Sal Scognamillo's Recipes

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POTATO PIE WITH PROSCIUTTO AND SOPRESSATA
MAKES 8 SERVINGS
“EVERY ITALIAN AMERICAN FAMILY HAS A RECIPE FOR POTATO PIE, DELICIOUSLY SEASONED MASHED POTATOES BAKED AS A SIDE DISH. WE HAVE TWO VERSIONS, WHICH ARE QUITE DIFFERENT. HERE IS MY FAMILY’S VERSION WITH THREE KINDS OF CHEESE, AND MEATY WITH PROSCIUTTO AND SOPRESSATA.”

2 POUNDS RUSSET POTATOES, PEELED AND CUT INTO 1 ½-INCH CHUNKS
6 TABLESPOONS (3/4 STICK) UN-SALTED BUTTER, SOFTENED, PLUS MORE FOR THE PAN
½ CUP PLAIN DRIED BREAD CRUMBS
1 ¼ CUP WHOLE MILK
¾ CUP FINELY CHOPPED FRESH MOZZARELLA CHEESE
¾ CUP FRESHLY GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO
¾ CUP SHREDDED MILD PROVOLONE CHEESE
¼ CUP (1/4-INCH) DICED PROSCIUTTO
¼ CUP PEELED AND (1/4-INCH) DICED SWEET SOPRESSATA
2 TABLESPOONS CHOPPED FRESH FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
2 LARGE EGGS, BEATEN TO BLEND

1. PUT THE POTATOES IN A LARGE SAUCEPAN AND ADD ENOUGH COLD SALTED WATER TO COVER BY 1 INCH. COVER THE SAUCEPAN AND BRING TO A BOIL OVER HIGH HEAT. REDUCE THE HEAT TO MEDIUM-LOW AND SIMMER, COVERED, UNTIL THE POTATOES ARE TENDER, ABOUT 20 MINUTES.
2. MEANWHILE, PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 425⁰F. BUTTER THE INSIDE OF A 9 ½-INCH-DIAMETER SPRINGFORM PAN WITH 3 INCH SIDES. COAT WITH ¼ CUP OF THE BREAD CRUMBS, AND TAP OUT THE EXCESS.
3. DRAIN THE POTATOES WELL AND TRANSFER TO A LARGE BOWL. ADD 2 TABLESPOONS OF THE SOFTENED BUTTER AND THE MILK. MASH WITH A POTATO MASHER OR HANDHELD ELECTRIC MIXER UNTIL ALMOST SMOOTH. FOLD IN THE MOZZARELLA, PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO, AND PROVOLONE CHEESES, AND THE PROSCIUTTO, SOPRESSATA AND PARSLEY. SEASON TO TASTE WITH SALT AND PEPPER. MIX IN THE BEATEN EGGS. SPREAD IN THE PREPARED SPRINGFORM PAN. SIFT THE REMAINING ¼ CUP OF THE BREAD CRUMBS THROUGH A COARSE-MESH WIRE STRAINER OVER THE TOP OF THE POTATO MIXTURE. DOT THE TOP WITH THE REMAINING SOFTENED BUTTER.
4. PUT THE PAN ON A BAKING SHEET. BAKE UNTIL THE PIE IS LIGHTLY BROWNED AND THE MIXTURE LOOKS SET IN THE CENTER WHEN THE PAN IS GENTLY SHAKEN, ABOUT 50 MINUTES. LET STAND AT ROOM TEMPERATURE FOR 20 TO 30 MINUTES TO SETTLE. REMOVE THE SIDES OF THE PAN. TRANSFER TO A SERVING DISH, CUT INTO WEDGES, AND SERVE WARM.

