Friday, June 7, 2019

Four Ingredients

Here's another sauce that you could make even if you were in a coma.  Or if you had a bambino on your hip, one holding on to your leg, and your father-in-law sitting at the kitchen table in his boxer shorts telling you what you were doing wrong.  (Obviously, I'm acquainted with this situation, as are most Italian women.  I don't think there's any kind of government legislation that could be proposed to change it.)

This sauce is rich, spicy, and visually dazzling.  And it has four ingredients.  Count 'em: four.  It's supposed to be served over polenta, but Sicilians don't eat polenta so I serve it over penne.  You can serve it over anything you want.  My alien husband Anthony puts it over yogurt and eats it for breakfast, which is even more proof of his extraterrestrial origins.

Sausage and Mushroom Sauce
Put two large cans of peeled Italian tomatoes into a big pot and bring to a simmer.  Cut up 2 lbs. of hot Italian sausage into little pieces and fry them in some olive oil in a big cast iron pan.  DO NOT DRAIN.  Add the fried sausage to the pot of tomatoes.  NOW - and this is magic! - fry a big bunch of sliced mushrooms in the sausage drippings.  Not only will the sausage dripping make your mushrooms taste like heaven, but the mushrooms will clean the sausage stuff off the pan.  No kidding.  It's why I like to make this sauce.  Add the mushrooms to the tomatoes and sausage, and simmer until the tomatoes get super soft and you can break them up with your wooden spoon.

Taste the sauce.  If it needs salt, add salt.

Then you'll have five ingredients.  Oh, well.




Italians: Endgame

What do you do after you eat copious amounts of amazing Italian food?  You have dessert, obviously.  Just a little something sweet to go with your coffee.  Not too much, or you'll end up exploding like that guy in the Monty Python movie, which would not be a good thing, especially if you're on a date.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about desserts.  My general feeling on the subject is this is why God gave us spumoni.  Maybe a cookie to go with.  Cannoli, if it's your birthday; cannoli cake if it's your wedding.

The cannoli comes from the bakery.  The spumoni from the freezer.  Tutto finito.

That being said, my husband's Aunt Geraldine used to make spectacular homemade cannoli for Christmas, substituting chocolate and vanilla pudding for the ricotta filling.  For the record, the traditional way to make a cannoli shell is to wrap the dough around a piece of wooden broom handle and fry it until it's crispy.  I'm sure you did not know this.  It's a great way to recycle a broom.  Wash it first, please.

However, if you're adventurous or bored, you can always make a dessert.  The most spectacular dessert I know of is my pecan pie, and I've already given you that recipe.  I know it's spectacular because I just got back from my son Nino's graduation, where several people from several different nations told me so.  And these people are not stupid, because Nino graduated with a master's degree from Harvard, so all of his friends are smart.  And he apparently spent a certain amount of time baking pecan pies with the aim of bribing people to be his friends.

 Successfully.

That's Harvard, mind you.  And my daughter Nikki studies at the University of Chicago.  So there's no shortage of brains in the Staccato family, unless you take into account our oldest cat Moof, who's the dumbest ball of fur who ever hacked up a hairball.  But she's fluffy.  And she purrs a lot.  Which is her way of bribing people to be her friends, since - lacking intelligence and opposable thumbs - she can't bake a pecan pie.

But even she could probably figure out how to get the spumoni out of the freezer.