My mother’s mother, Nicolina, came from Salerno. The Salernitano pronunciation is chee-fi-choff. My mother’s Uncle Tony lived on Staten Island and had a chicken coop near the back of his property. Every time we visited he offered to kill a chicken for my mother to take home. She always politely refused, preferring the neatly packaged ones from the supermarket.
This is a simple recipe that tastes more complicated than it is to prepare. There are other recipes for ’Ncip ’Nciape with more ingredients and more complicated. But this is the simplest and for me, the best.
Cut a room temperature chicken into 10 pieces, (2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 legs and 2 breasts each cut in half) and season with salt and pepper. Lightly brown in oil and remove (don’t pour out the fat). Lightly brown 5 cloves of garlic cut in half in the remaining chicken fat and oil in the same pot. Add ½ cup of liquid and deglaze the pot. Return chicken with 1/4 cup chopped parsley, cover and simmer on medium low heat covered for 20 minutes turning once. This is very good with a vinegary salad and I also love it left-over and room temperature or even cold. This recipe also works well with rabbit or lamb.
Although I call this ‘pasta’ with clam sauce. It’s traditionally made only with linguine or spaghetti.
Start by sautéing some garlic in oil, like the basic Aglio e Oliorecipe. Let it cool.
Steam 20-24 Little Neck clams in a 10 ozs. of water and when they open remove most of them from their shells but leave a few in their shells to decorate the serving dish. If the clams seem too large you can chop them.
Carefully pour the broth from the pot you steamed the clams into the pan with the garlic and oil. I say carefully because there’s sometimes a bit of sand at the bottom of the pot that can be avoided if you pour slowly. Now add the clams to the garlic & oil. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley. Simmer for a little bit and pour over 1 pound of linguini. Sprinkle with a little more chopped parsley and don’t even think about putting any cheese on it.
You can substitute cockles or mussels for the clams.
If you unfortunately happen to be someplace where you can’t get fresh shellfish you can use a can of clams (Doxie or Cento) and a bottle of clam broth (again, Doxie or Cento). (I don’t recommend it but If you must have red clam sauce just add a couple of ladles of simple marina sauce before serving.)
I’ll start with the simplest form, a basically 2 ingredient sauce. It’s very quick and easy to make – an inexpensive meal in a hurry.
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic (more if you like), thinly sliced
Salt, black pepper and red pepper to taste
1 lb. spaghetti
Boil salted water in a 3 quart pot. When the water boils add the pasta and cook until al dente. As the pasta cooks, heat the garlic in oil. Add S&P and red pepper. Add about 6 ozs. pasta water to the garlic & oil. Toss pasta in the sauce. That’s it – pretty simple! And it’s the base for lots of other sauces including clam sauce.
Any left-overs are good for a Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Omelet. Cut the leftover pasta in 2 – 3 inch pieces. Brown slightly in oil, add some scrambled eggs, fold and it’s done.
Although it’s traditionally made with spaghetti or maybe linguine, you can also try it with Japanese buckwheat noodles (obviously not traditional but very good – don’t tell Grandma).
You can add: chopped parsley for a little color and/or chopped walnuts before adding the pasta to the sauce. If you want you can add a can (about 12) anchovies and dissolve them in the hot oil before you add the garlic. Also try about 3 table spoons of rehydrated golden raisins or currants.
Calabrese Aglio e Olio
My mother’s father was Calabrese. Calabrese housewives who ran out of preserved tomatoes during the winter could always come up with some tomato paste. Start same as above but add about 2 or 3 tbls. of tomato paste to the garlic & oil. Fry it for about 5 minutes and then add a cup of pasta water. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. You can sprinkle with some toasted bread crumbswhen serving.
Basilicata Aglio e Olio
My father’s parents came from the town of Laurenzana in Basilicata which is where this recipe originated. When the garlic is frying add a heaping tablespoon ofpowered pepperoncini and 6 ozs. of pasta water. The sauce should be watery and pink in color. When the pasta is almost done, put it in the pan with the sauce to finish cooking. If you’ve put enough pepper the pasta should turn slightly pink. Very spicy! Sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs.
Traditionally, these dishes are not served with cheese.
Where ever you go you’ll get an argument about how chili should be made – with beans/without beans, ground meat/cubes, etc. Here are 2 recipes from both ends of the chili spectrum. Both good but different. Try each and then improvise.
The idea of this one is that a cowboy always had access to some beef that he could fry in its own fat and he could easily carry a few dried peppers in his saddle bag. And maybe he could find a wild onion out on the range.
Boil to rehydrate 6 or 7 anchos in 1 ½ cups water. Strain, saving liquid. Remove stems and chop roughly.
Cut 1 lb. sirloin (cowboys has access to good cuts of beef) into cubes and brown lightly over high heat (add some oil if you need it) with salt and pepper and remove. Lightly brown small chopped onion (optional) and add the chopped peppers. Return meat and juices and simmer 5 minutes on low heat. Add ancho liquid and stir, scraping up brown bits from pan. Simmer another 5 minutes and it’s ready.
