Category Archives: Italian

Chicken Marsala with Pancetta and Cream

Chicken Marsala with Pancetta and Cream

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chicken Marsala with Pancetta and Cream
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Jill had a hankering for pasta tonight. For some odd reason I wasn’t wanting anything cheesy or tomato based so I settled on a simple Marsala sauce. Marsala wine is an Italian wine produced around Sicily that is on the sweet side. You can buy the “cooking wine” but I prefer to use the real thing.

Chicken Marsala is supposedly a popular dish in Italy to celebrate their wine with simple ingredients. If you think of pairing sweet, I naturally think salty or earthy. Mushroom and onions would be nice but I kept it pretty simple and used pancetta with a creamy sauce and wide egg noodles.

Ingredients:

2 free range trimmed chicken breasts
2 oz of Pancetta (cubed)
Egg noodles for two
Parsley for garnish
1/2 cup of Marsala Wine
Touch of cream
pat of butter
Seasoned AP flour


Directions:

1. Slice your chicken breasts in to thin (consistent) slices. Like chicken tender sized. Make a seasoned flour mixture (pepper, salt, paprika) and dredge your chicken and set aside.
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2. In a pan on medium heat add your pancetta and cook until browned. Remove the pancetta and let it rest on a paper towel. IMG_9953

3. Once your pancetta is cooked and removed, add your flour dredged chicken and brown it on both sides. remove and set aside to rest. IMG_9957

4. Remove some of the pancetta drippings but keep a little. To make the sauce add the Marsala wine and let it reduce by 30%. Add a pat of butter and some cream to your desired color and taste. IMG_9958

5. Cook your noodles to package directions. Reserve some pasta water and then strain it. Put the pancetta back into the sauce along with the chicken. Now slowly add your pasta continually stirring to coat the entire dish. If it gets too thick, add some pasta water to thin it out. Serve in a bowl and top with chopped parsley.
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Pepperoni Rolls (DoubleDave’s)

Pepperoni Rolls

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pepperoni Rolls (DoubleDave’s)
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As I mentioned before I went to university at Texas A&M a while back. While still a small town, the number of places to eat are exponentially greater than when I attended. La Taqueria, Chicken Oil Co, Dixie Chicken, Fajita Ritas, Grapevine, Toms BBQ, Deluxe, Freebirds, and DoubleDave’s were a few of the ole favs. Many of them have gone belly-up but one that is still kicking is DoubleDave’s Pizzaworks. http://www.doubledaves.com/menu/handcraftedfavorites.php

Now pizza is an obvious college food staple, and while DoubleDave’s makes pizza, they were known for their pepperoni rolls. They are rolled-up pizza dough stuffed with smoked provolone and pepperoni. You dip them into ranch and/or marinara sauce. I am an unabashed two saucer while Jill only dips red. DD’s franchised and have since expanded across Texas and even Oklahoma. We don’t have them in my neck of the woods, so when we go catch a game we always make a point to stop.

For business I took a trip to West Virgina and noticed that they had pepperoni rolls all over the place. They sold them in gas stations, restaurants etc.. They are more buttery than the DD’s version.

Jill was wanting pizza and I thought of DD’s and wanted to see if I could make a proper roll. These turned out well. I used a packaged crust instead of making my own and it had a buttery flavor similar to what I had in West Virgina and less chew than sturdy pizza dough. Had I not had DD’s,
I wouldn’t have noticed. Still a great snack or quick pizza like dinner.

Ingredients:
Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough
Pepperoni
Smoked Provolone
Pizza Sauce
Ranch

Directions:
1. These are really simple so lay out your dough into a thin layer. As best you can, cut triangles. Mine don’t look that great and in fact look like ‘triangles by kindergartners”. IMG_9566

2. I put my pepperoni in a small sauce pan and warm them up and render out a little fat. Not a necessary step at all. I also then removed those pepperonis and put them on a paper towel and drained the pain of extra grease. To that pan I smashed a clove of garlic and added some olive oil to infuse it with garlic.

3. Ideally you will take your triangle and at the base place your smoked provolone and pepperonis and roll them up. Try to enclose the roll as best you can but truth be told when that cheese leaks out onto your pan it makes a lovely little crispy cheese bit.
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Serve them up with marinara and ranch.
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Spaghetti and Roasted Meatballs

Spaghetti and Roasted Meatballs

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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While watching FoodNetwork’s “The Kitchen” show, they were siting that their poll states that spaghetti and meatballs is the number one comfort food. I love a good spaghetti and meatballs but in the south I would bet that fried chicken, dumplings, BBQ or some casserole would top the list.

When I think of Spaghetti and Meatballs, I think of my brother. My mom makes every kid’s favorite dish for his or her birthday. It’s funny because once she locks in that it is “your” favorite she doesn’t depart. My brother must have said he liked her spaghetti and meatballs in high school and to this day when we get together for birthdays you can bet that on my brothers day he is getting his spaghetti and meatballs.

So back to the recipe.. Geoffrey Zakarian showed how he roasted his meatballs. I usually fry mine in a cast iron skillet but typically have to babysit them by rolling around to get a good crust on each side. Roasting is a no fuss way of accomplishing the same thing without the hassle.

