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Aug 31, 2012 11:50 PM

September 2012 COTM My Calabria: Bread, Cheese, Eggs, Seafood, Meat

Please post here for these dishes:

Bread, Cheese, Eggs…..113 - 156

Seafood…..157 - 190

Meat…..191 - 232

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  1. Polpette alla Verbicarese - My Mother's Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce - p. 209

    I actually made this dish in April of 2011. It was my first use of this recipe and book and results were terrific. An unusual "all pork" meatball mixed w fairly standard ingredients however the breadcrumbs are dry vs fresh soaked in milk. I cooked mine in the oven vs in oil on the stove. 25 mins at 375 did the trick. We liked these... not as much as our usual mb's but they were very good and I would make them again for a change. I had some of my own marinara in the freezer so I didn't make the Quick Tomato Sauce in this book but intend to do so during the COTM. Love that this book has wine suggestions w each recipe as well.

    Forgot to photograph the cooked mb's!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Breadcrumbs

      Polpette alla Verbicarese - My Mother's Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce - p. 209

      I also made this some time ago - don't remember exactly when. I love these meatballs. I used homemade breadcrumbs that were probably not as fine or dry as what was called for. The meatballs had a great delicate texture. I think what I really loved about them was the addtition of pecorino cheese. I did use the quick tomato sauce from the book, and it was wonderful. I am a big fan of very simple tomato sauces, and that is exactly what this was.

      1. re: MelMM

        Mel I totally agree w you about the pecorino, in fact I purchased some especially for this recipe and we've been using it as frequently as our previous go-to Parmesan ever since. Also good to hear your thoughts on that sauce. Time permitting, I hope to make some this weekend.

      2. re: Breadcrumbs

        Polpette alla Verbicarese (My Mother's Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce), page 209.

        Since a couple people have reviewed it on this thread, I reported on this dish in the meatball thread here:

        Hats off to Breadcrumbs for teaching me the oven method of cooking meatballs. I really dislike frying. It worked great, and I'm never going back!

        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          Polpette alla Verbicarese (My Mother's Meatballs in Tomato Sauce) p.209

          There are full reports from others above so I'll just add that I liked these - they are quick and easy to make. I liked the all-pork meat for a change - the mixture was like a pork sausage, which is not a drawback for me. Like Breadcrumbs I baked them rather than frying them. I served them with the Quick tomato sauce over pasta.

          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            Polpette alla Verbicarese, p. 209

            Very good, a nice change from beef meatballs. I didn't have enough tomatoes to make a double recipe of the Sugo di Pomodoro (7 cups of sauce), so I only made a single recipe. I served the meatballs with penne rigate pasta. I used the sauce for the pasta, and had a little extra for the meatballs. I fried the meatballs, since I wanted to follow the recipe to the letter the first time around, but I'll be putting them in the oven the next time. Thanks for suggesting baking them.

            1. re: cheesemaestro

              Looking forward to hearing how you liked the baked version cheesemaestro. I've never looked back!!

          2. Breadcrumbs – p. 127

            So I totally recognize we don’t need a recipe for these but for the benefit of those who many not yet have had the opportunity to take a good look through this book, the author does call for the use of fresh breadcrumbs in a number of recipes so I thought I'd post this as a reminder.

            Having seen that, I decided to whip up a batch and freeze them so I have them on hand for the month ahead. I picked up a day-old loaf of Italian country-style bread at a local bakery and, as the author suggests, cut it into 1 inch cubes without removing the crusts (oh joy!!). Bread is pulsed until crumbs are fine and tada…you’re done.

            On p. 59 the author also provides a recipe for toasted breadcrumbs and of course, you can use these to make that recipe. I expect I’ll be happy to have these on hand throughout the month and, especially on a weeknight where an extra step can make or break my decision to prepare a dish!!

            9 Replies
            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              I too often keep a jar of 'fresh' breadcrumbs in the freezer, and I also leave the crusts on. Seems so wasteful to cut off that tasty bit. A worthy 'recipe' to have reviewed (especially since it's your namesake!).

