Summertime is upon us and we want to keep our food simple, light, flavorful, and tasty. And what could be more tantalizing than serving a couple of refreshing lobster tacos? I highly recommend using fresh cold-water lobster…never frozen.
But to do that, you must use whole live lobsters – and many don’t want to go through the trouble. Even though it is well worth it in my humble opinion because you get to use the meat from the whole lobster. It is easier than you think – just throw a live lobster or two in a pot of boiling water (with a whole lemon and a couple teaspoons of salt) for about 20 minutes – let cool – crack and chop. Lobsters 2 pound or under are typically sweeter to me.
The other acceptable way is to purchase a few high-quality lobster tails from Fresh Market or Publix. Typically, these will have been frozen at some point – but that is ok. Spread with a little butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice: broil, grill, or bake until done. Cool and chop in 1” pieces. You can do this the day before and refrigerate.
High quality flour or corn tacos – I like mine heated about 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave covered with a damp (not wet) paper towel
LOBSTER: This is not the time to skimp on the lobster – load that sucker up with lobster
Fresh roasted corn off the cobb – or you can use frozen seared lightly in a skillet with a bit of olive oil, salt and a touch of sugar – you want a bit of char – do not overcook corn – a couple minutes on high heat will do – cool
Slices of fresh avocado – sprinkled with fresh lime juice
Sauce Vierge is a French sauce meaning Virgin Sauce because it is so light, fresh, and delicate. This sauce also goes nicely with any white flaky fish or scallops or even pan seared chicken. Perfect for a light dinner after a heavy or late lunch. Served with a blood orange and shaved fennel salad drizzled with EVOO and a squeeze of fresh grapefruit juice, a slice of warm herbed focaccia, well…you’ll have a wonderful dinner. And think about it – a Bailey’s dinner with zero butter. Wonders never cease.
Vierge is pronounced: V-edge – let it slide off your tongue.
SEABASS SEASONING INGREDIENTS
2 skinless seabass
2 star anise
½ teaspoon white or blended peppercorns
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon salt
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Combine all dry ingredients in a coffee grinder (one just used for spices not coffee), grind until a powder is formed. Rub both sides of fish with EVOO and sprinkle with spice rub on both sides.
SAUCE VIERGE INGREDIENTS
2 large yellow tomatoes – peeled, seeded, chopped (if you can’t find yellow, use red)
1 teaspoon finely chopped Italian flatleaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
2 cloves finely minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
OPTIONAL: 3 coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons EVOO
Pan-sear seasoned seabass in a pre-heated saute pan on medium high heat with a tablespoon EVOO. Depending on the thickness – around a minute to 2 minutes on each side. Set aside.
Lower heat to medium and add EVOO and lemon juice to the pan and stir with wooden spoon until all brown bits are incorporated. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined and to heat but not break up tomatoes. You are cooking the sauce briefly – just for a minute or so, just bringing it together until it is hot – season with salt and freshly ground peppercorns to taste.
Place braised spinach in center of plate, top with seabass, and ladle sauce over top. Serve with a blood orange and shaved fennel salad – Enjoy!
This may be my favorite way to eat shrimp. The New Orleans style sauce is not like a typical BBQ sauce you will find on ribs – but a buttery, garlicy, sauce with loads of flavor. I developed this recipe and it is always a hit every time it is served. It is good on its own – and especially tasty on top of some creamy grits. My favorite way is to eat it with a hunk of good quality (Pane Rustica) French baguette – oven warmed and crusty.
Once the compound butter is made, this is the fastest recipe in the world to prepare – and even good over your favorite pasta.
STEP ONE – MAKE COMPOUND BUTTER
NOTE: Can be made a month in advanced and stored in air tight container in the refrigerator
1 pound room temperature salted butter
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup chopped garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere’s (or your favorite Cajun spice blend)
1/3 cup chopped scallions
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
½ cup finely chopped bacon (optional – especially good with grits and the shrimp)
Put all ingredients in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Whip at high speed until well combined.