GZ has been hitting it out of the park with his recipes. He adds a few unique steps that really make a huge difference. I did depart from his recipe quite a bit. Mine was absolutely fabulous and I am sure his is even better. He used panko bread crumbs but I had two heels of my sourdough loaf left and used them. He also uses ground pork and pork sausage but I didn’t feel like grinding my pork so went with Turkey Sausage (kinda odd but it worked). I did screw up the noodles by over salting my water. The water is supposed to taste like the sea but not the Dead Sea.

Ingredients:
Meatballs
5 tbs of bread crumbs (Panko, I used Sourdough)
6 oz of heavy cream
1/2 cup of finely diced yellow onions
3 cloves of finely diced garlic
1 tbs of finely diced fresh rosemary
1/4 cup of finely diced parsley
1 egg
5 OZ of grated parmsean cheese
1 tbs of canola oil
12 oz of ground veal
12 oz of ground turkey breakfast sausage

Sauce
20 oz of San Marzano Tomatoes or Rao’s jarred Arrabiata Sauce
1/2 finely diced onions
1 tbs of Basil (fresh if you have it)
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbs of Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 cup of Red Wine
1 tbs of tomato paste

Spaghetti noodles cooked al dente
Parmesan cheese to top

Directions:
Here is you tackle this. The meatballs need about an hour to set up so tackle them first. If you like concentrated sauce like I do you can make them and start your sauce right after that and let it simmer OR you can start it right after you put them in the oven.

1. Pulse your bread crumbs in a food processor until they are fine. Now this was odd to me but pour them into a bowl and add heavy cream. the crumbs are going to suck this cream up and you are going to be left with a pretty thick bowl of goo. GZ used panko so I don’t know if they reacted the same as my sourdough crumbs. Don’t freak out.

2. Take the onions with a tbs of canola oil in small pot or the same pan you’re going to use for your sauce. Sweat them out on medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Then chop and add your garlic and rosemary. Cook for about 3 minutes and then remove from the heat to let the mixture cool.

3. Now everything you see in the meatball ingredients goes into a mixer. Mix this until everything is incorporated. You might need to do some hand work on the bread crumbs if you get lumps. Roll the balls into the size you like. I prefer smaller meatballs to maximize the amount of crust I can get with each bite. Put the meatballs onto a sheet pan, cover and let them set up in the fridge for an hour. You can cheat if you’re time crunched. IMG_9525IMG_9526

4. Two stepper… In a preheated oven at 425 degrees place your meatballs in the middle rack. Set your timer to 25 minutes. Right after start your sauce.

5. Stay with me here. You are going to have three pots on the oven. One for cooking the pasta, one for the sauce and the third we are going to use as a landing spot for the pasta.

For the sauce follow the same process you did for the meatballs by sweating your onions in a medium to large pot on medium heat. When onions are soft, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the rest of your sauce ingredients and let it simmer. If you like rich sauce cook it longer but careful not to burn it. IMG_9527

6. When your meatballs are done, remove them and set them aside. Start your pasta water by bringing it to a boil with salted water. 3 tbs or so of Kosher salt. I don’t know the size of your pot or how high your fill it. Cook to the directions on the box to get them al dente. IMG_9528IMG_9530

7. Ladle in a cup or so of the sauce into the third pan/pot and then take your noodles directly from the pot using tongs and add them to the pan. The point of this it to introduce the noodles and the sauce so that you get full coverage. Add the meatballs to the non-noodle sauce pan to get those two acquainted.
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Serve by plating your noodles first and then top with the meatballs. You can leave the extra sauce on the side or spoon a little on top. Apparently that technique of putting sauce on top is a “no no” but I don’t see big deal.

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GZ’s Ricotta Gnocchi

GZ's Ricotta Gnocchi

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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GZ’s Ricotta Gnocchi
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On Saturday morning, I have developed a habit of watching “The Kitchen” on Food Network. This last episode they have a segment called Geoffrey’s Sunday Dinner or something like that. GZ cooked up a really simple ricotta gnocchi that seemed really good or the other hosts were good actors.

Jill has been traveling and so I thought it would be a perfect dish to make to welcome her home. For the most part I followed GZ’s recipe. My grocery was sold out of pancetta so while I could have used bacon instead, I went with prosciutto. Given it wont render out the fat that pancetta or bacon would, I added it with the garlic because it will crisp up pretty quickly. I also had a red onion on top for a salad I made earlier so I used that.

This turned out perfectly. Overall really simple but serves and appears sophisticated. The gnocchi is super soft and delicate and the simple tomato sauce is just a perfect comforting dinner. For the guys out there, this might be a good Valentines Day dinner.

