any good marriage.  Happy Cooking.

CHICKEN SCAMPI STYLE

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CHICKEN SCAMPI STYLE BY A FOOD OBSESSION

One of the most delicious recipe styles is “SCAMPI STYLE”.  Generally it means a saute’ of Shrimp but the style can also be used on other seafood and poultry.  Chicken has that amazing ability to retain it’s distinctive poultry flavor yet take on all the flavors you’re cooking it with.  Versatile is the word! Garlic, Olive Oil, a bit of Butter, Wine, Lemon, and Parsley are the typical ingredients in the “sauce” that is created for Shrimp Scampi. Just replace the Shrimp with Chicken, in this case cut pieces of Boneless Chicken Breast.  OK, let A FOOD OBSESSION voice his very opinionated OPINION on white meat chicken.  It’s delicious when you are using good chicken (I use Organic chicken) and when you season it well and don’t overcook it.  Oh I like thigh meat and bone in thigh pieces for various Chicken Dishes as they will perform better in certain recipes than White meat, especially off the bone.  This is a showcase recipe for the unjustly maligned Boneless breast.  Sorry, you’re not getting FOODIE points from me if you bash white meat chicken..lol. Everything has it’s place.  By the way, I once tried this preparation with boneless thighs.  There’s a reason why THEY aren’t in the picture above.  Key to any dish being its best is the quality of the underlying ingredients.  Use that rule and your dishes will excel!!  Now talking to one of my inner food circle friends, he thought this dish sounded a bit like his idea of Lemon Chicken.  I make Lemon Chicken about 1000 ways as does everyone else, it’s one of those recipes that’s just a name of any recipe of chicken and lemons.  I’m pretty much keeping to the Scampi style here so I gave this that name.  Now there are some Chicken Scampi recipes on the WEB that simply have nothing to do with the agreed on recipe or method of SCAMPI STYLE.  Sauteed Peppers and Onions in the mix do not a Scampi make.  Call me closed minded but that would be Chicken with Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Wine, etc.  Next order of Shrimp Scampi you get, check to see if it comes loaded down with peppers and onions (hello, sometimes restaurants do that just to bulk up a dish…so, just putting that out there).  Don’t confuse my recipe with the one that comes from that ItalianAmerican chain restaurant…just saying.  What would you serve it with?  As much as I love Pasta this dish LOVES Rice or oven roasted potatoes.  Those would be my choices, you like the Pasta? use the Pasta. Quinoa, CousCous..Israel CousCous..all go nicely too.  The choice is yours…now let’s cook!

TIME: 1 hour   SERVES: 4

Ingredients:

4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts cut into 3 pieces and lightly pounded
1 CUP Seasoned  All Purpose Flour (Seasoned With Salt, Pepper, Granulated Garlic)
4 Tablespoons  EXTRA VIRGIN Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic, SLICED THIN or MINCED
1 Cup White Wine
Juice From 1 Lemon,  5 thin lemon slices, for garnish.
1 Cup  ORGANIC LOW SODIUM Chicken Broth, preferably homemade
1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh ITALIAN FLAT LEAF Parsley, plus some sprigs for garnish
Kosher Salt , Fresh Ground Black Pepper

SPLURGE HERE:  3 TBS. of EUROPEAN BUTTER, UNSALTED for finishing the sauce.  (no interest in the Euro-Butter?  ok, any unsalted butter will do. But that EuroButter….)

This recipe works best with pounding the chicken pieces.  Pound them to about 1/4 inch, no thicker.  Dredge them in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess.  AFO NOTE: why are we flouring them?  creates a moister chicken at the end of the saute’, helps create some body for the pan sauce without making it “thick”.  In a wide pan, add the olive oil and heat. Saute’ the chicken for about 4 minutes per side, till golden.chicscampi 025

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chicken dredged, going into the heated olive oil and browning for 8 minutes.

Remove the chicken which you’ve cooked in batches  ( AFO NOTE: crowding creates cooking chaos!!! the oil will drop in temp, the touching of the chicken will create steam pockets and there will be no browning.  Are you in a race?  OK, good, take your time cooking.  That’s what makes a dish..attention paid to all the details!!!) to a bowl or platter and tent with foil.

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That’s what the chicken should look like after it’s been sauteed.

Deglaze the pan with a little of the White Wine and pour it over the chicken.  Now add 2 tbs. of ExtraVirgin Olive oil to the pan and when it’s heated add the garlic and saute’ just till fragrant, only takes about 1 minute.chicscampi 020 To this add the wine and the broth, pinch of salt, and when reduced by 1/4 add the chicken back to the pan. Bring this to a boil then IMMEDIATELY reduce to a simmer.  Let this cook for only about 4 minutes then add the Lemon juice and the parsley.  Mix.  The move the chicken to the sides of the pan giving you a small area in the center to melt in the butter. As soon as it’s melted (takes only seconds) make sure it’s incorporated into the whole pan and all the chicken is coated.  Remove from the heat. Gently mix in the parsley and season to taste with the salt and pepper.

