Italy is loaded with wonderful vegetable combo dishes that serve either as antipasto…..as a contorno (side dish) or as a secondo or primo…first or second course. Many of these regional dishes are even amazing as sandwich fillers. Growing up Pepper and Onions and Potatoes was not an uncommon dish that would be placed in Italian bread. Long Hots, Sweet peppers, endless possibilities. In Calabria in Italy’s deep South this melange’ of Potatoes with a mix of Sweet and Hot Peppers, garlic, onions, good olive oil, herbs and it’s sort of national “regional” thing. Every Calabrian will probably make it a little different and every cook/chef will add their own twist or style to it. It’s pretty basic WHICH is one of the hallmarks of Italian Cuisine. Out of a few GOOD, WELL SOURCED ingredients comes a dish with amazing flavor. Try it as a side or addition to grilled sausage, meat, poultry or seafood items. Fantastic.
PIPI E PATATE FOR 4 TAKES 1 HOUR 15 MINUTES APPROX
2 SLICED AND CORED CUBANELLE (ITALIAN FRYING PEPPERS)
2 SLICED AND CORED RED BELL PEPPERS
2 SLICED AND CORED ITALIAN LONG HOTS OR LONG RED OR GREEN HOT PEPPER
5 PEELED AND SLICED MEDIUM SIZED POTATOES
1/2 SLICED RED ONION
2 CLOVES OF GARLIC, CUT IN HALF
1/2 CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
PINCH OF GOOD ITALIAN OREGANO
SEA SALT OR KOSHER SALT
1/8 CUP of WHITE WINE
1/8 tsp DRIED CALABRIAN CHILE (or any good crushed hot pepper flakes)
In a dutch oven or heavy pan, add the olive oil and heat. Add the potatoes, season with salt, and cook over medium heat. After 8 minutes add the onions and cook until they start to soften. Now add the peppers, pinch of Oregano, and raise the heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt then add the garlic. After 5 minutes, add the wine and cover for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated and you’re left with the flavored oil. Taste for seasoning and make sure the Potatoes are tender and the peppers are like velvet. Add the Calabrian Chile and you are done. HAPPY COOKING!!! I want a sangwich of this right now!!!!
IMPANATE…your Italian culinary word of the day. Basically it means coated in breadcrumbs, like when you fry something like a Milanese, or when you top with a layer of breadcrumbs. This is the topped style. It’s a variant of ItalianAmerican Shrimp Scampi but Impanati i make a little different, yet it’s basically the same ingredients all baked together. Olive oil, then seasoned shrimp, then chopped garlic, then white wine, then a layer of seasoned breadcrumbs and minced fresh basil, then dot with butter and into a hot oven for not too long. It comes out of the oven hot and bubbly, then a squeeze of fresh lemon and serve. There’s the whole dealio. I’d eat anything treated with breadcrumbs in one or another form. Maybe it’s my Southern Italian DNA, there’s really no breadcrumbed dish that I don’t love. This is one of them for sure. I can tell you how to cook this since it’s my recipe I’ve created but I can’t dictate the shrimp you should be buying. I CAN however tell you that for this and almost all Shrimp dishes I cook I seek out never Frozen, fresh smelling Wild caught Shrimp from the USA. I realize that’s not an option for everyone. My second choice is wild caught or sustainably farmed frozen shrimp from safe waters. Places like Whole Foods usually carry those, or reputable seafood markets. I get my fresh shrimp at local seafood markets or my local Shop Rite. The hardest part of this dish is simply cleaning and deviening the shrimp. It moves very quickly after that. I love placing 8 shrimp in those baking dishes I have. Looks so much like a good seafood restaurant style. Family background note on that picture. As always you should bake items on a larger tray just to catch any bubbling up. Notice in the picture the simple pizza pan they are on. I baked them on the pan. No mess and keeps the bottom of your oven clean. The pizza pan itself could be 75 years old or so. It was given to my mom from her Dad, Grandpa Innocenzo Scaramuzzi, and was given to him by his brother in law, my Great Uncle Pasquale Pucillo. I never met Great Uncle Patsy, he passed away on the day I was born. This pizza pan was from his restaurant bar in Staten Island, NYC on Manor Road. I believe the name of the place was the Blue Manor. Family stories tell me he was a good cook along with his wife, Great Aunt Maria Giuseppe Scaramuzzi Pucillo. Whenever my mom made a homemade pizza she used this pan. Bringing the family history into my kitchen makes my dishes taste even better.
