Sunday, December 6, 2009
Meatball Sub with Homemade Sicilian Sausage
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We raised our children in a community that had a small Italian conclave. We lived in the area for several years before I even knew it was there. I happened on it following an article I'd read about a procession being held by the congregation of the church which was the cornerstone of this community. I've always been fascinated by the process that leads to the assimilation of immigrant populations and was intrigued that a group of people in a community so urbane and close to New York City still held to the old ways. I attended the procession and watched a group of mostly elderly people march, barefoot, in a procession on a very hot day to honor the patron saint of their church. It's hard not to be touched by this kind of devotion. I decided to walk through the area to better acquaint myself with the community and the folks who lived here. I turned off the artery on which the church was located to find myself on what should have been a small quiet street. It was neither. It was a lined on both sides by small family businesses that appeared to be thriving. There were several delis, a pork store, some restaurants and a large bakery. You knew immediately that you were in a miniature version of Little Italy. Similar Jewish communities are marked by the aroma of pastrami and dill. Here the air was redolent with cheese and salami and the mind numbing fragrance of bread baking in basement ovens. I fell in love immediately and it was here that I eventually learned about the regional sausages of Italy. Many years before this, I had tasted fresh sausage made in the kitchen of Mama S. Her sausage was wonderful but what I sampled here had gorgeous flecked color and a taste of fennel and cheese that, once tasted, would never be forgotten. It was here that I learned how to make Sicilian sausage. It's very easy to do if you're willing to forego casings. I forgo casings. I usually keep a supply of Sicilian sausage in my freezer. We use it for subs, pasta and pizza. Today's recipe is really for sausage, but before I get into that, I want to tell you about the sub sandwich in the picture. It starts with a wonderful, lightly toasted roll that has been hollowed out to hold the meatballs. The meatballs are covered with a spicy marinara or puttanesca sauce and then topped with grated provolone before being given a quick turn under the broiler to melt the cheese. One bite of this sub will take you to Mount Etna. The secret is the meatballs. The secret to the meatballs is fennel. Here's the recipe.
Sicilian Sausage ...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
2-1/2 pounds coarsely ground pork butt
1 cup Romano cheese
1/2 cup red wine
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fennel seed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped yellow pepper
1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Form into meatballs using a tablespoon or scoop. Sausage may also be formed into patties. Yield: 36 meatballs.