Category Archives: Italy

Ossobuco Alla Cipriani

Ossobuco is a classic Milanese dish that is made with slices of veal shanks that are braised in a tomato based broth until they are tender enough to be eaten with a fork. The name ossobuco translates to ‘bone with a hole’ because the cut of veal shows the circular cross section of the shank surrounded by meat.

This ossobucco recipe is from Harry’s Bar in Venice, which is famed for it’s invention of the Bellini and classic Italian food that have attracted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Humphrey Bogart and many others.

We tried this recipe on Sunday night and it was fantastic.

Tips:

Harry’s recommends for you to ask your butcher for the hind shanks because they are meatier and more tender than the front ones and not to remove the membrane that surrounds the meat.

Ossobuco Alla Cipriani recipe adapted from The Harry’s Bar Cookbook

Ingredients

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 1 ½ – 2 inch slices of veal shank
  • salt
  • pepper
  • flour for dredging
  • 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ lb mushrooms, finely chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 to 4 cups hot chicken stock or beef stock

For the gremolada:

  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Preparation

Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed casserole or Dutch oven large enough to hold the veal slices in a single layer (it’s very important to keep them in only 1 layer).

Season the veal with salt and pepper and coat the pieces with flour, shaking off any excess.  When the oil is hot, add the veal pieces and cook over medium heat, turning once, until they are browned.  Try not to let the veal curl up at the sides.  Remove veal from the pan and set aside.

Pour off the fat from the pan and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the celery, carrots, onion and mushrooms.  Cook the vegetables, stirring frequently, until they are soft – about 15 minutes.

Turn up the heat, add the white wine, and boil, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated.  Stir in the crushed tomatoes and 2 cups of the hot stock.

Carefully arrange the veal slices in the casserole dish in a single layer and spoon the vegetable mixture over them.  If the liquid does not cover the meat, add more stock.  If you need more than 4 cups of stock to cover the meat, then you should transfer everything to a smaller casserole dish.

When the liquid comes to a boil, lower the heat, cover the casserole tightly, and simmer gently for 2 to 2 ½ hours or until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork.  Uncover the casserole during the last 30 minutes of cooking to reduce the sauce a bit.  (Alternatively, you could bake in the oven at 350F for the same length of time0.

While the meat is cooking, chop the ingredients for the gremolada and combine them.

Ten minutes before serving, remove the meat to a deep serving platter and keep it warm.  Boil the sauce to reduce it a bit more if it’s very thin.  Stir in the gremolada and simmer for a minute or 2.  Then spoon the sauce over the meat.  Serve with Risotto or other accompaniment.

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The Perfect Meatball Recipe

I’m always skeptical when a food magazine touts that they have found ‘The Best’ anything so when I read Molly Wizenberg’s (writer of the blog Orangette) article In Search of the Perfect Meatball in October’s Bon Appétit I knew I had to put her claim to the test.

I have made a few different meatball recipes in the past but all have been oven baked.  My mom has always baked hers and they are amazing so I have never tried to make them any other way.  When I read about Molly’s search for the perfect meatball I realized that this lady clearly knows her meatballs and might be worth trusting, despite the fact that she was describing ways of cooking meatballs that I had never even considered.  Molly claimed to have found a nearly perfect meatball at Seattle’s Cafe Lag0 – not only that, but she was able to get and share their family meatball recipe.   I was intrigued by this recipe because you cook the meatballs in the sauce on the stove and because the sauce has a stick of butter in it – something I have never used in a red sauce before.  The ingredients are all pretty simple – so simple that the sauce contains only canned whole tomatoes (with juices), 2 onions, and a stick of butter.  I thought that surely it would need some other herbs but as it turned out, the meatballs added all the flavor that the sauce needed.

This photo: Bon Appetit

According to Molly, the secret to the meatball texture is to mix the mixture of meat, cheese, bread crumbs, herbs, and eggs with your hands but the key is to shape your hands like claws and twist them around the mixture until it is just blended.  Sounded far-fetched but I gave it a try.

They turned out so well that I was surprised I had made them myself!  We served the meatballs over a bed of fresh herbed pasta with grated parmesan cheese and a bottle of Sangiovese.  The meatballs were rich, cheesy, and had the perfect amount of moisture, which I assume came from cooking them in the sauce on the stove rather than baking them.  I couldn’t help myself from over eating on Saturday night…and again on Sunday for lunch.  This recipe is now officially my ‘go to’ meatball recipe and Molly was right – I do feel ‘set for life’ now that I have a great meatball in my repertoire.