In a skillet on medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon salted butter with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Once the butter is melted and very hot (not brown), toss in one pound of 16/20 peeled and deveined shrimp – tail can be left on or off
Sautee for 30 seconds and turn
Immediately add ¼ cup chardonnay to the pan
Toss in ½ cup soft compound butter – stir until shrimp are cooked (30 seconds to 1 minute)
Put on plate, sprinkle with chopped parsley, serve with crusty warm French baguette slice
I made this cheesesteak last night and it was such a WOW with everyone I just had to pass the recipe on…and quickly. Last time I was in Philadelphia, I ate at both the iconic cheesesteak joints – Pat’s and Geno’s. Pat’s uses Cheez-Wiz, and Geno’s uses provolone cheese. We sat down at Geno’s and compared every savory bite…I declared them both winners!
I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I had to create my own version with shaved ribeye, peppers, onions, garlic, diced jalapeno (all caramelized to a soft melt in your mouth consistency) – and lots of Monterrey Jack cheese mixed in to give it that creamy goodness we all expect in a cheesesteak. Packed it in a buttered grilled hoagie, and believe you me – it was a true WOW.
It was such a hit – I wanted to share the recipe (click here); and share the cheesesteak with you as well. So the first 10 people to email me at RobertKimBailey@hotmail.com will be invited to Bailey’s for lunch in South Tampa, next Thursday, November 8th, at 12 noon. It’s a first come first serve invite so don’t whine if you weren’t fast enough – and we may, just may, throw in some beer battered onion rings – and some of our newly created Apple Pandowdy with homemade Madagascar vanilla ice cream.
BAILEY’S PHILLY CHEESESTEAK
INGREDIENTS – makes 2 sandwiches
• 2 pounds shaved high quality ribeye
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons salted butter – and more for hoagie
• 2 green or red bell peppers (cut in large julienne slices) – optional but I love them
• 2 sweet onions (cut in large half-moon julienne slices)
• 3 cloves garlic (thin shaved)
• 1 whole large (or 2 small) jalapeno pepper (about 1 ½ packed tablespoons full)
• ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
• ½ pound chopped button mushrooms (optional)
• Kosher salt to taste
• 1 pound shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
• 2 hoagie rolls (I like Publix brand from their bakery)
• Soft butter for spreading on hoagie
Melt butter with olive oil in heavy bottom skillet. Add peppers, onion, garlic, jalapenos, red pepper flakes – cook down on medium heat until caramelized extremely soft and broken down. Cover skillet to help break down the onion and pepper mixture. If using mushrooms – cook separately in same skillet adding a little more butter and olive oil. Add to onion pepper mixture. Remove and set aside.
Salt and pepper shaved ribeye. In same skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium high heat. Get the pan hot – but to not burn the butter. Add shaved ribeye immediately – using tongs or a fork – move around until cooked. This process only takes a couple of minutes for you do not want to overcook the beef. Once the beef is cooked, add in pepper and onion mixture – top with cheese, and cover until the cheese is melted all the way through.
Butter and grill the hoagie rolls until beautifully golden and crispy. Top with beef and cheese mixture. Cut in half. Lean forward – butt out – EAT.
NOTE: Shaved ribeye is the way to go. I get Kevin at Publix meat department to shave ribeye from a really cold piece. Or you can slice thin strips from a trimmed ribeye and accomplish the same thing – just a bit different texture.
The hands down number one best seller at Bailey’s Restaurant back in the day was our Mom’s Chicken Salad. It was called Mom’s because my mom would make this for us kids growing up. Spreading generous portions on hearty Monks’ white bread and send me on my way to Most Holy Name in Ybor City.
How many of you remember Monks’ Bread? That’s the only kind mom served in our home. It was hearty and delicious – much like Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread is today.
Mom always sliced my sandwiches in quarters making them perfect size for a grammar school kid. To this day I think my love of tea sandwiches is attributed to the way mom cut my sandwiches.
This chicken salad has so much more flavor than the usual cubed white chicken breast served with big chunks of celery. As you will note – we pack our chicken salad with chicken, not a lot of fillers. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does.
One Sam’s Club Rotisserie chicken (or any other store-bought rotisserie chicken you like). Sam’s has the biggest and best chickens for my taste. It will take one-and-a half grocery store chickens to equal one Sam’s chicken – and they are only $5. You can also cook a fresh made whole chicken (with aromatic root vegetables) with the added benefit of making homemade chicken stock as well. Using a Sam’s chicken cuts a corner without harming taste. Actually, it tastes AWESOME!!!