GAMBERI IMPANATI AL FORNO
SERVES 4 TIME: 1 1/2 HOURS
2 POUNDS 16-20 SHRIMP, PEELED AND DEVEINED (SAVE THOSE SHELLS FOR SHRIMP STOCK, TIGHTLY WRAP AND POP IN THE FREEZER FOR LATER USE)
4 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL
3 TABLESPOONS DRY WHITE ITALIAN WINE
4 THIN SLICED GARLIC CLOVES
1/2 CUP DRIED ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS
1/8 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO ROMANO
4 MINCED FRESH BASIL LEAVES
1/2 TSP SWEET PAPRIKA
1 STICK BUTTER, CUT INTO CUBES
PREHEAT your oven to 425 degrees F. Pat your shrimp dry then season with salt and black pepper. Combine the breadcrumbs, pecorino, salt, pepper to taste, paprika and basil together. Blend Well. In a square or round gratin dish, or smaller ones, add the olive oil to the bottom of the pan(s). Place the shrimp in tail side up. Scatter the garlic over the tops of the shrimp. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the wine. Then lightly pat the breadcrumbs on top of everything. Dot the top of the dish with a sprinkle of grated cheese, a little paprika, and evenly place the butter around. Into the oven for 10-12 minutes. I like to let it go for 6 minutes, then I rotate the pan and give it another 5-6 minutes or so, just till it’s bubbly and browned on to. Remove from the oven. While it’s bubbling squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top. The aroma will get you wild. It’s Amazing!! Let it sit for 2 minutes, then serve immediately with…..steamed rice, that’s my favorite accompaniment. A sauteed or steamed green vegetable. Bread to sop up the buttery shrimpy garlicky juices. Enjoy.
Summertime in New Jersey means zucchini. Bumper crops of them. Everyone with a home garden grows them and the stores are overflowing with locally grown boxes of this versatile squash. Italians and Greeks love cooking with them. The recipes are endless. Clearly, for easy and relaxing summerentertaining this is a host’s dream. The day before I picked a nice bunch of fresh mint (spearmint) from my garden. Zucchini and mint are a very Mediterranean pairing, especially in Sicily and in Greece. I had some Feta cheese and there you go…a dish is born. Add some sunny lemons for a real Mediterranean freshness. Are you exhausted with grilled vegetables? I am,
call me blasphemous, but most times they are not grilled enough or burnt, and loaded down with balsamic vinegar and too much oil. Not a fan of the strongly acidic and flavored balsamic with charred vegetables, the flavors are too heavy for me. (I can see the hate mail now…)Instead of grilling, I decided to oven roast the zucchini slices and marinate them over night in fresh lemon and mint with a little garlic…topping it with feta…a platter of Summer sunshine reminiscent of a Summer’s day in the Greek Islands.. It brings blue skies, bright Mediterranean sun, white washed stucco houses clinging to the side of an ancient volcano, blue painted domes that blend in with both the sea and the sky…magic. All this from a bag of local zucchini.