Here’s the recipe – I highly recommend giving this a try with fresh pasta, which took it to a whole new level.  Don’t be fooled by the long list of ingredients – it’s very simple to make!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit (October 2010)

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Ingredients

Sauce

  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved, tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, halved through root end
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) salt

Meatballs

  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French or country-style bread (I turned herbed croutons into bread crumbs)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces ground beef (15% fat)
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1 cup finely ground (not grated) Parmesan cheese (I finely grated mine using a box grater)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)

Preparation

Sauce

  • Combine tomatoes with juice, butter, onions, and salt in large wide pot. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard onions. Using immersion blender (I was able to just use a fork and wisk to achieve the consistency that I needed), process sauce briefly to break up any large pieces of tomato (texture should be even but not completely smooth). Season sauce with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat.

Meatballs

  • Combine breadcrumbs and milk in small bowl; stir until breadcrumbs are evenly moistened. Let stand 10 minutes.
  • Place beef and pork in large bowl and break up into small chunks. Add 1 cup ground/finely grated Parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  • Whisk eggs to blend in small bowl; whisk in garlic. Add to meat mixture.
  • Using hands, squeeze milk from breadcrumbs, reserving milk (I wasn’t able to get any milk out).  Add breadcrumbs to meat mixture. Using hands, quickly and gently mix meat mixture just until all ingredients are evenly combined  using ‘the claw’ technique (do not overmix). Chill mixture at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • Moisten hands with some of reserved milk from breadcrumbs (not necessary), then roll meat mixture between palms into golf-ball-size balls, occasionally moistening hands with milk as needed and arranging meatballs in single layer in sauce in pot. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (mine were a little larger so I cooked for 30 min). DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.
  • Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.
  • Using slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to platter. Add pasta to sauce in pot and toss to coat. Divide pasta among 6 plates. Top each serving with meatballs. Sprinkle meatballs with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

 

Antico Pizza – Atlanta’s Finest

 

I have never been to Italy, but I know a good pizza when I see one and Antico Pizza has arguably the best pizza in Atlanta and after winning the prestigious Top in Class Pizzaria award from the Festa Della Pizza in Naples it is quite possibly the best pizza in the U.S.  I’d been hearing about this place since it opened last October but never got around to checking it out until recently and ended up eating there twice in one week – hey, I had to make up for lost time!

Giovanni di Palma

The owner of this little gem is Giovanni Di Palma, who was raised in New York but whose family came from Naples.  In fact, one of the documents from his grandfather’s immigration into the U.S. in 1914 is proudly hanging on the wall in the front of the restaurant – the Jersey Shore cast would be so proud.   

Orders are taken at the front and the seating area is back in the kitchen so you can watch all the action.  The seating is communal at long picnic tables and on busy nights every surface becomes a potential table top for pizza and people don’t seem to mind standing while eating. 

View from my seat in the kitchen

The quality of ingredients really shines in these pizzas, such as the San Felice flour that is used in the dough is milled in the town where the owner’s grandfather was raised.  The dough is hand tossed by the pizzaiolos right in front of you and then slathered in a sauce made of hand crushed San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes that would make an Italian grandmother drool and then topped with Mozzarella di Bufala and Fior di Latta Mozzarella that they fly in fresh from Naples each week.   It all comes together with the lightning fast cooking time in the Acunto ovens that were imported from Italy, weighing in at 10,000 lbs each and heating up to over 900 degrees – now that’s an oven!  I’ve thought about how to replicate this extreme heat cooking process at home but until I can figure out how to rig my oven door to not lock during the clean setting I’ll just have to keep coming back to this place, which is fine by me.

The pizzas cook so quickly (in 60 seconds!) that you hardly have time to find a seat before your pizza comes out of one of the 3 piping hot wood fired ovens  but it always seems to magically work out that a seat opens up right as your pizza number is called.

One of my favorite things about this place is watching Di Palma’s son work his charm on the customers.  Just watch this video and you’ll want to go see him in action too:

Oh, and apart from the food another great thing about this place is that it’s BYOB! Don’t forget to bring your own wine glasses though unless you like drinking wine out of plastic cups – stemless glasses are highly recommended since the picnic tables shake every time someone gets up!

The cannolis are also a must – so don’t forget to save room at the end!