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Who Needs a Reservation? Rao’s Meatballs with Marinara Sauce in Your Home

No matter what large city you may be in there are always iconic places that you know of that can be great to dine at. New York City is chockful of places like this and if you are a lover of Italian food, Rao’s is a place you likely know of and would love to visit. If you have ever had the good fortune of dining there yourself you are among the very lucky. Rao’s is well-known for being the toughest reservation to get in New York City, not only because they have a highly-regarded menu but simply because they have very few tables to go around and a pretty regular clientele that takes them. Just because you can’t sit at a table at Rao’s doesn’t mean you can’t take the opportunity to enjoy one of their Italian classics,  such as meatballs with their famous red sauce. The recipe, from the New York Times, provides you the opportunity to make this signature dish on your own, saving you time, money and frustration.

Rao’s Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

For the Sauce:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces salt pork, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons minced onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 28-ounce cans imported Italian crushed tomatoes

6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Pinch of dried oregano

Salt and ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground lean beef

½ pound ground veal

½ pound ground pork

2 large eggs

1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 small garlic clove, minced

Salt and ground black pepper

2 cups fine dry bread crumbs

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, lightly smashed

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat, then add the salt pork. Sauté the pork until the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the salt pork. Add the onion and sauté it  until it is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté it just until it is softened. Add the tomatoes with their juice and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 45 minutes. Add the basil, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the sauce for 1 minute more.

To make the meatballs, in a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, veal and pork. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley and minced garlic, then salt and pepper as desired. Add the bread crumbs and mix everything well. Slowly add up to 2 cups water, 1/2 cup at a time, until the mixture is moist; all the water may not be needed. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2 -inch meatballs.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and sauté it until it is lightly browned, about 1 to 2 minutes, then discard the garlic. Working in batches and taking care not to crowd the pan, add meatballs and fry them until the undersides are brown and slightly crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes. Turn and brown the other sides of the meatballs, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the cooked meatballs to paper towels to drain, and then add them to the marinara sauce. Mix the sauce and meatballs gently and serve.

This recipe is very simple and I have found that really great-tasting, classic Italian dishes are often this way. They don’t need to use a lot of complicated methods or fancy ingredients; they stick to basics and offer great flavor. You can use a basic meatloaf mix to make the meatballs for the mixture of fat and flavor they go for or stick to your own and just use basic ground beef if you like, but if you are trying to imitate the flavor of a Rao’s meal to try it out, I would try to stick to as close of the recipe as you can to see if it is something you enjoy. I did go the extra mile and purchased the more expensive San Marzano tomatoes for this recipe to see if it made a difference over what I traditionally used. The sauce was very tasty, allowing the basic tomato flavor to shine through with nice fresh basil adding to it. The meatballs also were very simple but had good taste to them as well. All you need after that is some pasta, nice crunchy bread, a good bottle of wine and some great mood lighting and you can recreate your own Rao’s experience in your dining room or kitchen. It is an easy enough recipe to make it part of your meal rotation.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on October 11, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner, Eating Out, Pasta, Sauce

 

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A Picture- Less Posting of Recipes – Fried Shrimp and Sweet Potato Oven Fries

After taking a nice long break for the Labor Day weekend, I am ready to get back to posting some recipes. There are times where I try out and cooked different recipes and just get caught up in the moment or daily life and forget to take pictures of whatever it is that I have made that day. This leaves me with a bunch of recipes that I do not have pictures for but that I have actually tried. I do not really like to post recipes without posting a picture that goes along with them, even though most of the pictures that I take are hardly what I would call “professional grade” and probably do not make that much of a difference. However I do like to show pictures of that people reading do know that I have actually tried out the recipe being posted so they can see what it looks like when I do it. That being said I do have some recent recipes I have tried that I either failed to take pictures of or, since I recently had to reset my iPhone, have lost pictures along the way because they were still on my phone before I could transfer them over to the computer. Two such recipes are those that I have tried from New York Times Cooking from Mark Bittman and Jonathan Reynolds. They are recipes for oven baked sweet potato fries and for a very basic fried shrimp. Both are very simple to make and allowed me to have a very quick dinner one night when we were scrambling around trying to find something to do.