Start with 5 zucchini. Slice them into rounds, about 3/8 of an inch thick, any thinner, they will just fall apart on you. In a large stainless steel bowl, add the zucchini along with 1/8cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (look for Greek Olive oil for a more “authentic” flavor), 1 tsp. ground allspice, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper. Toss. Pre- heat an oven to 400 degrees F. In a large baking pan, arrange the zucchini without overlapping. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them, bake for addtional 6 minutes, turn the oven off, and leave them in for another 5 minutes. check for times though, You may need to adjust for your oven. Don’t let them burn, they should have a nice roasted bottom, then when you turn them over, they should be soft to the touch.gently place them into a bowl after they have cooled for at least 15 minutes. Mix together the juice of one large fresh lemon, 1 finely minced clove of garlic, 2 leavy sprigs of fresh mint, a pinch of salt, and a good amount of freshly ground pepper. Pour this over the zucchini and cover. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Arrange on a platter and crumble 1/8 cup of Feta cheese over the top. Top with some whole mint leaves, a little black pepper..you are done. Do not serve this cold. Let it come to room temperature to appreciate all the flavors on the platter…and go to your laptop and book a trip to Greece…
TAGLIATELLE….long mid-thin ribbons of egg pasta dough made all over Italy, so delicious. I think you’ll love this dish I came up with combining the tagliatelle with delicious ceci (chick peas), sweet Italian fennel sausage meat, and sweet Italian imported tomatoes. Fresh basil, onion, olive oil, a little white wine. Do I have your attention now? Good. I’m really excited to share this one with you and you’ll want to put this into your recipe rotation. Layer of flavors is something many chefs and cooks talk about and I’m a big believer in that method. Part of layering is not rushing everything and adding it all at once. Cooking is chemistry. The amount, the ingredient, the type of cooking method, the length of time, and when to add the next item are CRUCIAL in pulling out the inteded and full flavor you want from your dish. This isn’t a difficult dish, it’s pretty straightforward but you need to pace your process. The pasta of choice is also important. Using a fresh made tagliatelle is optimal, but we all don’t have time as a luxury and certainly there are so many wonderful brands out there you can use an exceptional egg tagliatelle for this dish. That brand is Cav. Giuseppe Cocco. About 10.00 @ lb. for the egg pasta. Big however here, if you can only find a regular supermarket brand of Tagliatelle I suggest you stick with ones from ITaly. If that’s not an option use the best American brand you can find. Please don’t use Store brands or “Cremettes” or Mullers. Thank you. And before you ask, this dish was conceived for Tagliatelle, so your options are Tagliolini, Fettuccine, Linguine, Pappardelle. But if none of those are available, use what you like. Of course I think i’m developing something unique and original but like most recipes, if you know the basic and many of the food traditions of a cuisine chances are someone else has made a similar version long before you did. There are examples of Pasta with tomato, chick peas and sausage in Italy so I’m keeping this one with an ITALIAN label on it rather than ITalianAmerican. Us Italians/ItalianAmericans, we love the pasta/bean combo. For those who are carb-averse, simply move on..lol.
SERVES: 4-6 TIME: PREP AND COOKING, 1:15 HOUR APPROX.
1 LB. LOOSE SWEET ITALIAN FENNEL SAUSAGE MEAT.
1 MEDIUM ONION, DICED SMALL
1/8 CUP DRY ITALIAN WHITE WINE
2 TBS. OLIVE OIL
SMALL HANDFUL OF FRESH BASIL LEAVES
1 CUP COOKED CHICK PEAS (CECI)
1 28 OZ CAN SAN MARZANO DOP TOMATOES OR OTHER IMPORTED ITALIAN PLUM TOMATOES (KNOWN AS POMODORI PELATI ITALIANI)
SALT, BLACK PEPPER TO TASTE
1 LB EGG TAGLIATELLE COOKED TO AL DENTE RIGHT BEFORE SAUCE IS DONE
PECORINO ROMANO, GRATED, TO TASTE
In a heavy wide pan, like a cast iron or a dutch oven, add 1 tbs of olive oil and heat. Add the onions. Season with salt and pepper and let them cook for 10 minutes..stir frequently so they don’t brown. Add the sausage meat and let this cook still the meat has browned, taked about 10 more minutes…add some of the basil and then the wine deglazing the pan and pulling up the bits from the bottom. Bring to a boil then reduce. Add the Chick peas. Let this cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Crush the tomatoes with your hands in a bowl. Then add to the sausage, onions, and ceci Blend well. Bring to a bowl then reduce. Let this cook on simmer for 1/2 hour. Towards the end of that cooking time make your tagliatelle. Taste the sauce for seasoning. Make any adjustments you need. When the tagliatelle is al dente drain and add to the sauce and cook in the sauce for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Drizzle with olive oil and tear in more fresh basil. Mix… Then add about 2 1/2 tbs of Grated Cheese, mix. Now serve with more grated cheese and cracked black pepper on the side. A delicious Pasta dish.