Remove the skin, bone and gristle from chicken – pull chunks. Place 4 cups loosely chicken (not firmly packed) in food processor and pulse 9 times. Add the remaining 1 cup or so of chicken and pulse 4 to 5 times. This processed chicken should equal approximately 7 cups. If you do not have a food processor, chop small batches with a sharp knife. You do not want cubes or big chunks for this particular salad.
• 7 cups pulsed chicken
• 2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
• ¾ cup finely chopped celery with leaves if you have celery with leaves
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• ¾ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
• 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon celery seed (not celery salt, celery seed – there is a big difference)
• 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons minced onion
• 1 ¼ cups Hellmann’s mayonnaise
#1: Croissant with Bibb lettuce (or sprouts), sliced tomato (season each slice with salt and pepper), sliced avocado
#2: Stuff in an oven roasted acorn squash. Cut acorn squash in half, brush each side with melted butter and olive oil, sprinkle tops with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown
#3: Cut Medjool dates in half and stuff – perfect for a side salad accoutrement
#4: Cut fresh pineapple in half, core center, and stuff with chicken salad
This chicken salad recipe also makes an incredible curry chicken salad just by adding the following 2 ingredients.
• 1 tablespoon good quality yellow curry
• 1 cup halved seedless red grapes
A couple weeks ago we were asked to do an array of Cuban Sandwiches as one of the choices for a luncheon. Ok, you ought to know by now – we can’t leave well enough alone, for we just have to put our own spin on whatever to make it a bit different. But how can one improve on a Cuban sandwich?
My favorites in the Bay area are Wright’s, Columbia, The Floridian on Kennedy, and the West Tampa Sandwich Shop. Now, after what we did to our Cuban – I’ll put ours up against anyone’s.
The three most important elements of creating an incredible dish are: #1: Ingredients, #2: Ingredients, and #3: INGREDIENTS.
So of course, we had to use Le Segunda Cuban bread – which we bought fresh that morning. The smells at Le Segunda make you want to visit daily…and we would if we had the time. Then, we used a quality ham and sliced it thin, same with the hard salami and we used Norwegian Jarlsberg cheese. Jarlsberg is my favorite Swiss-type cheese for this Cuban. We made our own dill pickles and cut them length-wise so you had a bite of pickle in each bite.
NOW – the Piece De Resistance, the Coup De Grace, if you will – was the mojo-sour-orange Pork Tenderloin we made especially for this Cuban. We marinated pork tenderloins for 24 hours in fresh sour orange juice, and homemade mojo with lots of garlic, oregano, herbs and spices. These tenderloins sat covered in this wonderfully flavor-packed marinade (under refrigeration) for what seemed like forever. It was killing me.
Then, we seared each tenderloin in a cast-iron skillet to caramelize each side, and put them in a 450 degree oven for 6 minutes – let them rest and cool, then refrigerated them for a few hours so they could be hand-sliced perfectly thin. OH-MY-GOSH was this meat tender, succulent, juicy, and delicious. It made the Cuban my new favorite in the BAY.
Meatballs and spaghetti are on everyone’s favorite COMFORT food list. When we were kids growing up in old Hyde Park, my mom served spaghetti and meatballs every couple of months or so – and it was always a special treat.
Mom invited my entire Most Holy Name (in Ybor City) 2nd grade class to appear on the popular WFLA Channel 8 “Uncle Bruce” TV show for kids. After the show, she invited the entire class (including the nuns) for spaghetti and meatballs on the patio at our Newport Avenue home. You can be assured I was popular after that day.
During beach week after 10th grade in my Plant High days, she brought us boys a big pot of meatballs and spaghetti about midway through when she knew our food supply would be low…which it was virtually non-existent…you can imagine 10 guys in a three bedroom house on Indian Rocks beach. When we saw her coming down the walkway, the only thing you could hear was “hide the beer.” She knew well enough not to venture inside our immaculately kept beach house. We ate good that night – the only night really that we had much real food.
Everyone has their own meatball recipe…and over the years I’ve made many different meatball recipes as well. Mom just used beef, no pork, and Ritz crackers instead of bread and milk. I’ve added and subtracted to create this one which I like the BEST. Shoot me an email at RobertKimBailey@hotmail.com and let me know what you think.