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how good does that? look..oh, wait..it’s going to look even better!!

Serve immediately.  AFO NOTE:  if you over heat the butter, it separates immediately and doesn’t thicken your sauce. Make sure you don’t over heat it!

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I told you it would look even better.  Thin lemon slices and parsley garnish this dish.

Enjoy your CHICKEN SCAMPI STYLE…btw, always test the chicken for it being fully cooked by slicing into a piece, it should be easy to slice into, the juices should run clear.

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and there’s the money shot..all dressed up and somewhere to go…into your mouth!! That’s the Chicken Scampi served over Rice and Broccoli Rabe, with a side of Zucchini Marinara.

 

CHICKEN PROVOLONE MEATBALLS AS A MAIN COURSE OR APP

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These are not to be confused with a meatball you drop into tomato sauce, please.  I’ll never forget that dark day when my mother upon the advice of her nutritionist switched from beef and pork meatballs for her Sunday sauce to turkey or chicken.  Now in theory the nutritionist was giving some good healthy advice..less red meat, less fatty meat, more lean poultry.  I get it.  The piece that my dear late mom was never told by the good doctor was that unless it’s 100% white meat and/or natural or organic free range etc, that ground poultry was close to or at least as high in many of the things she was trying to avoid.  Are you shocked?  Will you run now to Foodbabe (not a fan, just saying) to see if this is correct?  I’ll help you out..this is why..when something is termed ground chicken or turkey it means ANY part of the bird is used..like the dark meat..yes, succulent and flavorful, but fatty.  It means skin, yes, delicious and wonderful on a roasted or fried bird, but when you are buying that ground poultry is mixed up into the meat and basically is fatty filler.  Look closely at that label.  BROTH and additives along with water are added and hello..that means salt.  Salt is not the enemy, i’m not advocating that, but if you are trying to stay “lean” or be more healthy, ground turkey for example is loaded with extra “flavorings”.  A grind of beef is generally just ground beef.  Pound for pound you are buying a processed product…so does this mean I’m anti-ground poultry?  Absolutely not.  Great product when you are buying it in it’s simply ground form.  Unfortunately as with most of our American accessible food supply, it’s not that easy to find and generally ridiculously priced.  Not a fair way to play, but, it is what it is.  So when does A FOOD OBSESSION use ground poultry?  Lots of ways, for apps, for stuffings, for breakfast sausages, for meatloaves, and for meatballs..but not with tomato sauce unless it’s a Mexican style sauce.  The most popular ITALIAN way of eating meatballs is as a main course and only certain regions pair them with a sauce and pasta meal.  Let this blog post be a detour from the usual, i love taking detours, there’s a world of different out there to explore!  This recipe is a common type of meatball dish which is served with greens, a salad, potatoes, usually roasted in olive oil, garlic, and rosemary or some herbed raw tomatoes, especially if they are in season.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  For this meal I paired it with some beautifully colored and ripe local heirloom tomatoes simply dressed with extra virgin OLIVE OIL, fresh OREGANO,  ground BLACK PEPPER and SEA SALT.  Let’s go into the kitchen and get this Chicken Meatballs (POLPETTE DI POLLO) started and PLEASE, this is not the WAY TO MAKE CHICKEN MEATBALLS, it’s ONE of virtually an endless combinations to make an endless number of meatballs.

MAKES: 20 meatballs                            TIME:  40 minutes

1 lb GROUND 100% ORGANIC  OR NATURAL CHICKEN, WHITE MEAT OR A BLEND (BLEND IS BETTER ALL AROUND, TRUST ME)

1/4 CUP GRATED PROVOLONE CHEESE (FROM ITALY, NOT DOMESTIC AND SHARP)