              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                Hardest thing for me to keep a supply of: breadcrumbs! Fresh, toasted, seasoned, plain, or otherwise, I always promise myself I'll "make" a new batch for the freezer but haha...

                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                  Breadcrumbs, page 127

                  I made 2lbs of her everyday bread specifically so that I could make breadcrumbs. The bread was so delicious, that only 1 1/2 lbs of the bread was left for this task. To amuse myself, I started with a grater, sawing the bread back and forth. My arm was tired before I had even 1/4 cup of the crumbs, so I moved onto 20th century technology.

                  In small batches, I added the cubed bread to the blender. I tossed the crumbled bread in a very fine sieve, and then a bigger sieve over a second bowl. It is astonishing how few breadcrumbs I have! My final results were about 2 cups of the extremely fine crumbs and 4 cups of the larger.

                  Finally ready to try some of the recipes that I have marked.

                  1. re: smtucker

                    <<"To amuse myself, I started with a grater...">>

                    smtucker you almost made me cough up my wine!! You made your own bread just for the crumbs. I could barely drag my tired butt down to the freezer this morning to dig out some English muffins so we had some form of bread at breakfast.

                    Step aside Martha, there's a new kid in town!!!

                    Loved this post smtucker, you "are" a Chowhound!!!

                  2. re: Breadcrumbs

                    I have started a new starter for this bread. [Long story but the last starter isn't useable.] I have decided that this is the perfect bread for my Thanksgiving stuffing. It is tasty fresh, and gets stale nicely. This time I will do a better job of keeping my starter healthy. Three days is a lot of days to wait for bread.

                    I am thinking of adding some fresh and dried sage. I think that will work. Anyone think this will be a disaster?

                    1. re: smtucker

                      smtucker, you're putting fresh and dried sage into the starter -- or the breadcrumbs -- or the bread?
                      Also, what do you mean it "gets stale nicely"?

                      1. re: blue room

                        I am planning to put sage in the final bread dough, not the starter. Some breads don't get stale well. They mold, or become chalky. This bread doesn't collapse or have an off taste as it dries.

                        Last year I made a bread that had some milk and butter and it just didn't age gracefully and it was too rich or dense. I don't want to make this mistake again.

                        1. re: smtucker

                          I realize now I asked a dumb question, smtucker. Of course you're not adding sage leaves to the starter!
                          If you'll ever answer another of my questions -- have you made the famous "no knead" Lahey bread? And would this from "My Calabria" be better for taste and drying-for-stuffing, in your opinion?

                          1. re: blue room

                            I actually think that the no-knead bread is excellent for this purpose. I did that one year and it was very successful.

                  3. Pollo alla Calabrese (Baked chicken with potatoes, tomatoes and hot peppers) – half recipe p. 218


                    This couldn’t be easier. One dish. Pantry staples. Toss in the oven. After a long work day, the Mr. and I split-up the kitchen prep and put chopped tomatoes, Yukon gold potatoes , garlic and sliced onions that were seasoned with salt in a pan (we used a lasagna pan). Chicken (we used bone-in skin on chicken thighs) is seasoned with salt and pepper and placed on the vegetables. Season everything with oregano (we used wild, dried oregano). Drizzle with olive oil, mix and then place the bed of vegetables and add the chicken (skin-side up), add ground hot red pepper.

                    Cook until the skin is crisp and golden then turn the chicken and bake until the chicken is cooked through. Because we used too big of a pan and only made half a recipe, by the time the skin was golden – the chicken and potatoes were cooked through and the tomatoes had disintegrated and gotten a little charred without even a hint of pan juice. Even so, it was a nice after work meal. It wasn’t a knock your socks off dish, but homey and hearty.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: BigSal

                      That's exactly how I remember feeling about the dish when I first made it last year. It's on the agenda for tonight's dinner because I couldn't trust my memory for the reporting details. Everything is at the ready... I'm using chicken quarters jointed into thighs and drums. I can't decide what to serve as a contorno though. Perhaps just a salad.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Chicken quarters sound great. I may try using those next. I think a salad sounds perfect with this.