CAPRI!!! Have you been there? It’s a wonderful rocky island in an azure sea off the coast of Napoli. It’s romantic. It’s scenic. It’s Campanian. It’s loaded with good food. It’s Italian. Americans are very familiar with the Namesake Salad from there called INSALATA CAPRESE. At its most basic this is a salad of Fresh made Mozzarella layered with ripe sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and fruity delicious Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Some sea salt and black pepper (or not) and you’re done. Sorry, no Balsamic on mine, that’s an addition created over here, not in Capri. Balsamic Vinegar is a product of Modena, hundreds of miles away on the Italian Mainland many provinces away from sunny Campania in the south. Southern Italian food should always be…SUNNY…bright, colorful, especially when you’re invoking an Island with cliffs, beaches, sun drenched days and warm nights. Get the picture? I’m much too logical for my own good, or is it OCD? I’m sure it’s a combo of both but when Mozzarella and tomato are baked into something it falls into the Al Forno or Sorrentino style of Southern ITalian dishes. Caprese is a room temperature combination of some ingredients. I’ve poured over CrockPot, InstantPot, Airfryer, baked, roasted, fried, and microwaved versions of Chicken Caprese and haven’t liked one yet because somewhere in all of them something is lost in translation. See, there’s my OCD or Logic. Caprese is a raw salad..why are you cooking it. If you add it to chicken should the chicken be grilled, then marinated and tossed or layered with the typical Caprese salad ingredients? Good, but not spectacular. The chicken became a distraction from the salad components instead of a compliment. My Chicken Caprese is more like what some people today call Chicken Milanese in the restaurants. A Fried Chicken cutlet topped with a salad, with or without mozzarella. Delicious but still not what i was looking for. So I decided to lightly bread whole boneless breasts and bake them. When they were done I let them cool and then topped them with a salad of sliced cherry tomatoes, cubed mozzarella, chopped fresh basil, sea salt, black pepper and the best Extra Virgin Olive Oil you can get your hands on. When the chicken was out of the oven for about 10 minutes over the top of it goes the tomato salad. The salad should be made no less than 2 hours before serving, this way the tomatoes leech their juices and the resulting marinade is a heady mix. It soaks right into the breading on the chicken and it’s an amazing
THE SALAD: First we start making the salad. For 4 serving portions use :
3 pts. RIPE CHERRY OR GRAPE TOMATOES
1 1/2 CUPS DICED MOZZARELLA
(OPTIONAL!!!) 1 1/2 TBS FINE DICED RED ONION OR 2 FINELY MINCED CLOVES OF GARLIC, not both.
1/2 CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
6 CHOPPED OR TORN FRESH BASIL LEAVES (WARNING, WARNING, do not use dried basil. Its flavor is markedly different than fresh, and it’s really not used in Italy. It’s an American convenience herb. If fresh is unavailable, the dish is just not worth making. )
SEA SALT TO TASTE, FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER TO TASTE.
Mix all together and let sit covered in a cool place for at least 2 hours.
8 THIN, POUNDED ORGANIC OR NATURAL CHICKEN BREASTS
1/4 CUP FLOUR SEASONED WITH SEA SALT AND BLACK PEPPER
3 BEATEN EGGS
1 1/4 CUP PLAIN ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS
1/4 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO CHEESE
2 TBS MINCED FRESH ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
KOSHER SALT, PAPRIKA, BLACK PEPPER
OLIVE OIL for FRYING
Set up a station for frying. First the cutlets. Then the bowl of seasoned flour. Then in another bowl mix the breadcrumbs, pecorino, parsley, and salt, paprika and black pepper to taste. Cover a sheet pan with a few layers of paper towels. One by one, dredge the cutlets in the flour…shake off excess. Then into the eggs. Then let the excess run off, then press into the crumb mixture making sure you’ve well coated both sides. Line these up on a line baking sheet. When done move them to the side and set up your frying station. In a cast iron or other heavy frying pan heat 1/2 inch of olive oil until a bread cube place in it starts to sizzle and brown. Now your oil is ready. Give it 6 minutes or more. Without crowding the cutlets add a few at a time Give them 3-4 minutes per side, till nicely golden and tender. Add more oil as needed letting it come back up to temperature between batches. Drain the finished cutlets on the paper towel covered tray. Serve one or two cutlets per person (if feeding 4) and pour a nice amount of the Caprese Salad over them Let them sit for 2 minutes, then serve. I like to add a grating of Pecorino over the warm draining cutlets, along with a grinding of black pepper. That’s just me. Adds additional flavor. Serve!!