North East Chili
I got this recipe from a friend from Massachusetts. Then I made it for someone from Colorado and asked her what she thought of it. She said, “Not bad – tastes like North East chili.”
This recipe can serve a large group – cut it in half if you want. It’s good left over.
In batches, brown 2 lbs chopped beef and 1 lb. of cubed chuck (seasoned) in oil and remove. Brown 1 large chopped onion, 2 cloves chopped garlic and salt and pepper.
Add 1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes and 1 sm. can chili powder. Return meat and juices.
Simmer 2 hours and then add 3 cans of beans (1 each pinto, kidney and black). Simmer another 20 minutes. It’s better made a day in advance and then re-heated and served.
Ruby’s has been on the Coney Island boardwalk since 1934. The boardwalk used to be lined with bars and restaurants like this but Ruby’s is the last man standing. We were worried that when the gentrification of Coney Island started a few years back Ruby’s long run would end but, lucky for us it’s still there and going strong.
They have a full bar with great beer on tap including Ruby’s Amber. Their menu speaks for itself – typical, traditional Coney Island food.
My family’s been regulars at Coney Island for a long time. Here’s a shot of my uncle, aunt and mother in 1932.
A simple recipe my mother made often as a first dish. Standard home cooking that I’ve never seen on a restaurant menu. Some of the peas nestle into the conchigliette all by themselves – a nice touch.
7 or 8 peeled, cored & sliced cipollini (or substitute ½ onion, chopped)
½ tspn salt
½ tspn black pepper
¼ tspn red pepper flakes
1 oz prosciutto, (2 or 3 slices cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
14 oz. fresh, frozen or canned small peas
1 lb conchigliette (small shells)
Pasta – Boil water in a 3 quart pot. When the water boils add the pasta and cook until aldente (approximately 7-8 minutes).
Sauce – Sweat the cipollini in oil with salt and black and red pepper in a pot on low to medium heat. Add the prosciutto and fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato and cook until it breaks down, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup of the pasta water and the peas – fresh or frozen, cook for 5 minutes.
When pasta is cooked, toss with sauce. Add more pasta water to make it wet but not too soupy.
Lots of people think they don’t like anchovies. Maybe they really don’t, at least not straight from the can or jar. But they are commonly used as a flavoring and the anchovy haters don’t even know it’s there. You can dissolve 2 or 3 in some heated olive oil as the base of a sauce. It’s Italian umami.
Another way to get the flavor of anchovies (alici in Italian) is to use Colatura di Alici. It’s essence of anchovy and made by layering anchovies with sea salt in a barrel and then putting weights on top. After a time a hole is opened on the bottom of the barrel and this liquid is drained and bottled.
You might compare it to Vietnamese Nước mắm pha but it’s more complex than that. It’s closely related to garum, a fish sauce used by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
A sprinkle of it on some cooked greens or vegetables or a salad adds a bright note. Try a little on Summer Tomato Salad.
How I like it best is as a simple, uncooked pasta sauce.
Spaghetti con Colatura di Alici
2 oz (4 tbsps) Colatura di Alici
4 oz (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chopped parsley,
Crushed red pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti (no additional salt in pasta water)
While the pasta water is coming to a boil mix all ingredients except spaghetti in a serving dish. When pasta is done, add to serving dish and coat well with the sauce. No cheese on this dish.
If you can’t find Colatura di Alici in stores just Googleit – lots of places to get it on line.
The Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant is still there and still a great American seafood restaurant.
When is opened in 1913 on the lower level of Grand Central Terminal Woodrow Wilson was President It’s been around for a while. A beautiful restaurant and historic too, with its Guastavinotile ceiling.
The menu changes daily depending on what’s fresh and available at the fish market. Complete Menu
The restaurant is divided into roughly three sections – the main dining room, the bar and the oyster bar and counter. If I’m anywhere near Grand Central at lunch time I can’t resist stopping at the counter for my usual – a beer, a half dozen of something on the half-shell and an old-fashioned oyster pan roast. If you sit at the counter you can watch the chefs opening the shellfish and making the pan roast – some ingredients; chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, butter and cream. For dessert, either Key Lime Pie or Cheese Cake.
We were on our way to the Williamsburg Flea Market yesterday when we came across Fabbrica Restaurant & Bar. We were hungry and it was the first restaurant we came to when we got off the ferry (N. 6th St. and Kent Ave.) It was a fortuitous find, crowded but with room at the bar.
Their menu changes throughout the day – breakfast, brunch, lunch, late-lunch, etc. I was lucky to get there when Purgatorio was on it. That’s not Dante’s poem but eggs cooked in tomato sauce. It was the first time I’d ever seen it in a restaurant. My mother made it as a standard Monday lunch, using left over Sunday gravy. She called it Eggs in Purgatory.
I looked at the dinner menu and will definitely go back – hearty Italian food, interesting industrial décor, friendly service and pet-friendly too (dogs at the bar and outdoor tables).