The link to Geoffrey Zakarian’s recipe on FoodNetwork.
 http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/geoffrey-zakarian/ricotta-gnocchi.html?oc=linkback
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Ingredients
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups AP Flour
Basil leaves to garnish

Prosciutto Tomato Sauce
1 package of prosciutto diced. GZ used pancetta
1/2 cup diced  red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
smidge of anchovy paste
One 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1/4-1/2 cup of Red wine (Malbec)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Make your gnocchi by combining the ricotta, Parmesan, olive oil, eggs and 1 tsp of Kosher salt in a bowl.  Whisk until well combined and then add the all purpose flour in the thirds. First third of flour,  stir until mixed together and then the 2nd third, stir and finally the last third of flour.   Make the a ball and set the dough aside. Olive got hit with some flour
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2. Make your sauce by softening the red onion in a oiled pan on medium heat.  Once sweated out add your prosciutto and garlic and stir for another minute or two. Pour in your tomatoes and let that mixture simmer.
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3. Bring another pot of salted water to a boil while prepping your gnocchi.  Dust a counter or cutting board with a little flour. Take your dough in three batches. Roll it into a “snake” shape you used to make when you were a kid playing around with play dough.

Cut little bite sized pieces and place them on a cooking sheet lined with parchment and semolina flour or AP flour.  Once all the dough is cut, cover with a towel until you’re ready to boil them.
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4. Cook the gnocchi in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove with a spider and add them into your sauce.  Cook and and let the gnocchi absorb some of the sauce.
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Serve into a bowl and top with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.
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Pizza Progress

Pizza Process
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So I have blogged a few times about my attempt to find my “go to” pizza crust recipe. Me and dough have a love hate relationship. The dough plays hard to get for sure. My pizza crust goal is to make something similar to Campisi’s or il Fratelli’s. It’s a thin crust that isn’t quite cracker and seemingly has more fat or less rise.

I have tried Bobby’s Flay’s crust, Jamie Oliver’s and decided to give Tyler Florence’s a try given my luck with his Carolina Pulled Pork recipe. He essentially uses a 00 flour that is high gluten and therefore high elasticity. My struggle remains getting it thin enough. The taste is fine and even good but I want to get my dough technique down before I start fine tuning the taste of the crust.

One thing I tried this time was rolling it out on an oil rubbed pizza pan and putting it directly on my pizza stone. It was pretty chilly the other night so I probably should have turned it sooner but we like our pie “well done”.

Definitely making strides but still not there yet.

Before the oven
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Creamy Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Roasted Chicken Pasta

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Roasted Chicken Pasta

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Creamy Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Roasted Chicken Pasta
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Still cleaning out the Thanksgiving items and had some heavy cream that I needed to use. Earlier this week we had the mushroom asiago pasta dish. Today I wanted to pivot and punch it with some bright acidic tomato tastes. As I mentioned before, Jill is funny with chicken so I have to cut it up or butterfly it.

This turned out really well. The sun dried tomato and basil spread gives it a rich tomato flavor beyond what canned tomatoes can do. It’s much more concentrated but the cream really balances it out. The herbs make it fresh and lively. Really good dish that was simple to make and different from your typical sauce. We cleaned our bowls.
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Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
Italian dressing

Sauce:
2 shallots sliced and diced
4 garlic cloves
6.5 oz Sun Dried Tomato & Basil spread (Mezzetta)
1 cup of chicken broth
½ heavy cream

Pinch of thyme
Pinch of basil
Pinch of oregano
Pinch of Red Pepper flakes
Pasta cooked in brined water

Top with fresh thyme and basil and Parmesan and/or Asiago cheese.
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Directions:
1. Heat your oven to a roasting temp of 400. Trim your chicken and salt and pepper your breasts. Rub Italian dressing on your chicken breasts and roast them for about 40mins. (175 degrees internal).

2. Sauce: Butter in the skillet with shallots and cook until translucent and add minced garlic. Add your herbs and seasoning and stir for a minute and then add your chicken broth. Bring to a boil and let is reduce by half. Turn down the heat and add your cream stirring.

3. Cook your pasta while your chicken is roasting.

4. Finally bring it all together by adding your roasted chicken and pasta and stir until well combined. Add your cheese and fresh herbs before serving.
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Spaghetti Squash Turkey Marinara

Spaghetti Squash Turkey Marinara
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This recipe is a great Paleo, Whole30, WW, GF, DF, 21 Day Body Makeover (good gosh) Italian dish that mimics a rich marinara meat sauce with angel hair pasta. Does it? No parm or goat cheese or more salt would be much more appetizing but it’s pretty good.

Ingredients:
spaghetti squash
lean organic ground turkey
7 cloves of minced garlic
1 yellow onion
28 0z of Natural Crushed Tomatoes (no preservatives, sugars etc..)
Fresh Basil
2 tbs of Coconut Oil (unrefined) or Ghee
Crushed Red Pepper
Smidge of Kosher Salt

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Directions:
1. Split and scoop out the seeds of the squash. Flesh side down put into a 400 degree oven and roast it for 40-50 minutes. Remove and let it cool.

2. Mince your onions and put into a medium heated pot with 1 tbs of oil/ghee until onions are softened. Add your ground turkey and cook out the pink. Now add your minced garlic and crushed red pepper (optional) and stir for a minute until finally adding your tomatoes with all the juice. Turn down to a simmer and let the flavors concentrate into a thick sauce. Add fresh torn basil before serving.

3. Take your cooled squash and work it with a fork to create spaghetti like noodles. Mix with your sauce to your liking and serve.
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