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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Meat & Poultry

GIFT: Meat Of The Month Club

capicola-230

Top-quality cooked and cured meats monthly. Capicola from DeLallo.com.

 

Need a special gift for your favorite carnivore? Murray’s Meat of the Month Club will send a monthly treat of the finest cooked or cured artisan meats.

Each month you or your giftee will receive Murray’s choicest selections: cooked and cured meats, whole and encased meats, salami, pâtés. Two delicious selections will arrive on the third Thursday of the month.

If you’re giving a club membership as a gift, Murray’s will email you a welcome letter that you can tuck in a card.

The Meat of the Month Club is priced beginning at $225.00 for four months of deliveries. Other options include six months ($325) and twelve months ($625). All prices finclude shipping.

Order at MurraysCheese.com.

 

 
  

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FOOD FUN: Bacon Rose Bouquet Recipe

Mom gets flowers for Mother’s Day; perhaps Dad would prefer a bacon bouquet. It’s easy to make 12 long-stemmed bacon roses.

Here’s a video from the National Pork Board that shows how to make bacon roses.
 
RECIPE: BACON ROSES

Ingredients For 12 Bacon Roses

  • 12 strips of bacon
  • 24 toothpicks
  • 12 stems from plastic roses*
  • Glass vase (or pitcher)
  • Optional: red ribbon
  •  
    *Get 12 fabric or plastic roses on plastic stems from the craft store. You have to remove the flowers, but typically, they snap off so you can wash the stems and use them again. After you remove the flower, wash the top of the stem before adding the bacon roses.

     

    bacon-bouquet-porkbeinspired-230

    It’s easy to make this tasty bacon rose bouquet. Find more recipes at PorkBeInspired.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. UNWRAP the bacon and gently separate the slices. Roll each into a bacon rosebud.

    2. INSERT two toothpicks to hold each bud in place. Place the buds on a wire rack over a pan and bake at 400°F for 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

    3. MOUNT a bacon bud at the top of each stem and place the stems into a vase. Tie the ribbon around the vase. Present to the happy dad.

     
    ALTERNATIVE: SEND A JERKY BOUQUET

    A turnkey alternative to making bacon roses is to send a delicious beef jerky bouquet—12 long-stemmed pieces of jerky—from GaryWest.com.

    Wrapped decoratively in red tissue and delivered in a traditional flower box, the steak bouquet is $42.00, with a choice of flavors: Traditional, Black Pepper Cajun and Teriyaki.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kabob Sandwiches

    For your grilling pleasure, here’s an alternative to burgers and other red meat from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

    Food on a stick is great fun for kids, and the entire family can help prepare this simple kabob recipe.

    Children can skewer the meat, which cooks in minutes on a grill or indoor George Foreman-type grill. Then everyone assembles his/her own pita sandwich, customizing the garnishes to their preferences.

    This recipe is classic Greek: roasted meat with tzatziki, the Greek yogurt-cucumber sauce, and whatever garnishes you like:

  • The basics: lettuce, onion, tomato
  • The “extras”: bell pepper rings, thin-sliced cucumber, radish or cucumber salad
  • The “whatevers” from the fridge: fresh or pickled chiles, crumbled feta, pepperoncini, pickles and of course, “whatever”
  • And did we mention, it’s quick?

       

    kabob-sandwiches-ws-recipe-230

    Find more delicious recipes at Williams-Sonoma.com. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    RECIPE: QUICK KABOB PITA SANDWICHES WITH TZATZIKI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt (more to taste)
  • 1 pound filet mignon, lamb loin or boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 pita bread rounds
  • Garnishes: shredded romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes and shaved red onion
  • More garnishes: bell pepper, chiles, feta, pepperoncini, pickles, whatever you’ve got
  •  
    For The Tzatziki (Yogurt Sauce)

  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons total chopped fresh dill and/or mint
  • Salt to taste
  •  

    lamb-kabobs-sliding-skewers-WS-230

    Iconic Greek lamb (shish) kabobs, made even easier with these stainless sliding skewers. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the tzatziki. Combine all ingredients and stir well. Add salt to taste and set aside. This can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge; serve it at room temperature.

    2. PREHEAT the outdoor grill to medium-high. For an indoor grill, place the grill plate on the lower level and the griddle plate on the upper level (Williams-Sonoma used the Cuisinart Elite Griddler). Preheat both sides to 450°F.

    3. STIR together in a small bowl the paprika, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In another bowl, toss the meat with the oil and 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture.

