Posts Tagged 'Mario Batali'

Salsiccie di Lucania (Pork Sausage from Lucania)

Pork Sausage from Lucania

I have something of a love-hate relationship with my sausage stuffer.  I adore sausage but, now that I have a sausage stuffer, I insist that whatever sausage we eat at home be homemade.  There’s a certain amount of setup required to make sausages and I feel the need to make a large batch to make it worth the effort.  Therefore, I ended up rolling the dice when trying a new recipe as to how they’ll turn out.

In this case, I knew I hit the jackpot as soon as I offered Angela a piece of the sample I used to check the seasoning.  No words were needed.  I could see the answer in her face.  And while Angela likes sausage, her level of appreciation is not equivalent to my own.  This sausage may have changed her mind.

I had been looking for a new Italian sausage recipe to use. My last attempt, while decent, had too much coriander seed for one. It just wasn’t quite right.

While this sausage can fill in for an “Italian sausage” (it is in fact a recipe of Italian extraction), it is not an Italian sausage in the traditional American sense.  It doesn’t have the fennel seed which is almost the defining characteristics of such sausages. It does, however, have a lot of garlic and ginger to provide flavor. It’s a lot simpler but still tasty. It can also be used as a breakfast sausage in a pinch (actually the first way I cooked it).

When I have 5 lbs. of sausage in the freezer, I remember why I like to have a sausage stuffer.  When viewing the cornucopia of sausages at a megamart (or even the farmer’s market for that matter), it’s hard to remember why I enjoy making my own.  Part of it’s just enjoying making sausages with Angela, part of it’s the quality, and part of it is choosing exactly what I want in a sausage.

Grinding meat for sausage

Salsiccie di Lucania (Pork Sausage from Lucania)
Adapted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

12 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 oz. ginger, peeled and finely diced
6 oz. pancetta, chopped
5 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces
1 lbs. pork fat, cut into 1″ pieces
tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup red wine

8 ft. pork sausage casings

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the red wine  sausage casings.  Refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.
  2. Place the bowl containing the meat in an ice bath.  Grind the meat mixture through the smallest holes into another bowl in an ice bath.
  3. Add the wine to the mixture and beat with a paddle mixer at low speed for 1 minute.
  4. Cook a small portion of the sausage mixture in olive oil to verify seasoning.  While cooking the sample sausage mixture, place the remaining sausage mixture in the refrigerator.
  5. Stuff the sausage mixture into the sausage casings.  Twist into individual sausages.

Makes 6 lbs. sausages

Gnocchi di Ricotta con Salsiccia e Finocchi (Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage and Fennel)

Ricotta Gnocchi

As previously mentioned, Angela and I have been in the processing of moving for the last month.  In the beginning of November, we packed up (or more precisely had movers pack up) our apartment in Long Beach, CA.  Two days later we flew to Washington Dulles and made our way to Alexandria, VA late at night, dropping off our cats with my parents on the way.

In the course of waiting for our household goods to arrive and looking for a new place, we were staying in a hotel.  While hotels are wonderful places to stay when you’re on vacation, they’re far from ideal as a residence.  I intentionally had picked a hotel that claimed it had a full kitchen.  Apparently, a full kitchen means a refrigerator, dishwasher, two electric burners, awful pots, and no oven.  My best laid plans of regularly cooking dinner there were quickly dashed if only because the pots (there was nothing that would qualify as a pan) were beyond awful.  But we did manage to eat in part of the time. And that’s one of the major reasons for lack of posts here. There simply wasn’t anything to post about (as well as some other logistical problems; I had my camera but didn’t have the computer I need to edit photos).

Toasted Fennel Seeds in a Mortar & Pestle

But that part of our moving ordeal (and what move isn’t an ordeal?) is over.  We have moved into our very own (rented) townhouse in Old Town Alexandria.  We have our cats who are still terrified and huddling in the basement.  We no longer have a dish washer.  The kitchen is tiny but I’ve appropriated the sun room for storage and a prep area.  My parents hated our old couch  that they bought us a new one.  We’ve spent more at Ikea that I’d like to admit and we still need to make another trip there.  We have our Christmas tree up.  While it may not be quite there yet, it’s slowly turning into home.