2 pounds ground beef (80% beef, 20% fat)
1 pound ground pork
3 cups crust-less white sandwich bread soaked in 1 cup whole milk for 1 hour
½ cup sautéed onions – cooked in 2 tablespoons butter until translucent
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if desired)
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
½ cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
Combine all the ingredients and smush (a culinary term) together until all ingredient are well combined. Roll into any size you like and place on a baking sheet brushed with extra virgin olive oil. Brush tops of meatballs with extra virgin olive oil as well.
Please in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until done – approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Once done, place in sauce and let cook in sauce on low heat for an hour or so.
MOM’S SAUCE INGREDIENTS
There are many good brands of canned tomato product on the market – I happen to like Hunts, but of course feel free to substitute for your favorite.
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 quart finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (more depending on your liking)
4 – 28 ounce cans Hunts Crushed Tomatoes
1 – 28 ounce can Hunts Tomato Sauce
1 – 28 ounce can Hunts Tomato Puree
2 – 6 ounce cans Hunts Tomato Paste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your taste)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (more or less depending on your taste)
¼ cup sugar (more or less depending on your taste
1 cup chopped fresh basil
Melt butter and olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot. Add onions and cook on low heat until onions are soft and translucent but not brown – add chopped garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook down for 5 to 10 minutes or so – being careful not to brown or burn the garlic.
Add all the tomato sauces and paste, salt and sugar – stir until completely combined. Simmer on medium low heat for approximately 2 hours stirring occasionally. Add the fresh chopped basil and meatballs, and cook on low heat for another hour or so. Let cool completely before re-heating and eating. It will give the sauce and meatballs to meld together intensifying the overall flavors. Better yet, let cool and refrigerate overnight for it is always better the next day.
Top with fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese – fresh grated – not from a can.
THE MEATBALL HOAGIE YOU’LL CRY OVER
We all love hoagies, but this meatball sub is to die for. I created this compound butter especially for this meatball sub and I bet you will use this over and over again when serving southern Italian dishes – it will be perfect on any bread. It is important to use siracha powder – and not the sauce – it will intensify the flavor and you will love every bite of this toasted parm bread.
Feel free to go over the top and add mozzarella, or jack, or provolone and bake until bubbly hot – you decide.
GARLIC PARMESAN SIRACHA POWDER BUTTER
1 stick salted room temperature
2 teaspoons siracha powder (powder, not the sauce)
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 Publix hoagie rolls
Wisk butter, siracha powder, parmesan cheese, and garlic powder until well combined. Liberally spread on both sides of hoagie rolls and broil until golden brown.
Cut meatballs in half and load up your hoagie and top with lots of sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
As summer’s rain cascades against my kitchen window, tomato soup and garlic parmesan crostini’s are the perfect pick for dinner tonight. My nieces Blaine and Brittany say this is one of their favorite soups we make at Bailey’s. It takes no time to make – and you’ll love the rich flavor.
While my mom (who was from Boston) was an expert chowder maker, I don’t think she ever made us kids homemade tomato soup. Her tomato soup of choice was always a can of Campbell’s made with milk – and it always tasted good to us – especially with a grilled cheese sandwich. But if you want a soup that is so much better – homemade is definitely the way to go.
TOMATO SOUP VARIATIONS
Know too that I make a lot of different kinds of tomato soups and bisques but the recipe below is a really good one that can be made quick. Below are some variations to make my original soup recipe more complex overall – but for you soup lovers, begin with this recipe and play around later with what might tempt your taste buds.
Add one cup each chopped celery (including the leaves) and carrots to the onion and shallot mixture – it gives it an extra dimension that is always good
Start with a couple slices of chopped Applewood smoked bacon to begin the onion (vegetable) saute process is great as well
Instead of using canned tomatoes, toss quartered whole tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a hot 450 oven for about 15 to 20 minutes
TOMATO SOUP RECIPE
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion (Vidalia is perfect – but whatever you have in your pantry)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 stick salted butter
2 large 28 ounce cans crushed Hunts tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Melt butter in heavy bottom pot. Add onions, shallots, and red pepper flakes and sauté on medium low heat until very soft and mushy. Add tomatoes, salt, sugar, and bring to a hot simmer on medium heat and cook down covered for 30 to 45 minutes – stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick on bottom. After soup is cooked put small batches in Cuisinart (food processor), or blender and blend until smooth. An immersion hand-held blender is perfect for blending this soup. Know too, that if you want texture in your soup – no blending is necessary.
Add heavy cream. Ladle hot soup into bowl(s) and top with 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil and parmesan garlic crostini.
