I "Thank God I'm a Country Girl" but there are times I do yearn for fine fare. To get a grasp of just how rural we are...our nearest Wal Mart is almost an hour away. The "good grub" selection in our area is limited to chicken strips, cheese burgers, chicken fries and chili dogs.
So this past month when long time hunters visitng from New York City let us in on some of their Italian cooking secrets, I was on the front row taking notes. Tony who operates his own restaurant, Piazza Italia, shared his recipes for Bologna Meat Sauce, Bruschetta and Chicken Parmigiana. He also brought authentic hard salami, sweet salami, Pecorino Romano sheep milk cheese and brick oven baked bread.
Some Italian Cooking Tips...
Most Important-A Sharp Knife, Good Olive Oil and Fresh Ingredients. Tony said we have most of the ingredients around here, it's all in the way we prepare them.
Chicken Parmigiana--- On a good chopping board pound the chicken breast 1/4 inch thin or thinner, dip in egg, then roll in Progresso Bread Crumbs and fry, set aside. Spread a layer of thin fresh tomato sauce (pureed and cooked down) in the bottom of a casserole dish, then start layering the chicken planks topped with fresh mozzarella (the little round type, not the shredded) on each plank, more sauce then top with more mozzarella and fresh grated Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or so until cheeses are melted. When I made it for our family I used pork chops pounded out thin, it was even better than chicken.
For Bruschetta finely (I mean really fine without loosing a finger) chop Roma tomatoes, purple onions, fresh basil and oregano, olive oil ( A LOT), green pepper, salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice ( I added this to mine) Tony didn't. Prior to preparing the tomato mixture toast small slices of French bread until light and hollow. Top the bread slices with the tomato mixture, serve while you are preparing the other dishes. I believe the Italians prepare meals and eat much of the day. The time Tony spent preparing these dishes was probably 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
For the Bologna Sauce brown ground beef, add Progresso (his favorite) tomato sauce, 1 stalk of finely chopped celery, parsley, basil, clove of garlic minced. Simmer til thick. Prepare pasta.
Tony's recommend pasta was De Cecco Linguine.
After allowing guest to munch on Bruschetta everyone sat down to a bowl of linguine smothered in Bologna Sauce along with Chicken Parmigiana.
I "replicated" (sort of ) Tony's meal and served it to around 25 family and friends. It was such a hit that we've decided to make it a monthly event.
Tomorrow night, an Irish theme complete with Sherpherd's Pie, Cabbage and Corned Beef, Irish Chicken Stew and Dumplings and for dessert, Blarney Stones. No Irish hunters in the vicintiy so guess I'll be on my "Bloody" own.