    4. THREAD 5 or 6 meat cubes onto each skewer and place on the grill (or the grill side of the electric griddle). Cook, turning the skewers occasionally, until the beef/lamb is cooked to medium, about 8 minutes, or the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Meanwhile…

     

    5. LIGHTLY toast the pita bread rounds on the grill or the griddle side of the electric griddle, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

    6. CUT the toasted pita rounds in half crosswise, then pry open. Fill the pockets with the meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onion other garnishes. Top with the tzatziki and serve immediately.

     
    OUR FAVORITE NEW SKEWERS

    Grilled kabobs is easy until it’s time to remove the cooked food from the skewer. New skewers from Williams-Sonoma (photo above)solve the problem with a sliding disk that lets you push food onto the plate in one swift motion.

    An added bonus: The square shape of the rod prevents foods from spinning when you turn kabobs on the grill. You’re guaranteed even cooking!

    This Williams-Sonoma exclusive is dishwasher safe, too. A great gift for grilling enthusiasts.

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: BLT Avocado Burger

    May is National Burger Month. We usually default to our list of 35+ burger recipes—at least one variation for every day of the month.

    But we’re calling out this Grilled Avocado BLT Burger from the California Avocado Commission, because it has all of our favorite “essential” toppings. Our idea of burger heaven includes avocado, bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions and tomato.

    This isn’t the fastest recipe to prepare, because all the components are homemade. But if your palate is like ours, it’s worth pulling out all the stops—especially on a holiday weekend when there’s more time.

    RECIPE: BLT AVOCADO BURGERS

    Ingredients For 6 Burgers
     
    For The Caramelized Chipotle Onions

  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle or other chipotle pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  •    

    Grilled-Avocado-BLT-Burger-californiaavocado-230ps

    Our favorite burger recipe has it all: avocado, bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions and tomato. Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

     
    For The Blue Cheese Spread

  • 6 1/2 ounce light garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese
  • 4 ounces Point Reyes blue cheese or other favorite blue cheese, crumbled
  •  
    For The Burger Patties

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1/3 cup minced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup Zinfandel or other hearty red wine
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano, thyme, and basil (in any combination)
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle or other chipotle pepper sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons spicy seasoned salt (like chipotle sea salt)
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
  •  
    For The Grilled Avocado

  • 12 fresh avocado slices
  • Balsamic vinegar, for brushing on the avocado slices
  • Spicy seasoned salt, for sprinkling on the avocado slices
  • 12 bacon slices, pre-cooked
  • 6 rolls of choice, split (we prefer brioche or whole grain rolls)
  • 6 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 6 large tomato slices (1/4-inch thick)
  •  

    original-blue-crackers-230

    Point Reyes blue cheese, made north of San Francisco, is a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. We can’t get enough of it (and all of the creamery’s products).

     

    Preparation

    Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

    1. MAKE the caramelized onions: Combine the onion, pepper sauce, broth, vinegar, oil, garlic and brown sugar in a 10-inch nonstick, fire-proof skillet. Cover with a lid and place on the grill rack. Cook the onion mixture for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized and most of the liquid is evaporated. Remove the pan and set aside.

    2. MAKE the cheese spread: Combine the cheeses in a fire-proof saucepan, cover and set aside.

    3. MAKE the patties: Combine the chuck, sirloin, onion, Zindandel, herbs, pepper sauce and seasoned salt in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties to fit the rolls. When the grill is ready…

    4. BRUSH the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once until done to preference (5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium). Meanwhile…

     
    5. PLACE the saucepan with the cheese spread on the outer edge of the rack to warm the cheese mixture, just until it reaches a very soft, spreadable consistency. Remove the the saucepan from the grill and set aside. During the final minutes of grilling the patties…

    6. BRUSH the avocado slices with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with a seasoned salt. Arrange on a rimmed nonstick perforated grilling pan coated lightly with oil, and grill alongside the patties for 1 to 2 minutes, turning as necessary.

    7. ADD the bacon slices to the pan during the final 30 seconds of grilling the patties. When the avocados are nicely grilled and the bacon is crisp, remove from the grill. When the patties are cooked, remove from the grill, stacking to keep them warm.

    8. PLACE the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

    9. ASSEMBLE the burgers: Spread a generous amount of the cheese mixture over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice, a patty, an equal portion of the caramelized onions, 2 avocado slices and 2 bacon slices. Add the roll tops and serve.

    It’s worth the effort!

    Tips To Make A Better Burger

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Turkey Chorizo

    Love spicy sausage but have been told to avoid the cholesterol? How about turkey chorizo?

    Made by family-run Diestel Turkey Ranch, it has lots of flavor and less calories, cholesterol and sodium* than conventional pork or beef chorizo.