                      2. re: BigSal

                        I also chose this recipe - my first attempt from the book, which I got from the library after finding this forum. Overall, we enjoyed it. I thought I was following the instructions pretty well, but my potatoes still were not done after the chicken was, so next time I will cut them smaller. I may also add a little more tomato and garlic, because they tasted so wonderful combined with everything else.

                        The best part was the skin on the chicken - it was crispy and delicious. We cut up a whole chicken and just removed the breasts a little before the rest. The recipe is deceptively simple and, like BigSal said, it couldn't be easier. We will certainly make this again. We also browsed the other recipes while we ate, so I am fairly certain this book will become part of our permanent collection.

                        1. re: BigSal

                          I made this for dinner tonight as well. I made the full recipe as written except I left out the hot red pepper for two reasons. 1. Wasn't sure what type of hot pepper to use, and 2. My husband isn't a huge fan of heat, so thought it would be better to leave it out. I thought the flavors were good, but not all my potatoes were fully cooked. The potatoes under the chicken were good, but those on top seemed a bit crunchy. On the side I served a fig and goat cheese salad as I found figs at the store and some crusy Italian bread. Would definetly make again as it was simple and tasty.


                            1. re: JulesLP

                              Jules, we used ground cayenne pepper - just sprinkled it on. It did add some spice to the skin, but not to the rest of the chicken.

                            2. re: BigSal

                              Pollo alla Calabrese, Pg. 218
                              Baked Chicken with Potatoes, Tomatoes and Hot Peppers

                              The last time I made this recipe was 1.9.11 and for us it was like Italian comfort food: all the ingredients we like, plus easy to make, easy to eat, nutritious and nostalgic. Last night we made it for dinner and, after seasoning everything more aggressively, we decided that we have to keep this in rotation through the winter.

                              I used chicken leg quarters dis-jointed, 2 hot Serrano chilies chopped keeping the seeds and ribs, after sprinkling the S & P plus cayenne pepper and lots of dried Greek oregano over both the chicken pieces and vegetables and mixing all together I also sprinkled hot sweet paprika (Pimenton de La Vera picante) over all. Baked the first time for 25 minutes @ 450F skin side up, turned the chicken skin side down and baked for the additional 20 minutes.

                              Chicken skin was crisp and golden, potatoes (YGs) were cooked through and mashed easily into the pan sauce, tomato chunks had collapsed creating a lovely unctuous sauce with the onion slices, G pan-grilled slices of a large crusty Italian loaf and these were used to mop up the plentiful juices. This well seasoned and delectable meal was transformed into satisfying comfort food of a higher order.

                            3. Friselle (Calabrian Rusks) p. 128

                              I had never had friselle before and was curious to try this twice-cooked bread that looks like a bagel on steroids that is reconstituted in water and eaten as a snack with some type of topping.
                              This is definitely a weekend project (assuming that you already have made your bread starter which takes 3 days and the bread sponge that needs to sit overnight).

                              One starts by making My Family’s Everyday Bread up to the first rise and then separates the dough into 6 pieces which are formed into 8” rounds with a 2” hole in the center (like a very large bagel). Cover the rings with a kitchen towel and a blanket (you are aiming to keep them at a 80F temperature) for 2 hours. Bake at 475F for 15 minutes in the bottom rack of the oven and then bake at 400F and bake 15 minutes and cool completely on a rack.

                              Slice each one in half horizontally and bake at 300F for 1-1.5 hours. Lastly, bake at 175F for 2 more hours. The bread is completely dry to the touch and crisp and brittle. Whew! This took quite a while to do, but it does make a lot of friselle which will last a long time.

                              Because it is so laborious to make, it is not something I would make regularly, but glad to have had the experience and very pleased with the results.