So many ways to create this ItalianAmerican classic but this is my way. You can switch out the Pecorino with Parmigiano or Grana Padano but my preference is the Pecorino. When frying the cutlets be mindful of your stove top and pan…you may need to adjust the heat on it in the beginning so you don’t burn the crumbs before the chicken is fully cooked. Just an FYI. Happy Cooking!!!
CALAMARI!!! Abundant and delicious. One of the most popular of all Italian Seafoods it lends itself to many different recipes. Calamari Fritti is the one most widely eaten but there are many way to cook Squid. I’d like to share one with you and needs a hot oven to cook it in (an outdoor grill with the cover down even better because you get that smoky flavor too!). CALAMARI AL FORNO CON PANGRATTUTO, Squid Baked with Breadcrumbs!!! Now don’t shake your head, this isn’t breaded calamari but a simple mix of garlic, olive oil, fresh parsley, lemon, peperoncino, plain breadcrumbs and yes…Pecorino Romano. Follow me, that old wives’ tale about never pairing Italian seafood with cheese has 1000 exceptions. This is one of them. It’s integral to the dish. Since it’s December I’m all about the traditional Southern Italian-ItalianAmerican La Vigilia Seafood dinner on Christmas Eve. Last year I overbought calamari and had some whole ones in the fridge after Christmas. Didn’t want fried calamari again since we had much of it on Christmas Eve so I came up with dish using some easy ingredients. Let get into the kitchen.
3/4 LB SLICED FRESH CALAMARI (SQUID) RINGS AND TENTACLES
1/4 CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
6 SLICED CLOVES OF GARLIC
2 TABLESPOONS FRESH PARSLEY
JUICE OF 1/2 FRESH LEMON
1/3 CUP PLAIN ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS TOASTED IN A DRY PAN, COOLED, THEN ADD 2 TBS. GRATED PECORINO ROMANO AND MIX TOGETHER WITH A LITTLE OLIVE OIL, RESERVE
PreHeat your oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse the calamari in cold water, drain, pat dry with paper towels. In a heavy pan heat all but 1 tbs of the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute’ until fragrant, about 2 minutes being careful not to let it burn. Add the squid and saute’ for only 1 minute on high heat. Remove from heat, add the parsley and a good pinch of peperoncino…Toss well, then place into a baking pan with the additional olive oil. Top with the breadcrumbs , drizzle with olive oil, pinch of salt…and into the hot oven for no more than 6 minutes. Test the calamari for doneness, should be tender. When it’s done simply blend in the toasted breadcrumbs from the top and drizzle with the fresh lemon juice. Serves 3-4. It’s amazing. If you need more cooking time only go maybe another 2 minutes in the hot oven. Serve with lots of Italian bread. You can do this all on an outdoor grill too.
WHO LOVES GRILLED MEATS? I see lots of raised hands out there so this blogpost is just for you. Ever have a SPIEDIE?? Well it’s time you did and they are extremely easy to make at home. They are an ItalianAmerican version of a typical skewered meat/poultry dish popular around the world, but in this fashion it’s typical of the Mediterranean version. SPIEDO is the Italian Word for KITCHEN COOKING SPIT. italian meats threaded on skewers in some fashion generally take the name Spiedini which has different regionalities to it depending on the location in Italy or Sicily.Maybe you’re familiar with SPIEDINI, the small rolls of filled meat/poultry threaded with onions and bay leaves, sometimes slices of Italian Bread. Or you’ve probably had the more well known Greek SOUVLAKIA which is REAL close to ItalianAmerican Spiedies with a few less marinade ingredients and the Greeks us TZATZIKI sauce and a Pita. Spiedies just get more of the marinade on them and can be rolled up into a slice of American White Bread or an Italian long roll.