MEATBALL-TINI
MAKES 6 TO 8 APPETIZER SERVINGS
“OUR CUSTOMERS LOVE APPETIZERS ALMOST AS MUCH AS THEY LOVE MARTINIS, SO I COMBINED THE TWO FAVORITES TO CREATE THE MEATBALL-TINI. THESE MINI MEATBALLS (THEY ARE NO BIGGER THAN A THIMBLE) GO DOWN EASY, AND I CAN EAT THEM LIKE CANDY. THEY ARE USED IN BOTH THE NEAPOLITAN MEATBALL AND RICE PICE (PAGE 171) AND MEATBALL LASAGNA (PAGE 175).
¾ CUP FRESH BREAD CRUMBS
½ CUP WHOLE MILK
2 TABLESPOONS EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1 MEDIUM YELLOW ONION, FINELY CHOPPED
6 GARLIC CLOVES, FINELY CHOPPED
3 POUNDS GROUND VEAL
1 ½ CUPS FRESHLY GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO CHEESE (ABOUT 6 OUNCES)
3 LARGE EGGS
3 LARGE EGG YOLKS, BEATEN
3 TABLESPOONS FINELY CHOPPED FRESH FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY, PLUS MORE FOR GARNISH
1 TABLESPOON FINELY CHOPPED FRESH OREGANO, OR 1 TEASPOON DRIED
2 ½ TEASPOONS SALT
1 TEASPOON FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
2 CUPS SEASONED BREAD CRUMBS OR ITALIAN-FLAVORED STORE-BOUGHT DRIED BREAD CRUMBS, FOR DUSTING
OLIVE OIL, FOR DEEP FRYING
3 CUPS VODKA SAUCE,HEATED
PIMIENTO-STUFFED GREEN OLIVES, SPEARED ONTO TOOTHPICKS, FOR GARNISH

1. TO MAKE THE MINI MEATBALLS: PUT THE BREAD CRUMBS IN A SMALL BOWL, DRIZZLE WITH THE MILK, AND LET SOAK AND SOFTEN FOR A FEW MINUTES.
2. HEAT THE OIL IN A LARGE DEEP SKILLET OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT. ADD THE ONION AND GARLIC AND COOK UNTIL THEY ARE LIGHTLY BROWNED, 3 TO 4 MINUTES. TRANSFER TO A PLATE AND LET COOL.
3. USING YOUR HANDS, MIX THE VEAL, SOAKED BREAD CRUMBS, AND THE ONION MIXTURE IN A LARGE BOWL. ADD THE GRATED CHEESE, WHOLE EGGS, EGG YOLKS, PARSLEY, OREGANO, SALT, AND PEPPER AND MIX AGAIN UNTIL COMBINED.
4. DUST THE WORK SURFACE WITH ABOUT ½ CUP OF THE SEASONED BREAD CRUMBS. ON THE BREAD CRUMBS, SHAPE ABOUT ¾ CUP OF THE MEATBALL MIXTURE INTO A 1-INCH-WIDE STRIP. SPRINKLE THE TOP OF THE STRIP WITH MORE SEASONED BREAD CRUMBS. CUT THE STRIP INTO ½-TO ¾ INCH LENGTHS. TRANSFER THE PIECES TO A LARGE SIEVE OR STRAINER AND SPRINKLE LIGHTLY WITH BREAD CRUMBS TO PREVENT STICKING. ROTATE THE SIEVE IN A CIRCULATION MOTION TO TOSS THE STRIPS OF MEAT AND FORM MARBLE-SIZE MEATBALLS. TRANSFER THE MEATBALLS TO A BAKING SHEET. REPEAT WITH THE REMAINING MEAT MIXTURE AND BREAD CRUMBS.
5. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 200⁰F. LINE A BAKING SHEET WITH PAPER TOWELS AND PLACE NEAR THE STOVE.
6. POUR ENOUGH OIL INTO A LARGE SKILLET TO COME 1 INCH UP THE SIDES. HEAT THE OIL OVER HIGH HEAT TO 360⁰F. WORKING IN BATCHES WITHOUT CROWDING, AND ADDING MORE OIL AS NEEDED, DEEP-FRY THE MEATBALLS UNTIL BROWNED AND COOKED THROUGH, ABOUT 1 ½ MINUTES. USING A SLOTTED SPOON, TRANSFER TO THE PAPER TOWEL-LINED BAKING SHEET. KEEP THE COOKED MEATBALLS WARM IN THE OVEN WHILE FRYING THE REST. (THE MEATBALLS CAN BE COOLED, PACKED INTO 1-GALLON PLASTIC STORAGE BAGS, AND REFRIGERATED FOR UP TO 2 DAYS OR FROZEN FOR UP TO 2 MONTHS. REHEAT IN A 350⁰F OVEN FOR ABOUT 10 MINUTES BEFORE USING.)
7. FOR EACH SERVING, PLACE A PORTION OF THE MEATBALLS IN A MARTINI GLASS. GARNISH WITH PARSLEY AND GREEN OLIVES ON SPEARS. SERVE RAMEKINS OF THE VODKA SAUCE ON THE SIDE FOR DIPPING THE MEATBALLS.