                              Friselle con Pomodoro Crudo (Calabrian Rusks with Fresh Tomato and Garlic Topping) p. 35

                              Once you have the friselle made this a breeze. You make a topping of cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, fresh hot red pepper, salt and olive oil. This topping is placed on a moistened frisella. Similar to bruschetta, but the texture of the bread is different.

                              It took me a couple tries to get the friselle the right texture. Soak too long and it falls apart. Not enough water and it’s too crunchy.

                              Calabrian Rusks with Olive Oil, Oregano and Garlic Variation p. 36

                              Rub the moistened frisella with garlic, then drizzle with olive oil, salt and dried, crumbled oregano (we used wild oregano). This was our preferred way to enjoy friselle. Simple and delicious.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: BigSal

                                Big Sal I'm so impressed, this was quite an undertaking and it sounds like it produces terrific results. You said that the dough produces a lot of friselle. Are you freezing some of the dough or did you bake all of it? The Italian Bakery here sells the split loaves sealed in plastic and it does seem that they keep in that state for some time.

                                There's an Italian restaurant in Chicago that serves this as part of their antipasti menu and that's where we tried it for the first time. Interestingly they don't soak their bread and instead they let the juices of the tomato, onion, evoo mixture moisten the bread (to the point that it becomes too soggy for our tastes after a little time on the table). The notion of soaking the bread first is very interesting. Though I'm not as brave or ambitious as you in baking my own, I think I'll pick up one from the bakery and give that technique a try. Thanks so much for posting.

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  The whole recipe makes 12 friselle. I baked them all at once which I am glad that I did now that it is done, but I was baking into the wee hours of the night to finish the batch. The baked friselle are said to keep for months, but I don't see them lasting that long the way we have been snacking on them.

                                  Reconstituting them in tomato juice and olive oil sounds delicious too. I can relate to the friselle becoming too soggy for your tastes after a little time on the table. There's a narrow window between good texture and soggy mess. After a couple trials, I prefer to quickly moisten the friselle under running water rather than soak.

                                2. re: BigSal

                                  Wow, you are energetic and dedicated. I think I could make the complimentary recipe suggestions, but I can but great friselle.

                                  1. re: BigSal

                                    Wow! That is real project management. So glad you liked the results. Just reading your posts on the bread & rusks left me both tired & hungry.

                                    1. re: BigSal

                                      I echo the others - I'm incredibly impressed.

                                    2. Pane Calabrese (My Family’s Every Day Bread) p. 119

                                      This bread takes some time to make. One starts by making the bread starter, a 3 day process. Mix flour, yeast and water and cover in a warm spot for 24 hours. Divide the dough in half (discarding half) and add flour and water and rest 24 hours. Divide dough in half again (discarding the half) and add flour and water and rest 24 hours.

                                      Add flour and water to the starter, cover and rest overnight to make the sponge. The sponge is put into 3 lbs of flour (formed into a well with the sponge in the middle). Warm salted water is gradually added to the sponge until blended and then mix in the flour until the sides of the bowl are clean. Knead until the dough is firm and smooth. This is a moist dough and Rosetta recommends kneading the dough in the bowl, but I was not used to kneading so much dough at once, I found it easier to knead it on my countertop. This was quite a workout .
                                      The dough is covered with a kitchen towel and blanket to keep the temperature around 80F and leave to rise 2.5-3 hours. Shape the loaves into your shape of choice (makes 3 loaves). Cover and rise 2 hours then bake.

                                      The result is a hearty, dense loaf. I don’t make a lot of bread, but each time I do, I find it so rewarding.

                                      18 Replies
                                      1. re: BigSal

                                        That sounds so great. I've always wanted to try making bread with a starter but never get around to it. Would you say that the outcome is worth the effort/time?

                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                          Yes, for me it was, although I do not mind working on extended projects. This was also my first time making bread with a starter too. The nice thing about the starter is that you can make it in advance and put it in the fridge for up to three weeks.