Oven Sweet Potato Fries

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the sweet potatoes into sticks  of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long, and toss them with the olive oil.

Mix the garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and toss them with the sweet potatoes. Spread the sweet potatoes out on 2 rimmed baking sheets lines with parchment paper.

Bake the sweet potatoes until they are brown and crisp on the bottom, about 15 minutes, then flip the potatoes and cook them until the other side is crisp, about 10 minutes longer. Serve the potatoes hot.

This was a very easy recipe to follow and do and provides you with a perfect alternative to actually frying the potatoes. All they needed was that little bit of olive oil to really make them come out crisp and tasty. They were the perfect accompaniment to a fast fried shrimp recipe.

Basic Fried Shrimp

1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil for frying

2 pounds small, large or jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails intact

1 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 cup cracker meal, breadcrumbs (fresh or store-bought) or 1 cup of crushed crackers

In a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 365 degrees on an instant-read thermometer or candy thermometer inserted into the oil.

Place the shrimp in a medium bowl. Mix the milk and eggs in a glass measuring cup with a fork until they are well blended and pour the mixture over the shrimp. Toss the shrimp until they are well coated and drain the shrimp in a colander.

Roll the shrimp in the cracker meal or breadcrumbs and shake off  any excess.

Fry the shrimp in the oil until they are golden in color, turning the shrimp as necessary, about 1 to 2 minutes total. Remove the shrimp from the pan with a strainer or Chinese spider (also called a skimmer) and shake off the excess oil. Serve the shrimp with tartar sauce or cocktail sauce, if desired.

You could always spice up the shrimp a bit by adding some other spices like paprika, chili powder, Old Bay seasoning or any other spices that you might like. Mix the spices in with the breadcrumbs and they will pick up the flavor nicely. The shrimp take no time at all to cook and you may have to do them in batches if you make the full two pounds so you do not overcrowd the pan. They go very well with tartar sauce or cocktail sauce and would even be perfect to have in a po’boy sandwich or even over a salad or with a steak. I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of them; they came out quite nicely, with a nice golden brown color and great flavor to them since I had purchased some Wild American shrimp and used them for the recipe.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Seafood

 

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No-Bake Desserts for Lazy Days – NYT Cooking

No-Bake Desserts for Lazy Days – NYT Cooking.

When the weather gets warm you may not feel much like doing any baking for desserts at home or to bring to parties. The NYT Cooking site has put together some great options for desserts that involve no baking at all so you can put some great things together even on the days when you might be feeling too hot, too tired or too lazy to bake. Check it out!

 

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Bacon 25 Ways – NYTimes.com

Bacon 25 Ways – NYTimes.com.

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like bacon, and it can be a very versatile ingredient, fitting into every course of a meal and breakfast, lunch and dinner to boot. You can also cook it in a variety of ways – in the microwave, on the stovetop, on the grill or in the oven. In the New York Times, Mark Bittman has put together 25 easy and fantastic ways that you can use bacon in various dishes and ways. Check it out!

 

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A Super Holiday Appetizer – Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze

Finding just the right appetizers when you are hosting a holiday party or having everyone over for a holiday meal can always seem like a challenge. You want to go beyond just having cheese and crackers or chips and dip and want to put out something memorable that makes a great snack before the main entrée or a fantastic addition to a buffet table. One of my favorites is to always do something different with meatballs. You can do so many different things with meatballs and a great sauce and then all you need is a platter and some toothpicks and you have the perfect finger food. I came across this recipe recently from the New York Times and decided to try out the recipe for scallion meatballs with a soy-ginger glaze. I initially made a batch and we had some for dinner that night and I froze the rest to have on hand for appetizers at a later date. They are easy to make, make great use of turkey and the glaze is out of this world.

Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze

For the Sauce:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup mirin sweet rice wine, or 1/2 cup sake with 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup chopped peeled ginger

1 teaspoon ground coriander

4 whole black peppercorns

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground turkey

4 large or 6 small scallions, finely chopped

1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil

To make the sauce, bring the brown sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan set over medium-high heat, stirring the mixture until the sugar melts completely. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the soy sauce, mirin, chopped ginger, coriander and the peppercorns. Simmer, stirring the sauce occasionally, until the sauce has been reduced by about half, about 30 minutes. Strain the sauce through a sieve to remove the solids and discard the solids.