So what makes these Mediterranean treats ItalianAmerican? Let’s go back to the old country for a moment. In the ABRUZZO region a popular dish is cubes of marinated skwered lamb called SPIDUCC’..or SPIDDUCCI. In True ITALIAN fashion each section of the ABRUZZO has local terms for this dish. ARROSTICINI, ‘RUSTELLE, ARRUSTELLE, all pretty much are the same thing. The term SPIEDIE though is pure ItalianAmerican. The cubes are marinated in a simple dressing of Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar (PUT DOWN THAT BALSAMIC!!! IT COMES FROM UMBRIA NOT THE ABRUZZO!! Lidia Bastianich says it best, foods from an area taste best when you use the ingredients from that area/region. Balsamic while delicious is not a substitute for all vinegar dishes, there, I’ve said it. I know, in America it’s used on everything. My purpose in blogging is to give you the real deal, or close to it. If you use balsamic, just don’t tell me LOL.), garlic or onion, peperoncino, salt, lemon juice, herbs like mint, oregano, basil, bay. The lamb cubes would be marinated for as long as possible, threaded onto metal skewers and slow roasted over hot coals. One of the world’s most popular ways of cooking meats yet still amazing wherever you have it. The American connection comes in via Ellis Island during the great Italian Immigration from 1880s-1930s. Many paesani from the Abruzzo settled in the area of Central New York State around Binghamton NY. As is the norm they brought with them dishes from their homeland and adapted them to the new surroundings. Lamb was first used but in the USA immigrants found ALL meats were easy to get and well priced so in true American fashion varieties of meats and poultry were used to make these Arrosticini or Spidducci which turned into the ItalianAmerican word, SPIEDIES. Legend hotly contests who the creator of the first one in a restaurant was and who had the first “sauce” for them, but the Iacovelli family of Endicott, NY near Binghamton in the 1920’s-1930’s gets the most credit. Plenty of other stories about who and what but that’s where an Italian regional dish made the jump into ItalianAmerican cuisine. These SPIEDIES were marinated in the cook’s version of SPIEDIE Sauce, and grilled, then with a piece of American White Bread (see, this is what makes things ItalianAmerican too) you roll the bread around the spiedie and pull it off into the bread. Instant SPIEDIE SANDWICH. Italian Rolls used also. Now let’s get your charcoal grill stoked and ready for grilling, or prep that gas grill and get this Summer on the road with a platter of SPIEDIES for your dining pleasure!!!
2 LBS MEDIUM CUBED MEAT/POULTRY..Pork, Lamb, Beef, Chicken, Turkey
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup LEMON JUICE, not the bottled stuff, use fresh Lemons
1 cup RED WINE VINEGAR
1 TSP PEPERONCINO
3 finely minced GARLIC cloves
2 Bay Leaves
1 TSP CRUMBLED DRIED MINT OR
2 TSPS FRESH MINCED BASIL, not both
1 TSP MINCED FRESH PARSLEY
1 1/2 TSP DRIED OREGANO
you will need to make 2 batches of the marinade.
SALT and BLACK PEPPER, to taste (be generous with it)
LONG HEAVY DUTY WOODEN SKEWERS (soaked overnight in water), or METAL SKEWERS
Double the marinade recipe and blend well. Let this sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Now separate in equal amounts. Cover and reserve one batch for serving with the finished Spiedies. Add the meat to the other batch and make sure all the cubes are in the marinade. Add the squeezed cut lemons to the bowl and cover. Marinade in the fridge optimally overnight, or no less than 3 hours. Remove the marinating meat from the fridge and LET IT COME TO ROOM TEMPERATURE. Thread the cubes on the skewers, depending on the length of them make sure to leave some blank space at the tip and the end of the skewers. On a well oiled medium heat grill start cooking them lining them up without touching each other and give them at least 7 minutes per side, or more, esp with the chicken/turkey. You can rotate them a few times to get them more evenly grilled. Discard the first marinade and use a little of the 2d batch to baste certainly using a new bowl. Keep the rest of the marinade for serving with the finished dish. Remove the finished Spiedies from the grill and place on a platter. Have the extra Marinade and sliced bread or rolls handy to wrap around the SPIEDIES, PULL OFF, add more marinade and ENJOY. Makes enough for 6-8 servings.