                                        2. re: BigSal

                                          Thank you BigSal, I enjoyed both posts! You've earned your daily bread, that's for sure.
                                          (The background in the book about bread paints a picture, doesn't it? Hardscrabble, but healthy I suppose.)

                                          1. re: blue room

                                            Hardscrabble indeed. It makes us appreciate the food we have and the ease and afforability of it. Making this bread was a fun project, but I can't imagine having to make it weekly for sustenance.

                                          2. re: BigSal

                                            Thank you so much for reporting. I have just marked this recipe and plan to start the starter tonight. I love when I make our own bread, and as the temperature drops, I am willing to turn the oven back on. Not sure that my stand mixer can handle 3 lbs of flour, but I want to make a full recipe so we will have lots of breadcrumbs for so many of the other recipes I want to try.

                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              If you make this recipe, you will have LOTS of breadcrumbs! It makes three large loaves of bread. The kneading was the toughest part, since it makes such a large amount of dough.

                                              1. re: BigSal

                                                Did you make a partial recipe? Freeze some of the dough? Or just go for it?

                                            2. re: BigSal

                                              Pane Calabrese (My Family’s Every Day Bread) p. 119

                                              Let me start by stating that I am impatiently waiting for this bread to cool off enough to eat. The house smells wonderful!

                                              BigSal has already outlined the big picture so I will restrain my comments to the changes that I made. Though I made the full amount of the starter and the sponge, I only made 2/3 of the recipe adjusting the amount of sponge accordingly. I wasn't sure that my 600 series stand mixer was up to 3 lbs [in the future, I now know that it could.] I chose to make the loaves in the batard shape.

                                              So I blindly followed her instructions to complete the second rise on towels. Getting the dough onto the peel was more difficult that I would have liked, but I managed it. She doesn't suggest slashing the dough before placing it in the oven. As you can see, one of my loaves split and the other just puffed up like a blowfish. In the future, I think I will do two things differently- slash the dough and create a steam oven a la Reinhardt just to get a more even puff.

                                              Will have to report back on the flavor. If it is half as good as the smell, we will enjoy this for MANY days to come.

                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                The bread looks wonderful, SMT. Couldn't help noticing your knife storage in the background, though. Now I have serious knife storage envy...

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  Isn't that work surface wonderful? That piece was a wedding gift to us 30 years ago! It has been a kitchen tool, been used as a violin repair bench, to store wine. It is perhaps one of the most versatile wedding gifts that we received.

                                                  My greatest fear, as a violinist, is to cut my hands reaching for a knife, so I always make sure that the knives are tucked away and accessible.

                                                  The bread was delicious. The crumb was dense with large open holes. We found it more chewy than a standard French loaf. I had forgotten to mention that I did a slow refrigerator rise to encourage as much flavor as possible. We liked this bread in part because it isn't really sour, just flavorful.

                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                    Beautiful bread (and kitchen furniture!) I'd like to someday have a truly "everyday" bread-- that I can make without thinking and have it come out the same every time.
                                                    About how long did it rise in the fridge?

                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                      I put the dough in the fridge at about 3pm and then pulled it out the next day at 9am.

                                                    2. re: smtucker

                                                      In another life, when I was working my way through my Earth Mother phase during the '60s & '70s, every week I made our daily bread, butter, and yogurt so I can just imagine the aroma of freshly made bread in your kitchen. Ah, those were the dayz. Peace, love and happiness,. man. (Classical piano and an F-Alto baroque recorder were my instruments of choice then.)

                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                        "Puffed up like a blowfish" is a perfect description. I'm glad you liked the bread. How long did you knead it in the mixer? I may try the slow refrigerator rise too.

                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                          Beautiful bread; beautiful work surface.

                                                          I'm just reading this--so impressed with all these bread-making efforts.

                                                      2. re: smtucker

                                                        I'm so impressed with your bread-making skills smt....picture perfect! Also love your wedding Gio said, the knife storage is enviable. What a great idea and a treasured gift.