1/8 CUP WHOLE MILK RICOTTA

1 FINELY MINCED CLOVE OF GARLIC

3 TABLESPOONS ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS, MOISTENED WITH A LITTLE WHITE WINE

2 FRESH EGGS, BEATEN WITH BLACK PEPPER, PINCH OF SALT, 3 TBS. FINELY MINCED PARSLEY

1 TSP. FRESH CHOPPED BASIL

OLIVE OIL

WHITE WINE

1 WHOLE CLOVE OF GARLIC

FLOUR FOR DREDGING

at least 10 WHOLE BASIL LEAVES

In a large bowl, blend the ricotta, provolone, breadcrumbs, eggs, and basil together.  Then add the ground poultry.  Do not over blend.  Form into 20 medium sized meatballs, about the size of a large walnut.    Roll the balls in sifted flour shake off excess.  Chill for 10 minutes.  In a skillet add 1  1/2 tbs. olive oil and heat on medium.  Smash that clove of garlic and add it too the pan. Remove when it just begins to turn golden.  Now in batches depending on the size of your pan gently fry the meatballs till browned on all sides, remember this is chicken…so this  should take about 10 minutes per batch.  If you find the meatballs are getting too brown your heat is too high.  Reduce.  They should look like this before you remove them:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Toss a few basil leaves over them..then discard (why? it’s just flavor for now, we’ll return to the basil shortly). Keep the finished balls warm in on a covered plate there is one more step.  When you are done frying the balls, add a little more olive oil, then deglaze the pan with about 1/8 cup of White Wine, or Vermouth, or Marsala and bring to a boil, then simmer. Add the meatballs gently to the pan and let this simmer until the wine is pretty much evaporated.  Let those chicken balls (sounds dirty) soak up all that flavor.  Takes another 10 minutes.  Let them sit for 5 minutes before serving and drizzle extra virgin olive oil over them, coating them so they look “glazed”.  Serve with more basil leaves on top.  NICE!!!  Happy Cooking!!

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PASTA FOR EVERYONE…ORECCHIETTE, GREENS, AND CHICK PEAS..SIMPLE GOODNESS

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Another PASTA post from A FOOD OBSESSION, get used to it, there are more to come but for now let’s entertain ourselves by cooking this delicious plate.  It’s a blend of all good things and along with maybe a tomato salad, some olives and cheese it’s a great meal.  No need to have anything else with this, I promise you will be satisfied.  I’ve taken some hardcore and basic Southern Italian ingredients and turned them into a quick (relatively) dish that will wow your guests as part of a long sideboard of treats in the afternoon or at a weeknight dinner.  Intrigued?  Good, I love grabbing your attention.  Orecchiette are “little ears”, a Southern Italian pasta that is made 2 ways, originally it’s a blend of flour and water and handmade.  The other way is using regular pasta dough and running it through a machine to make the shape.  Whichever type you have available should be the one you use, I will not judge.   The cooked pasta gets tossed with a saute’ of cooked chick peas (CECI in Italian, GARBANZO in Spanish), chopped bitter greens like broccoli rabe or spinach, garlic, olive oil, peperoncino and wine.  The Cheese at the end it optional.  Not for me though, it’s a requirement but A FOOD OBSESSION realizes that there’s all types of eaters out there and so I’m writing this blog to give omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans all a tasty dish to make.  Personally, I could eat a bowl of pasta or macaroni with tomato sauce every night, I realize we all don’t share in loving that.  So, here’s something that can stretch your pantry items and create a full meal for you.  Ready to cook?  Get your apron and for the Love of Julia Child, please wash your hands!  OK, here’s my ORECCHIETTE CON VERDURE E CECI.

FOR 4-6                                TIME: about 1/2 hour

1 lb. Orecchiette, cooked al dente according to package directions.  Find a brand made in Italy.  Be authentic.

3 sliced cloves of GARLIC (sounds like a lot but you are flavoring pasta and beans as well as the greens, needs some punch (FORZA AGLIO!!)

3 tbs. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

1 1/2 cups chopped BROCCOLI RABE or SPINACH, or DANDELIONS, or SWISS CHARD, or ESCAROLE…

salt, peperoncino

1 filet of ANCHOVY (ok, ok, you hate anchovies, i get it, i hate liver..so, this is optional except for me, I will use it)

shot glass of WHITE WINE

2 cups of cooked CHICK PEAS (if using canned please rinse, then drain in a colander)

1/8 cup grated PECORINO ROMANO or CACIOCAVALLO

In a large skillet with high sides or a dutch oven heat the olive oil, then add the garlic,(Anchony also if you are using it) pinch of salt, peperoncino and then the greens an saute’ for 5 minutes.  Then add the wine and then the beans. Blend well and let this cook for 3 minutes. Then add the orecchiette.  When you are draining the pasta reserve about 1/8  cup of the cooking water.  Add a little to the pan after you’ve added all the ingredients and let this cook down.  Add more water or wine if you want it “more liquidy” and loose, I like it more on the drier side so watch the amount of water you are using.  At the end of cooking which should be no more than 4 minutes, remove from the heat.  Add 1/8 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Caciocavallo and toss throughly.  Now TASTE IT.  Does it need more salt or peperoncino?  Here is when you do that, not before you added the cheese.  Finish by drizzling with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and cheese …always have more cheese on the side for those of us who crave it on our pasta.   Serve and enjoy.

If you like your greens more well done, steam them prior to adding to the mix, a little note here…soft greens and vegetables are traditional hallmarks of Italian cuisine.  Crunchy, al dente vibrantly colored vegetables are a more modern approach to cooking.  Pick your choice.

 

For Vegetarians this dish works without the anchovy and for Vegans omit the anchovy and the cheese. For those who don’t like anchovies just don’t use them at all.