In the Summer an Annual SPIEDIE FEST is held in Central NY…here’s the link:
As the weather moves towards the colder side we look to our ovens again. The aromas that envelope the home as a dish is roasting or baking bring on anticipatory hunger and a generally good feeling all around. I find Baking/Roasting Chicken can turn a cold rough day into a warm hug everytime. The combinations and cuisines are endless. Chicken is a blank canvas that pays off with a masterpiece when completed. CHICKEN SKIN!!! The flavor center. It gives up its flavor to the meat and to the cooking juices while keeping some in that skin which makes it a delight. My cooking is done mostly, almost 99% of the time in absence of a recipe, instead, i use my cooking experience and research to put together dishes that make sense. Some are actual regional dishes with a set list of ingredients in a particular manner. Then there are the other times when I use a basic template for a dish and play around. Like I did one night after work with this BAKED CHICKEN WITH FENNEL, TOMATOES , AND MUSHROOMS. Fennel (oftentimes LIKE TONIGHT AT THE SUPERMARKET, it’s mislabeled as ANISE, similar tastes but not the same) is in the fall and winter markets. The type is actually FLORENTINE FENNEL, or FINOCCHIO, and is part of the ItalianAmerican holiday table. That’s why I bought a big knob with stalks and beautiful fronds tonight. But I once had some post-Thanksgiving finocchio hanging around in the fridge. Fennel is often made as a side dish, roasted in the oven. SO….there were some Grape tomatoes and onions in my view, a nice pack of Organic chicken cut into pieces and I thought…let’s make a dish. The chicken is well seasoned, the tomatoes are thrown in the pan along with some whole mushrooms, chopped fennel, olive oil, some cloves of garlic and White Wine and stock…and then baked. That’s it. With those ingredients you CAN’T GO WRONG..your home will smell like a country restaurant somewhere in Italy or Sicily where Fennel is king. Let’s make some chicken with fennel!!
TIME: 1 1/2 HOURS SERVES: 4
1 ORGANIC OR NATURAL CHICKEN, CUT INTO 8 PIECES
2 TSP KOSHER SALT
1 TSP GROUND BLACK PEPPER
1/4 CUP OLIVE OIL
1 FENNEL BULB, TRIMMED AND SLICED
10 CHOPPED FENNEL FRONDS (THE TOPS OF THE STALKS)
2 PINTS CHERRY TOMATOES
1 LB. WHOLE CREMINI OR BUTTON MUSHROOMS
1 MEDIUM ONION DICED
2 SMASHED CLOVES OF GARLIC
1/4 CUP WHITE WINE
1 TSP. HUNGARIAN PAPRIKA
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a bowl, liberally season the chicken with salt, pepper, paprika, and olive oil. In another bowl, do the same with the fennel, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, garlic. In a baking pan add the vegetable mixture. Then fit the chicken into the pan.
Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top, then the wine. Place into the oven in the middle rack and let it cook undisturbed for 25 minutes. Baste the chicken with the pan juices and rotate the pan. Bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until the chicken is reading 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer (so you know, that’s my BFF). When the chicken is at that temp, remove from the oven. baste with the pan juices and then cover and serve in 5 minutes.Delicious and clean tasting. Meat and a plate of vegetables cooked in the pan juices. So good. I like roasted potatoes, or rice, or simply some good bread with this…up to you. That pan is DYING for what the Italians call FARE LA SCARPETTA!! Scooping up those pan juices with a really well crusted piece of Italian bread. Do it before someone else does…you cooked it, it’s your treat. You deserve it. Now enjoy your meal! Happy Cooking!!
