Subs, hoagies, grinders – that’s fine but in New York, it’s a hero. Sandwiches Italian-Style doesn’t necessarily mean 8 different kinds of meat and cheese and a bunch of other things, where each flavor cancels out the next. It shouldn’t be that complicated.
For a good Italian-Style sandwich the most important thing is the bread. On the right bread, cream cheese and Welch’s grape jelly can be something special. Then comes basic but high-quality ingredients. After that, the main condiments are simply salt, pepper and maybe a few drops of olive oil. Here are a few standards.
Sausage & Peppers – Fry some bell peppers and an onion. Then fry the sausage in the same pan. Simple
Tuna with Lemon and Onion – Use imported tuna packed in olive oil, add some thinly sliced lemon (with skin) and onion. A little romaine if you like.
Ricotta on a Roll – Scrape some of the bread out of the top of the roll to make room for the ricotta so it doesn’t squeeze out.
Mootz & Tomato – Fresh cold mozzarella with sliced tomatoes and basil if you have it.
Escarole – Add just washed and still wet escarole leaves to a pan where you’ve sautéed some garlic in oil. Simmer until it wilts. It’s as easy as that.
Note that only one of these sandwiches contains meat, another fish and the last three are vegetarian. That says something about the Mediterranean Diet.
Skin-On Chicken Breast is similar to and simpler than doing the duck breasts from my last post. Have your butcher remove the bone from the breast leaving the skin in place or you can do that yourself.
Put them on a cutting board and cover with Saran. Pound them to an even thickness – about ¾ inch.
Blot them dry and season with salt and pepper and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 hour. Bring them to room temperature before cooking.
Add a little oil to a cold pan. Put the breasts in skin side down and turn the heat on to medium. Weigh down the breasts so the skin makes full contact and browns evenly – it should take about 6 – 8 minutes.
With a sharp knife, lightly score the fat cover on the duck breast diagonally in a cross hatch pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat.
Season on both sides with salt and pepper and allow the breast to sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
Place pan over medium heat. Place the breast skin side down and turn up heat to medium-high. Put a weight on it to assure full contact with the pan. I use an old iron. You can use a dish with a soup or tomato can on top. Let it sizzle for about 8 minutes (for a1 lb. breast) until skin is crisp and golden. Take a peek about half way through to see how dark it’s getting and adjust the heat if necessary.
Turn breast over and cook 6 to 8 minutes more. If you have one, check temperature with an instant-read thermometer. It should read about 125 degrees when it’s done. It’s not chicken so don’t be afraid to serve it rare.
Let the breast rest on a warm platter for about 10 minutes before slicing.
A properly cooked duck breast can be eaten as-is, but if you’d like a semi-sweet sauce try this one.
“IT’S TIME TO COME TO GRIPS WITH THE SUGAR-ON-GRITS DEBATE,” 4/11/16 (click here for the full story) Mississippi Sun Herald
This is important – SUGAR ON GRITS ???
When I was drafted, at my first breakfast in an Army mess hall I saw what I thought were people eating mashed potatoes with their eggs. I was wrong. I asked what that white stuff was and was told it was grits. I had some and thought they were great. I even wrote my mother to tell her “they serve polenta for breakfast in the Army.” I’m a New Yorker with a warn spot in my heart for grits but as a ‘’northerner” I don’t feel right about weighing in on this sensitive issue. What do you think? Sugar or no sugar. Let me and the Mississippi Sun Herald know how you feel.
Here’s another home style dish that you don’t see on a restaurant menu. Our mother served soup or some type of minestra for dinner every evening along with a second course. Monday pasta patate, Tuesday pasta piselli, Wednesday pasta lenticchie, etc.
Pasta Lenticchie ala Piccola Nicolina
Pick over the lentils and rinse them in a scolo pasta (colander). Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart pot and add the carrots, garlic and celery. Sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the rinsed lentils, salt and pepper and stir. Add enough water to cover plus an inch and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender (about 40 minutes). Add the ditalini or broken spaghetti and cook for 8 minutes.
Note: always taste as you are cooking. Lentils and broken pasta vary in size therefore the cooking time may vary.
Green pepperonciniinfused oil is good to drizzle on top of each serving. Please do not sprinkle cheese on this.
Heat olive oil in pan and brown one side of steak (or veal or pork chops). While its browning sprinkle top side with S&P, finely chopped garlic and dried oregano. When the underside is brown turn the meat over making sure that there is enough oil so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Immediately cover with a large can of crushed tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.
Optional – Add a small can of drained baby peas (or fresh or frozen and cook accordingly) and maybe some chopped parsley (one or the other) in the last 5 minutes.
You can serve this alone, as a main course or use some of that sauce on a side of pasta.
Some restaurants include peppers in this sauce – DON’T! (and no cheese either).