    Whether in a Cinco de Mayo recipe or everyday breakfast burritos or scrambled eggs, it has only 2g fat per serving.

    The all-natural, Mexican-style chorizo is made from 100% pure ground turkey, is minimally processed and is gluten free. The family’s seasoning blend adds dimensions of flavor as well as a spicy kick.

    The Diestel Family Turkey Ranch has been sustainably raising turkeys for over four generations. Their turkeys and turkey products are humanely raised on GAP rated farms, without hormones, antibiotics or growth stimulants, resulting in tender and juicier turkeys with old-fashioned flavor and great texture.

    The products are sold at independent, natural and upscale food stores nationwide. Here’s a store locator.
     
    *A two-ounce serving has 60 calories, 15 from fat; 0g saturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 360mg sodium, 2g diegary fiber, 8g protein.

    MEXICAN CHORIZO VS. SPANISH CHORIZO

       

    diestel-turkey-ranch-chorizo-230r

    Turkey chorizo, cholesterol free. Photo courtesy Diestel Turkey Ranch.

     
    Don’t confuse Mexican- and Spanish-style chorizos. They have different uses.

    Mexican chorizo is a spicy ground meat sausage, sold fresh and uncooked. It can be purchased either loose or in a casing: Many traditional Mexican recipes call for the chorizo casing to be removed and the meat to be crumbled while cooking.

    The traditional chorizo meat is pork, but you can find beef and turkey versions. Use Mexican-style chorizo as you would any ground meat.

    Spanish chorizo is a cured, dried, ready-to-eat pork sausage. The casing is not removed prior to eating. Dense and chewy, Spanish-style chorizo is made in smoked, unsmoked, sweet and spicy varieties. It can be served as tapas, with other charcuterie, with a cheese plate, or added to recipes (paellas, soups, tortas, etc).

    Spanish chorizo is seasoned with smoked paprika, which is responsible for the vibrant color. Other traditional herbs and spices include cumin and garlic. Here’s a photo.

     

    chorizo-scrambled-eggs-bettycrocker-230

    Chorizo scrambled eggs. The recipe is below. Photo courtesy Betty Crocker.

     

    THINGS TO MAKE WITH CHORIZO

  • Cheese dishes: grilled cheese, mac and cheese
  • Eggs: baked, omelets, frittatas, scrambled
  • Stuffed: chiles, mushrooms, potato skins
  • Ground meat recipes: burgers, casseroles, meat loaf, stuffing
  • Tex Mex: enchiladas, nachos, tacos
  • Dips: onion dip, queso
  • Pasta and pizza
  • Soups: black bean, white bean with kale
  • Torta/tortilla
  •  
    RECIPE: TURKEY SCRAMBLED EGGS

    In Mexico, chorizo is often served at breakfast with scrambled eggs. Here’s a recipe from Betty Crocker that’s ready in 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 6 ounces chorizo sausage
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 slices thick-sliced bread or 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the casings from the sausage and cook the sausage on 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes until the meat is no longer pink, stirring and breaking up the sausage.

    2. BEAT the eggs in a medium bowl until blended. Begin to toast the bread or warm the tortillas.

    3. ADD the beaten eggs to the chorizo in the skillet and stir. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the eggs are scrambled and set. Taste and add salt as necessary.

    4. SPREAD the butter on the toasted slices of bread and place toast on individual plates. Spoon the eggs over the toast. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Chipotle Meatballs

    To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, how about Mexican-style meatballs?

    Meatballs in Chipotle Chile Sauce with Wisconsin Queso Fresco Cheese. Make them small for an appetizer, or bigger for a main course. Serve them with rice and pinto or black beans; or make a Cinco de Mayo meatball sub.

    This recipe serves four 4 as main course, 10-12 as appetizers.

    RECIPE: MEATBALLS IN CHIPOTLE CHILE SAUCE

    Ingredients

    For The Meatballs

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 3/4 cup Wisconsin Cotija or Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/2 large white onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  •    

    chipotle-meatballs-wmmb-230

    Chipotle meatballs. Photo courtesy WisDairy.com.

  • 2 slices coarse white bread, crust removed and soaked in 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) chipotle salsa
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 sprig mint (or pinch ground dried mint)
  • 1 cup queso fresco cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Garnish: cilantro, mint and queso fresco, as desired.
  •  

    queso-fresco-cut-230

    Queso fresco, made in Wisconsin—America’s largest cheese-producing state. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the meatball ingredients in bowl, using your hands. Refrigerate for one hour.

    2. SHAPE the meatballs in the desired size: larger for main course, smaller for appetizer.

    3. MAKE the sauce: Add the cinnamon to the chile salsa. Heat oil until quite hot (but not smoking) in a heavy, deep skillet. Add the salsa and “fry” until thick (it will splatter; consider a splatter screen).