Italian Cuisine is full of simple dishes that require one rule….look for the best ingredients you can find. That basically translates into cook with the seasons. In the USA we can access foods out of our regional seasons at any time of the year. Making an out of season peperonata will still be a delicious dish but never as good as when peppers are in season. That rule applies across the board. Me? I make peperonata whenever I feel like totally realizing that a Peperonata made in May will take delicious, but never as good as one you make in August thru November.The most basic form of this PEPERONATA, which is a PEPPER STEW, is slow cooking strips of different colored peppers in Olive Oil with onions and garlic. Then it splits off from there into many variations. Give this dish about 2 hours of your time and you’ll be making it over and over again. Use a nice heavy and wide pot fot this dish, a dutch oven. I add the umami of Anchovy to the mix. The dish is southern Italian so as long as these are combos that appear in other regional dishes you are not committing Italian Food Heresy. Home grown produce that’s still warm in your hand and seconds from picking it will ALWAYS be the optimum way to get your ingredients. In the real world only a handful of us have that treat. Next best idea is to have a local farmers or farm market where produce truly is local, from the surrounding area. Living at the Central Jersey Shore we have quite a few great places that for those of us who don’t grow in our own gardens and the seasonal selections are fantastic. This is where I purchased the peppers for my PEPERONATA. http://www.deliciousorchardsnjonline.com/….DELICIOUS ORCHARDS in Colts Neck N.J. Beautiful selection of local bell peppers, seasonal bell peppers from other areas, local cubanelles, cheese peppers, hot cherry peppers, Italian long hots, Italian Long Sweets, and dozens of chile pepper varieties. For this dish we use a mix of multicolored bell peppers. The long stewing transforms these ordinary tasting peppers into a complex and velvet like vegetable stew. About the variations, if the core of the dish isn’t a slow cooked down pot of pepper slices with olive oil and onions and/or garlic it’s just a saute’ of peppers. A little tomato in the mix adds to the complexity. I use a tablespoon of Imported Italian tomato paste..rich and concentrated. Lidia is telling us “layers of flavor” in most of her shows and this dish is an example of how a crisp raw pepper and some other ingredients turns into something so much greater than it was before you made the Peperonata. Get excited!! This is an exciting tasting dish. Here is my version of PEPERONATA!
MAKES ABOUT 5 CUPS TAKES: CLOSE TO 2 HOURS
1/2 cup OLIVE OIL
8 MULTICOLORED SUMMER BELL PEPPERS, seeded, cored, ribs cut out, and cut into as uniformly sliced cuts as you can get.
2 MEDIUM SLICED ONIONS
3 SLICED CLOVES OF GARLIC
1/2 TSP. CRUMBLED DRIED OREGANO
1 TSP. RINSED SALTED CAPERS
1 ANCHOVY FILET (ok, optional if you refuse to enjoy the umami that those delicious little fish give without making it taste like fish…just sayin…)
1 TABLESPOON OF TOMATO PASTE (i use imported Italian tomato paste)
2 TABLESPOONS OF RED WINE VINEGAR
1/8 cup WHITE WINE
In a large heavy pot(Dutch oven) heat 1/2 the olive oil and add the peppers. Season the peppers with salt and make sure to coat them well with the oil. This really helps with breaking them down. Let this cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Now add the onion, garlic, anchovy, oregano and pinch of peperoncino, pinch of salt and blend well with the peppers. Let this cook for 10 minutes.Add the wine and tomato paste the rest of the olive oil and the capers and blend well. Continue to cook on low for 1 hour, stirring frequently. When the peppers are nice and soft, add the vinegar and stir. Taste. Check for seasonings at this point. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 3 hours or over night. Then use either at room temperature or gently reheated.
Some people add olive to this. I prefer not too. Up to you. TUTTI I GUSTI SON GUSTI!! meaning everyone to their own tastes!!
So what are we using this in?? Again, on it’s own as a main or side with bread…in eggs, frittata, over an omelette, mixed with potatoes, on sandwiches, with sausages and pork, over grilled chicken..on flatbreds, pizzas, bruschetta and crostini…More local peppers…these are from another fantastic local farm market I frequent… MATT’S FARM MARKET in Lake Como, NJ… http://www.mattsfarmmarket.com/
Remember, these are not fried peppers, or sauteed peppers, they are stewed peppers, a 2 hour investment will pay off in high culinary dividends!!
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.