And last night, we had our first dinner guest.  My cousin Alison drove down from D.C.  Because she’s family, I had no issue with using her as a guinea pig for a new recipe.  I had purchased some ricotta at the Alexandria Farmer’s Market that I needed to use. I originally thought of ravioli but I didn’t quite have that much time on a weekday (I’m not quite set in my work schedule yet). Instead, I decided on ricotta gnocchi. I had some time to stop at a grocery store so I decided to make the full ricotta gnocchi with the suggested sauce and all.

The ricotta gnocchi were very easy to make.  Much easier than pasta or potato gnocchi.  The sauce wasn’t difficult (it’s mainly chopping) but I had problems with the Italian sausage not producing enough fat so I kept having to add olive oil.  There also wasn’t much liquid in my tomato sauce so I had to add water to the overall sauce so that the sauce could actually simmer.  This does produce a lot of sauce relative to the amount of gnocchi.  It’s almost a more Italian-American ratio than Italian but you can choose to eat as much or as little of the sauce as you choose.

If you examine the pictures, I’m pretty sure you can tell Alison’s opinion of the meal.  I heartily concur.  Alison was going to look for them at the store but they’re easy enough to make that I’d recommend making them yourself.

Ricotta Gnocchi Cooking

Gnocchi di Ricotta con Salsiccia e Finocchi (Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage and Fennel)
Adapted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

Gnocchi:

Alison enjoying Ricotta Gnocchi

1 1/2 lbs. fresh ricotta
1 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
olive oil

Sauce:

2 lbs. italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
1 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 red onion, finely diced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 rib of celery, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
salt and pepper
Pecorino Romano

  1. Place the ricotta in a cheese cloth lined sieve set over a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. To make the gnocchi, place the drained ricotta in a bowl with the flour, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Stir together with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.  Shape the dough into 2 tbsp balls and place them on a tea-towel covered baking sheet lightly dusted with flour.
  3. Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling water until they all float, about 7 minutes.  Place the cooked gnocchi in an ice bath and transfer them to a bowl.  Toss with olive oil and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over high heat until it is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Add olive oil if the sausage starts to stick.  Transfer the sausage to a bowl.
  5. Add the fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, onion, fennel, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pan cook until the vegetables are softened and browned, about 10 minutes.  Add olive oil if needed.
  6. Return the sausage to the pan and add the tomato sauce.  If needed, add some water to the pan.  Scrap up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.
  7. In more boiling water, cook the gnocchi until they again float to the surface.  Transfer the gnocchi to the sauce, toss well, and cook for 1 minute more.
  8. Served topped with grated Pecorino Romano.

Serves 6.

Costine al Vino Rosso (Pork Spareribs with Red Wine)

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There’s a regular fight in our house about what to have for dinner. Angela wants me to make something I’ve made before. I find that boring and want to make something new. Sometimes she wins, sometimes I win.

Last night, Angela wanted me to make Slow cooker “BBQ” Spareribs again. I wanted to make something new. This time I won.

Because we don’t have a grill (one of the downsides of apartment living), I decided to indulge my love of braises. And, really, how can pork braised in red wine and tomato sauce be bad?

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And it wasn’t to me. Sadly, Angela didn’t particularly care for it. I’m not entirely sure why. I know she just disliked the taste of the Jerusalem artichokes that I served with it. So, this recipe is not Angela approved (I’m thinking about making a graphic of Angela Approved Seal for recipes she likes; sort of an indicator as to whether or not a picky eater would like it).

As written, the recipe results in ribs that aren’t fall-off-the-bone tender. If I were to make them again, I’d braise them for longer. There’s also no salt involved in the recipe as written. I think Mario Batali was phoning it in on this recipe. I’ve updated the recipe to make it better.

Otherwise, I liked it. There’s room for improvement but it was still tasty.