To make the meatballs, mix the ground turkey, scallions, cilantro, beaten egg, sesame oil and the soy sauce and several grinds of black pepper in a bowl. Roll tablespoons of the mixture together into balls. in a skillet set over medium-high heat, generously coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, place the meatballs in the pan and cook, turning, until the meatballs are browned all over and cooked through inside, about 8 minutes per batch. Arrange the meatballs on a heated platter and spoon a little sauce over each meatball and serve the meatballs with toothpicks. If desired, keep the meatballs in the sauce warm in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve.

The meatballs themselves are very tasty with the scallions adding a nice layer of flavor to them, but the sauce is the real winner in this dish. The ginger, soy sauce and mirin really stand out to make the sauce sweet and a little sticky and packed with flavor. I could see using this sauce over a variety of other items, such as a pork tenderloin or pork chops or even chicken pieces or boneless chicken breasts. The meatballs are a perfect appetizer for any type of party and you can make them and keep them warm until you are ready for the party.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

soy glazed meatballs

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Appetizers, Cooking, Dinner, Gravy, Holidays, Poultry, Sauce, Turkey

 

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The 20 Most Popular Recipes of 2014 – NYT Cooking

The 20 Most Popular Recipes of 2014 – NYT Cooking.

Here are the 20 most popular recipes for 2014 in the New York Times Cooking site. I have tried a bunch of recipes from NYT Cooking this year and they have all been fantastic, so you are likely to find some great ideas for something new or a way to change up a classic recipe you have been using for years. Check it out!

 

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Simple and Satisfying – Butternut Squash Polenta with Sausage and Onion

I always seem to forget about polenta. It’s not something I do on purpose, it’s just not a dish that I think of very often to make and then I realize just how versatile and great-tasting it can be. Sean was just saying to me the other day that we had not had polenta in a long time and he was right. I couldn’t even remember the last I made it and we always have some around the house to make. Polenta, much like it is with rice, oatmeal, grits and the like, is so great because you can add lots of things to it to bring out even greater flavors. That’s what I really liked about this particular recipe from the New York Times for butter nut squash polenta with sausage and onion. It makes great use of one of my favorite fall vegetables by incorporating it into the creamy polenta, adding another great layer of flavor and texture to the polenta itself.

Butternut Squash Polenta with Sausage and Onion

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed

1 bay leaf

1 cup fine polenta (not quick cooking)

1 cup seeded and peeled butternut squash, coarsely grated

3 tablespoons butter

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed

1 1/2 pounds sweet or hot Italian pork sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

2 teaspoons minced rosemary

2 onions, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/4-inch half moons

1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

Rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)

In a large pot set over medium-high heat, combine 4 1/2 cups of water, the kosher salt and the bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil and then slowly whisk in the polenta. Stir in the butternut squash to the polenta. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the polenta and the squash are very tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. If the mixture is getting too thick while cooking, add a little bit more water to the pot to thin it out. Stir in the butter and the black pepper. Taste the polenta and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if it is needed.

While the polenta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the Italian sausage, the rosemary and the fennel seeds (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is golden and cooked through, about 7 to 10 minutes. You can cook the sausages in batches if necessary, adding more olive oil to the pan if the pan looks dry. Transfer the sausages to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Add more olive oil to the skillet if it looks dry and then add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Return the sausage to the pan and stir it together with the onions to heat the sausage through. Spoon the polenta into bowls and top it with the sausage and onion and garnish with the rosemary sprigs if you like.

It’s a very simple meal that packs some great flavor and is very satisfying. I love the way the squash and the polenta worked together here and it gave the polenta great texture and color. The sausages went really well with the polenta and the whole meal only takes about 30 minutes to cook. If you have polenta left, it sets really nicely when it is chilled and you can cut it into squares and saute it up as a side dish for all kinds of meals if you like. This is a great easy meal for a busy weeknight when you want something quick to put together and I think it would work well with just about any type of fall squash that you might want to use.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Vegetables

 

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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

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