In a book full of must-have Italian-American recipes, this is my favorite

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In the fall of 2019, I started testing the recipes from Italian-American, the cookbook of Scott Tacinelli and Angie rito, the chefs of Don Angie, a cozy and bubbly (you guessed it) Italian-American restaurant in New York’s West Village. For six wonderful months I made my way through gallons of olive oil, huge chunks of Pecorino Toscano and really impressive amounts of garlic while I cooked the recipes in the book. I had such a great time (and ate so well) that when I was asked to write about a recipe that I loved, I almost couldn’t choose.

Here are some of the favorites: The hot sauce fra diavolo, which is downright awesome. The toasted cauliflower and pine nut spread that I ate by the spoonful. The San Marzano tomato sauce in 10 minutes, so quick and incredibly delicious. Spaghetti and over-the-top meatball frittata! Any of the lasagna! Get the book and put all of those recipes right at the top of your to-do list. But first, I have to tell you about the recipe that immediately struck me: the mussels stuffed with pepperoni rice.

Alone in the kitchen with Scott and Angie’s recipes, I shook my head in glee as I read the recipes, dreaming of being a fly on the wall during the recipe brainstorming sessions. So many recipes tell stories in their ingredient lists and techniques, stories to follow from New Jersey to Ohio to Manhattan’s Chinatown to the Italian city of Trieste, where the cuisine is influenced by the region’s roots. in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Each ingredient, each step is intrinsic to the recipe, and nothing is lost. Each recipe is rambling and clever.

Italian-American: red sauce classics and new essentials

$ 35.00, Amazon

With stuffed mussels, for example, you start by cooking the mussels. It’s simple – the Italian triumvirate of olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes plus a few sprigs of parsley and enough white wine to help the mussels steam open – but the step does. a five-minute concentrated broth, which you use to cook the rice while the mussels are cooling in the refrigerator.

And the rice! Composed of short-grain white rice cooked with white wine and pepperoni, the dish is both Italian-like Risotto and Spanish Paella. Like risotto, it’s made with short-grain white rice and dry white wine, and you stir it often to bring out the creamy starch. And like paella, it accompanies rice with mussels and tasty smoked pork sausages. In this case, it’s pepperoni, which resides firmly in the American end of Italian-American cuisine while mimicking the more traditional salumi. I love this tip in the recipe: You grind the pepperoni into rubble in the food processor and then fry it in olive oil so that the fat turns a slippery bright orange. That pepperoni fat, plus that mussel broth from before, is what you cook the rice in, its bright color and flavor creeping through it all.

And all of this can be done in advance if you are hosting. When you are a little away from serving, simply remove the top shell of the mussel, break off the meat, add a spoonful of rice and slide them into a hot oven to warm and brown them. Serve with a large bowl of Scott and Angie’s Lemon Aioli, which embodies another lesson I learned from Italian-American: A little sugar does a lot of good in the salty world, here it wakes up the whole dish. There is a pinch of white sugar in the pepperoni rice and two whole tablespoons in the lemon aioli, which is store bought mayo with unexpected amounts of lemon zest and juice, garlic and salt. It’s a delicate and delicious counterpart in a recipe (and cookbook) so smart you’ll feel like a certified smarty yourself.

Get the recipe:

Pepperoni Rice Stuffed Mussels

Angie rito
Scott Tacinelli

Italian-American: red sauce classics and new essentials

Originally appeared on Enjoy your meal


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