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Costine al Vino Rosso (Pork Spareribs with Red Wine)
Adapted from Molto Italiano

1 1/2 lbs. pork spare ribs, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, coarsely diced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1″ pieces
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup basic tomato sauce
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and patted dry
4 sprigs of rosemary
Salt

  1. Place the spareribs in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Drain the spareribs and then rinse them. Season the spareribs with salt
  2. Add the olive oil to a dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat until the oil is just about smoking. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Deglaze the dutch oven with the red wine, scrapping up any browned bits. Add the chicken stock, the tomato sauce, and the anchovy fillet. Season the sauce with salt. Add the pork and stir together.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the pork is fork tender. Serve in small bowls.

Serves 2 to 3.

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Basic Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Molto Italiano

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/4 carrot, finely diced
1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, diced
1 28-oz. can of whole tomatoes

  1. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot and thyme and cook until the carrot is soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and the tomato juice to the skillet. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon. Simmer the tomato sauce for 30 minutes. Season the sauce with salt.

Makes 2 cups (yes, that’s twice what you need for above, use the rest for pasta or something).

Pork Chops with Peppers and Capers

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About once a year, Costco has a coupon that makes a family pack of pork chops extremely affordable. With a reluctant Angela in tow, I buy a package. These pork chops are pretty big: I usually cut them in half as we really don’t need that much protein. So I use one or maybe two of them and then freeze the rest. We then proceed to eat a pork chop ever month or so for the rest of the year. I think I need to stop buying large quantities of pork chops.

I decided that we really need to finish up the pork chops we had (the date on the package said January but I tried to ignore that; I think there’s one more thats left). We could use the room in the freezer and they are coming up to their anniversary in there. Angela wasn’t particularly enthused about the idea (she’s not a big fan of pork chops because they have a tendency to be a bit tough) which is why we don’t eat them very often (see the about page).

The real question when pulling something out of the freezer (particularly when it’s something that I don’t cook particularly often) is how to prepare it. I’ve made enough bad pork chops in my life (they have to be one of the easiest things to overcook) to know that this is a delicate question.

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I settled on a recipe from Mario Batali because, well, I had just gotten his cookbook (we had a 50% off coupon from Barnes & Noble) and it looked reasonably good. It also happened to fit into things we just happened to have (well, with some modifications): pork chops, peppers, leftover white wine, and pearl onions. Now, the original recipe called for bell peppers but I only had an Italian frying pepper. It also called for “bulb onions” which I’m guessing are just fresh pearl onions with their stems attached. It also called for olives which I don’t like (I’ve tried several but haven’t come up with any I don’t spit out; I really want to like them; what’s a good “starter” olive?) so I left them out.

The original recipe called for a lot more red pepper flakes than I’ve listed here. The dish was hot. Very hot. Almost too hot to eat. It also repeated the pepper spray incident but to a lesser extent (Angela’s words: “Did you create pepper spray again?”).

This is one of the better recipes for pork chops I’ve had. Surprisingly, they weren’t over-brined (which I was afraid of given the length of time they are brined for). The peppers and onions also worked well with the pork chops. The sauce reminded me a bit of an Asian style stir-fry sauce. It might have been the red pepper. Sadly the potatoes were overpowered in taste by the pork chops. I also think the potatoes weren’t that good (but they were pretty).

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Pork Chops with Peppers and Capers (Cotolette alla Zingara)
Adapted from Molto Italiano

5 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 pork chops
salt and black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 Italian frying pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into thin slices
4 pearl onions, peeled and sliced into rings
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp capers with brine
1/2 cup dry white wine

  1. Combine 1 cup of water, the kosher salt, the brown sugar, the peppercorns, and the bay leaf in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring to desolve the brine ingredients. Pour the brine into a bowl and add the remaining 4 cups of water. Place the pork chops in the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Dry the pork chops with a paper towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour.
  3. Over high heat, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Brown the pork chops in the oil, about 7 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the other. Remove the pork chops to a plate.
  4. Add the onions, peppers, red pepper flakes, and capers to the skillet. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Deglaze with the wine, scrapping up all the brown bits.
  5. Add the pork chops back to the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes or until the pork reaches 135°F (mine cooked past this point but we’re still good).
  6. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Serve covered with the sauce.

Serves 2.