GARLIC PARMESAN CROSTINI
You will find these crostini’s a “go-to” for many dishes. In addition to wonderful crostini’s, this mixture makes awesome garlic bread for just about any dish you can think of – especially Italian. Perfect on any type of bread like Cuban – just cut bread baguette in half and liberally spread mixture on top – broil or bake until golden brown.
2 sticks (1/2 pound) room temperature salted butter
1 cup freshly grated fine Parmesan OR Romano cheese
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
A good French baguette (sliced ¼” thick on the bias)
Combine all ingredients (except for the bread) in a mixer and whip until well combined – about a minute or two. Liberally spread on baguette slices. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until golden brown.
Saltiado is an authentic Spanish stew made with tender beef tenderloin, ham, chorizo, mushrooms, and garlic potatoes, all cooked down in a luscious red wine and tomato sauce, perfect any time of year, and especially nice for a family graduation dinner this time of year.
Served with yellow rice, fried plantains, La Segunda Cuban bread, and of course delicious flan for dessert. Add a salad, and there you go – a feast for any graduate…Spaniard or not.
Some will say this dish is “involved” or “complicated” – while it has a few steps, hopefully, I’ve laid out a step-by-step process easy to accomplish a great meal you, your family, and friends will enjoy and talk about for years to come. Perfect for a Sunday Dinner.
MISE EN PLACE
Not only is Mise En Place a great Tampa restaurant, the home of my friend Chef Marty Blitz (who makes the best soups in the world by the way), Mise en Place translates from French to English – “everything in its place,” which is essential for both a restaurant kitchen and the home cook. Prepping and getting all your ingredients ready prior to cooking a single thing will slice your overall prep time in half. I mise en place every single dish I make. It makes cooking and baking so much easier.
3 pounds choice beef filet. Tell your butcher you want a trimmed whole tenderloin
6 chorizo sausage (Publix carries a couple brands)
¾ pound deli ham (sliced ½” thick – at Publix it is #8 – probably about 2 thick slices)
2 pounds (after peeled and cut) Russet potatoes
1 pound sliced button mushrooms
1 pound sliced portabella mushrooms
3 cups finely diced onion
3 cups finely diced green peppers
½ cup EVOO
1 stick soft salted butter
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
5 cloves thinly sliced garlic for frying of potatoes
3 cups red wine (burgundy or Cabernet)
3 cups tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons soft salted butter
STEP ONE – Frying Potatoes in garlic infused extra virgin olive oil
16 ounces extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
5 cloves thinly sliced garlic
2 pounds (after peeled and cut in ½ inch cubes) russet potatoe
Put sliced garlic and EVOO in heavy bottomed pot large enough for frying the potatoes and place on a burner set to medium low. Cook slowly until the garlic has soften, about 30 minutes. Let oil cool. Basically you want lto infuse the olive oil with the garlic – so this can be done days in advance. It is always best to make your own infused oil as opposed to buying one.
Remove garlic and set the heat to medium high – approximately 325 to 350 degrees. In small batches fry potatoes until golden brown, take out of oil and place on flat sheet pan with a rack. Lightly salt each batch immediately after removing for the oil. Set aside in large 6 to 8 quart casserole or large throw-away foil pan.
STEP TWO – Prepping & Searing the Beef
Cut beef into 1” cubes
Mix together with 2 teaspoons Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons salted butter and 2 tablespoons EVOO
In heavy bottom skillet (I prefer cast iron) melt butter with EVOO over medium heat. Sear beef in small batches. If you put too much beef in the pan it will steam and not sear. Sear on both sides and put in dish with potatoes when seared. Continue until all beef is seared.
STEP THREE – Sautee Mushrooms
Add 2 tablespoons salter butter and 2 tablespoons EVOO to skillet on high heat – once melted (be careful not to burn) immediately add mushrooms and 1 teaspoon salt, stir and cook down until most of the liquid is cooked out. Add to beef and potato mixture.
STEP FOUR – Searing Diced Ham & Chorizo
Once the mushrooms are cooked and placed in casserole reduce heat to medium and add diced ham and chorizo, stir and sear until a bit of a crust develops. Add to casserole.