SPAGHETTI AND VEAL MEATBALLS
MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS
WITH NO FALSE MODESTY, I HAVE OFTEN HEARD THAT PATSY’S HAS THE MEATBALLS IN NEW YORK. THESE TASTY ICONS OF ITALIAN-AMERICAN CUISINE DO HAVE A SECRET INGREDIENT: GROUND VEAL, WHICH HAS MORE NATURAL GELATIN THAN GROUND BEEF OR PORK, AND PROVIDES EXTRA MOISTURE. FOR A LITTLE WHILE, MY DAD JOE TOOL THEM OFF THE MENU, BELIEVING THAT THEY WERE OLD HAT. I ARGUED THAT THE CUSTOMERS DEMANDED THEM. AS AN EXPERIMENT, WE PUT THEM BACK ON THE MENU FOR TWO DAYS TO SEE HOW MANY ORDERS WE SOLD. OUR MEATBALLS WILL NEVER LEAVE THE MENU AGAIN.
VEAL MEATBALLS
1 ½ POUNDS GROUND VEAL
⅓ CUP PLAIN DRIED BREAD CRUMBS
2 LARGE EGGS, BEATEN
2 TABLESPOONS FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO ROMANO CHEESE
1 TEASPOON CHOPPED FRESH FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY
1 GARLIC CLOVE, MINCED
1 TEASPOON SALT
½ TEASPOON FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
PINCH OF DRIED OREGANO
2 CUPS OLIVE OIL, FOR FRYING
1 POUND SPAGHETTI
4 CUPS TOMATO SAUCE (PAGE 100)
FRESHLY GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO CHEESE, FOR SERVING

1. TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS: COMBINE THE VEAL, BREAD CRUMBS, EGGS, PECORINO ROMANI, PARSLEY, GARLIC, SALT, PEPPER, AND OREGANO IN A LARGE BOWL. USING YOUR HANDS, MIX THEM TOGETHER THOROUGHLY. ROLL INTO 12 MEATBALLS AND TRANSFER TO A PLATE.
2. LINE A PLATTER OR BAKING SHEET WITH PAPER TOWELS AND PLACE NEAR THE STOVE. HEAT THE OIL IN A LARGE DEEP SKILLET AND HEAT OVER HIGH HEAT UNTIL THE OIL IS SHIMMERING (350° F ON A DEEP-FRYING THERMOMETER). WORKING IN BATCHES, WITHOUT CROWDING, CAREFULLY ADD THE MEATBALLS AND FRY, TURNING OCCASIONALLY, UNTIL THEY ARE NICELY BROWNED, 4-5 MINUTES. USING A SLOTTED SPOON, TRANSFER TO THE PAPER TOWELS. REHEAT THE OIL TO SHIMMERING BEFORE ADDING EACH BATCH.
3. MEANWHILE BRING A LARGE POT OF SALTED WATER TO A BOIL OVER HIGH HEAT.

4. BRING THE TOMATO SAUCE TO SIMMER IN A LARGE SAUCEPAN OVER MEDIUM HEAT. ADD THE MEATBALLS AND REDUCED THE HEAT TO MEDIUM-LOW. COVER THE SAUCEPAN AND SIMMER UNTIL THE MEATBALLS ARE COOKED THROUGH, 8 TO 10 MINUTES. 
5. WHEN THE MEATBALLS ARE ADDED TO THE SAUCE, ADD THE PASTA TO THE BOILING WATER AND COOK ACCORDING TO THE PACKAGE DIRECTIONS UNTIL AL DENTE. DRAIN THE SPAGHETTI AND RETURN IT TO ITS COOKING POT. ADD ABOUT HALF OF THE TOMATO SAUCE AND MIX WELL. DIVIDE THE PASTA AND MEATBALLS AMONG PASTA BOWLS AND TOP WITH THE REMAINING SAUCE. SERVE HOT WITH THE PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO PASSED ON THE SIDE.