Whether they're passed along from your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins, family recipes are what help keep tradition alive and well. Just a simple smell of a Sunday Gravy or a taste of an antipasto is enough to bring you back to your childhood in an instant. And what better way to help keep these fantastic traditions alive than to share them with our readers! That's why Una Mamma Italiana and myself have agreed to share some of our favorite family recipes in our new feature segment called....drum roll, please.....
We will be featuring this special segment now and again, as we look forward to not only sharing the recipes with you, but also reliving some of our favorite memories as we once again get to enjoy the heavenly tastes of our favorite meals! We hope you enjoy as well!
From The Cucina:
Marie's Chicken Cacciatore
This family recipe has an interesting background, as it was actually first passed up in the family, then back down again. My Aunt Marie (Marie, or Re-Re to those who are her age in the family) was the first person to make it, and she served it once to my grandparents. My Grandmother (also Marie, and Aunt Marie to her nieces and nephews), loved it so much, that she asked to have the recipe, which my Aunt passed up to her. Fast forward a few years to when my Grandmother submitted this recipe to our local newspaper as Recipe of the Week, which was featured as a family favorite dish simply called Marie's Chicken Cacciatore (everyone in our family named Marie gets to share in the glory!). And whether or not you have a Mom or a Grandmom named Marie, an Aunt Marie or a Cousin Re-Re, you will be sure to enjoy this fantastic traditional Italian dish!
Marie's Chicken Cacciatore
4-6 chicken thighs (skin removed)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tspn rosemary
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 green bell pepper, cut into small pieces
1 cup water
2 tblspn vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste
In a large frying pan, brown chicken and garlic in oil until chicken is golden brown. Add vinegar and 1/2 cup water. Simmer until liquid evaporates, then drain excess fat. Add rosemary, tomato sauce, remaining water, sugar, salt and pepper. Add peppers, stir ogether, cover slightly, let cook for 30 minutes.
Serve over a bed of rice or over mini pasta shells.
*Note - you can either serve the chicken thighs whole or shred the meat and discard the bone.
From the Mamma:
Braciole is one of those classic Italian comfort foods. Slow cooked meat in a hearty gravy with a taste that no beef stew, stroganoff, or wellington could even compare with! It's one of those dishes you make in the downstairs kitchen and you nurture for a good few hours until it reaches perfection. The smell alone makes my dad's braciole recipe one of my greatest family memories. My father got his passion for cooking from the big Italian famiglia, and his technique from the Culinary Institute of America. Needless to say, his recipe is top of the line! See for yourself....
2 - 3 lb. cut of top round or flank steak, pounded relatively thin
2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2-4 slices good quality ham or prosciutto cotto
2-4 slices domestic provolone
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 lg onion, minced
12 cloves garlic, minced
2 28 oz. cans San Marzano crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 28 oz can of water
Mix the seasoned bread crumbs with parsley, grated cheese, 3 cloves of minced garlic. Combine with extra virgin olive oil until moistened (like the consistency of wet beach sand).
Lay out the pounded meat and top with bread crumb mixture, sliced provolone, and sliced ham. Roll against the direction of the grain of the meat (so that when you slice the cooked braciole, it is cut against the grain. Roll up the meat. Secure with butcher's twine. Season the outside of the meat with salt and pepper. Sear on each side in a few tbsp of olive oil. Remove from pan, set aside.
Add a few more tbsp of olive oil to the pan. (enough to coat the veggies). Saute the onions for a couple minutes, add the garlic. saute until all are soft and lightly golden. Add in the red wine, deglaze the pan. Cook off the alcohol (about 5 minutes). Add the tomatoes and water. Return the meat to the pan.
Simmer on medium heat for about 2 1/2 hours, depending on the size of your meat. Stir frequently. When cooked, slice the meat and serve the extra sauce over pasta. MANGIA!
*TIP* - whenever you are slow cooking a gravy like this, or even a soup, throw in the rind from the block of cheese you are using. (In this case, parmiggiano) It gives the sauce an incredible flavor. Always save those rinds in the freezer, you never know when you'll need 'em!