STEP FIVE – Sauce
Add the following to skillet on medium heat:
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons salted butter
3 cups each finely diced onion and green peppers
1 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
Stir and cook down until the peppers and onions are mushy. Add 2 bay leaves, 3 cups red wine (burgundy or Cabernet), 3 cups tomato sauce (I use Hunts), 2 cups beef broth (I uses Swanson’s). Stir immediately to combine and stir every few minutes – cook down for approximately 30 minutes, stir in 2 tablespoons salted butter. Add to casserole, and stir to combine entire mixture.
FINAL STEP – Bake
Cover casserole tightly with parchment paper and aluminum foil. Bake at 250 for 45 minutes. Everything is cooked – you are just melding the ingredients without over-heating.
Yellow rice is a must for this dish. Serve it off to the side (not on top) of Saltiado. If you are serving a large group, you may want to make two packages.
1 Family Pack VIGO Yellow Rice (2 cups rice package)
4 cups chicken stock
¼ cup EVOO
Cook according to package instructions.
I love serving this dish with fried plantains. They are a snap to make. You must select BLACK plantains. Yes, black plantains – you will think they are rotten…they are not…just sweet and tasty. Slice 2” to 4” pieces. Fry at 350 degrees until golden brown.
There are many high quality frozen plantain products. If you are using a frozen product – thaw and lay them out on a sheet pan, toss with vegetable oil, and 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar. Bake at 450 degrees until golden brown – approximately 10 to 15 minutes – watch carefully until to not burn.
I created this incredibly easy dish using fresh pappardelle pasta from the Ravioli Company and handmade Italian sausage from Cacciatore and Sons. We have so many great and wonderful local independent markets in the Bay area – we should really frequent and avail ourselves of the many bountiful fruits they produce.
This dish will take you no more than 30 minutes to prepare. Typically, tomato sauces like marinara take a while to cook down to reach its full flavorful melody. This sauce however, comes together quickly and it is as good the first half hour as it is the next day.
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup chopped fresh basil
2 – 28 ounce cans Hunts Crushed Tomatoes
1 – 6 ounce can Tomato paste
1 pound Italian sausage
½ cup English peas
1 pound pappardelle fresh pasta from the Ravioli Company. Of course you can use dried – but why would you when we have Dwight and Lauren Otis from the Ravioli Company making it for us
Parmesan cheese for grating
Step One – Roasting Sausage
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the Cacciatore and Son’s Italian sausage into 1/2 “ circular rounds, or even 2” to 3” lengths…depending on your preference. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes and bake until brown – about 10 to 20 minutes depending on how large you sliced the sausage. Set aside.
Melt butter with EVOO in heavy bottom pot on medium heat. Add onions and sweat until translucent but not browned. Add garlic, pepper flakes, stir and cook one minute. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar. Stir completely and bring to a quick boil on medium high heat. Add sausage and fresh basil. Stir and cover, and let simmer on low heat until ready to use – at least a half hour.
Add six quarts of water to a large pot and boil on high heat. Add 3 tablespoons kosher salt, stir and add pasta. Since it is fresh, you only need to boil 2 to 3 minutes. If it is dried, follow directions on the package – usually about 10 to 13 minutes. Drain pasta after it is cooked…but never rinse cooked pasta for you want the starch to remain on the pasta so the sauce will adhere to the pasta better. Also, if you are saucing a pasta – don’t finish with oil or butter or your sauce will slide right off the pasta. It is best to sauce the pasta immediately after cooking.
A Note About Salted Pasta Water
The most common mistake people make in cooking pasta is not using enough salt in the water. The water you cook pasta in should taste like the sea…otherwise it will be bland and tasteless. 3 tablespoons to 6 quarts of water is a good measuring gage. I prefer Diamond Crystal Kosher salt for all my cooking.
Toss pasta with sauce and sausage – add English peas. I use frozen Birds Eye – just run them for 30 seconds under warm tap water and they are good to go. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a basil leaf. Serve with a side salad, a piece of garlic toast, and your favorite wine. Enjoy!
Add braised cremini mushroom and/or spinach, or blanch broccoli rabe in boiling water, then pan seared in a hot pan with EVOO, either would go well in this dish.
Stir in a ¼ cup of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon soft butter, and 2 ounces vodka to the sauce right before it’s done for a delicious vodka sauce. Maybe throw in some sliced black olives and top with a dollop of whole milk ricotta cheese. It’s all good.
Remember, a recipe serves as a guide only. Make recipes your own by adding your favorite touches.