Chicken with Vinegar, Raisins, and Onions – An interesting combination of flavors – with kind of a sweet and sour finish.
Boil the onions in salted water for about 5 minutes. Remove and place them in a bowl. Fry the pancetta in a pot until it browns. Remove and place it in a separate bowl.
Add the boiled onions to same pot with the pancetta fat and cook until they begin to brown. Add garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Transfer onions and garlic to bowl with pancetta.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add the chicken to pot starting skin side down and cook, turning, until browned. Transfer to bowl with onions.
Pour off the fat from pot and return to medium-high heat. Add both vinegars to the pot and bring to a boil and deglaze. Add broth, raisins, bay leaves, browned chicken thighs, pancetta, onions, and garlic to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is fork-tender, 25 – 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken and onions to a platter. Continue cooking the sauce for another few minutes so it reduces. Spoon the sauce over chicken and onions and serve with pasta or rice.
Saint Joseph is highly regarded by Italians and we celebrate his feast day on March 19th. Like a lot of other Italian celebrations, his feast day centers on food. A standard is the Saint Joseph’s pastry – zeppole and sfingi – made by Italian bakeries in March. Another is Pasta con Sarde, with a sauce made from saffron, fennel and fresh sardines.
There’s a popular sit-com called The Big Bang Theory. One of the characters, Raj, can’t talk to a woman unless he’s had a drink. His drink of choice, of all things, is a Grasshopper. I’ve heard of them but never had one, so I thought I’d try it.
It’s a simple three-ingredient cocktail –
You put all the ingredients together, shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. You get a pretty green drink that I suppose is the same color as a grasshopper. It’s a pretty cocktail for Saint Patrick’s Day.
It’s great for a sit-com but I’ll probably never have one again. It tasted just like a Peppermint Patty.
FYI – If you replace the crème de menthe with brandy, you have a Brandy Alexander (much better).
My daughter came up with this one. It was so good we added it to our Christmas Eve seafood menu.
1 chopped garlic clove
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup plain fine bread crumbs
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
Salt and black pepper
2 large filets – grey or dover sole, or flounder
Mix the first 5 ingredients. Blot the filets dry, season with salt and black pepper and place in an oiled roasting pan. Cook in 350o oven for 12 minutes. Remove and cover with the breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
Return to oven for 5 minutes and then under broiler for 3 minutes – just enough to brown the crumbs.
Shrimp with Orange Sauce and Salad – An interesting recipe adapted from Bon Appetit – the mix for the marinade is also used as sauce and salad dressing.
Mix orange juice, Sriracha, honey, soy sauce and ¼ cup oil. Reserve ½ of it to be used as salad dressing and sauce. Add the shrimp to the remaining half. Let it stand 30 minutes, mixing occasionally.
Heat the remaining 2 tbsp. oil in a pan. Drain the shrimp, reserving the liquid and cook them until pink. Remove the cooked shrimp and add the reserved liquid. Boil until slightly reduced, check for seasoning and then ladle over the shrimp.
Serve with rice and salad using the marinade as dressing.
¼ cup dried currants (soaked in warm water 15 minutes)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
Olive oil for grill pan and basting
Salt and black and red pepper to taste
If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes.
Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and place it in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the flavors combine.
Remove the meat mix from the refrigerator and pull off a piece about the size of a large egg. Form this tightly and evenly on a flat skewer. If the meat is too wet, add some breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining mix.
Place the skewers on an oiled grill pan heated to medium-high. Baste with oil as they are grilling. Carefully turn once. Cook until the outside is slightly charred.
Olives and Oranges is a tasty and simple dish to prepare. It works as an hors d’oeuvre, appetizer, brochette or side dish.
Keep the peel on the orange and cut into wedges. Cut each wedge into small triangular slices, about 1/8-inch thick.
In a heavy flat skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the olives and orange wedges to the pan and stir and combine. Add the garlic. Continue to shake the pan back and forth to gently stir the contents for about 5 minutes, until the olives are warmed through, the garlic soft and shiny, and the orange slices slightly wilted.
Stir in the oregano, transfer to a bowl and serve warm.
Fry the garlic in oil. Add the tomatoes and cook until slightly soft.
Add the broth, bay leaf, and the pasta. Keep adding heated water, maybe 2 or 3 cups, to keep a soupy consistency. When the pasta is almost done, add the peas, stir and cook for a few minutes. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.
It’s an argument that will probably go on forever among Italian-Americans. Is it sauce or gravy? Most non-Italians couldn’t care less and it doesn’t really bother me but I’m going to add my opinion anyway.
In any dictionary, gravy and sauce have almost identical definitions although it seems that to be called “gravy” there must be some meat, or meat juices or drippings involved.
In Italian, there’s sugo (thin sauce/gravy made with meat) and ragu (thick sauce/gravy made with meat). Then there’s salsa, not made with meat and which I would translate as sauce.
When people think of gravy it’s usually brown and often made with meat drippings and a bit of flour to thicken it. Well, why can’t it be red and made with meat drippings and tomatoes instead of flour?
When my mother had a pot of bubbling tomatoes on the stove filled with meatballs, braciole, and sausage she called it “gravy.” When she made marinara, that’s tomatoes with no meat, it was “sauce.”
So that’s my take on the unending sauce-gravy argument. And here’s a recipe for a ragu. You can call it what you like.
Sweat one cup of trinity in oil and then add and lightly brown the pork. Add the crushed tomatoes and sachet. Simmer for at least one hour.
Put on a pot of water for the pasta. Add the peas to the tomatoes and pork and simmer for another 10 minutes while the pasta is cooking. Taste for seasoning.
When the pasta is almost done drain and add it to the ragu to finish cooking. If it’s too dry add some pasta water. Serve with grated cheese.
There are a lot of variations for this one – but always meat and tomatoes. Here’s a simple, basic recipe which you can vary.
Sausage – hot or sweet
Dried sausage or soprasade
Garlic (2 chopped cloves)
Salt and black pepper
Brown the sausage and oxtails in oil. Do it in batches and don’t crowd the pan. Remove and add the dried sausage and garlic. Don’t burn the garlic. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat, taste for seasoning and simmer for at least one hour.
There used to be a grocery store where I grew up on Mott Street called May’s. I’d go there for lunch because May made great sandwiches, especially fried baloney sandwiches. I know a lot of people have never heard of fried baloney but it really tastes great and is very simple to make.
For some reason, we call it baloney when it’s spelled Bologna, the city in Italy where it was first made. I guess that’s an Americanization, like saying “gabagool” for “capicola.”
All you need is bread, baloney and a little oil to fry it in. The better the bread, the better the sandwich. I like mine the way May used to do it, with mustard, relish, and lettuce.