    4. ADD the broth and bring to boil. Stir in the mint. Add the meatballs. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until meatballs are done.

    5. GARNISH each serving with crumbled queso fresco, cilantro and additional mint, asdesired.
     
    WHAT IS QUESO FRESCO

    Queso fresco is one of the most commonly-used cheeses for cooking in Latin America. It’s a soft, mild cheese similar to ricotta in that it’s made from curds. Cultures and rennet are added to pasteurized milk to create the curds, which are scooped into molds, then drained briefly.

     

    The resulting queso fresco is crumbly, with a mild and salty flavor and a slightly “grainy” texture. It is often sprinkled over foods, and when heated, it will melt.

    Queso fresco is most often used crumbled, as a topping for everything from salads to soups to enchiladas, and is melted in quesadillas and casseroles.

    Queso fresco should not be confused with queso blanco fresco, although the latter is similar. Queso blanco fresco is a fresh cheese that is made by direct acidification (not cultures and rennet) and pressed into blocks. It consequently has a firm texture and softens but does not melt: It can be sliced for pan-frying.

    The different types of Hispanic cheeses.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Kurobuta Ham

    kurobuta-bone-in-snakeriverfarms-230

    Ham doesn’t get any better than this Kurobuta. Photo courtesy Snake River Farms.

     

    If you’ve been thinking about a juicy Easter ham gracing your table next week, there’s still time to order the best.

    In our opinion, that’s a Kurobuta (koo-row-BOO-tuh) ham from Snake River Farms. We’ve order at least one each year, and we never cease to be very, very happy.

    Kurobuta ham has been called the world’s best ham. Made from pure-bred Berkshire pork, it’s also known as the Kobe beef of ham, because of the fine intramuscular marbling that makes the meat melt-in-your-mouth tender.

    How good is this ham? Succulent beyond expectation with a perfect smoke and impeccable seasoning, subtle notes of clove and other spices caressing one’s tongue.

    And the most celestial aroma! We were truly sad when the last bite was gone.

    Our butcher, one of New York’s finest, already carried the Wagyu beef (an American-bred Kobe style) from Snake River Farms, but not the Kurobuta ham. After we shared some of our Kurobuta with him, he became an instant fan and a wholesale client.

     

    We couldn’t be happier about that. Now, when we have a hankering for a great piece of ham, we just have to go downtown to Pino’s to pick it up.

    All you have to do is head to SnakeRiverFarms.com or phone 877.496.4220.

    And if you’re already set for Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are coming up soon! For lovers of fine food, a Kurobuta is a memorable gift.

    A final comment: Kurobuta ham isn’t a luxury: It’s a necessity!

    HAM FACTS & FUN

  • The cuts and types of ham.
  • The history of ham.
  • Ham and ham glaze recipes.
  • Ham trivia quiz #1.
  • Ham trivia quiz #2.
  •  
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Meatball Pot Pie

    For National Meatball Day, March 9th, here are two fun recipes with meatballs. courtesy of Casa Di Bertacchi,

    Both will be popular with busy moms, because the ingredients are quick to assemble. We don’t often use recipes that use a can of soup or canned potatoes as an ingredient; but here we make an exception to make it easy to celebrate National Meatball Day.

    The meatballs, too, are purchased frozen from Casa di Bertacchi.

    Of course, you make it from-scratch, using your favorite homemade pot pie recipe.

    RECIPE: MEATBALL POT PIE

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
  • 13 frozen fully cooked meatballs, thawed
  • 2 cans (10.5 ounces each) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced potatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon chopped dried rosemary
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 frozen or refrigerated pie crusts, at room temperature
  •    

    meatball-potpie-casameatballs-230

    Meatball Pot Pie. Photo courtesy Casa di Bertacchi.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients except the crusts in a 2-quart bowl. Place one pie crust evenly over the bottom and sides of a deep dish pie pan, pressing it up over the sides.

    3. FILL the pie crust with the meatball mixture. Cover with the second crust, sealing the edges and cutting slits in the top to vent steam. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.

     

    meatball-kabobs-casameatballs-230

    Fun food: Try meatball kabobs. Recipe and photo courtesy Casa di Bertacchi.

     

    RECIPE: MEATBALL KABOBS

    Spell it kabob, kaboab, kebab or kebap: The word is transliterated from Arabic, so there’s no one definitive spelling.

    Originating in the Eastern Mediterranean, a kabob consists of pieces of meat, fish or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer or spit.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 18 frozen, fully cooked meatballs, thawed
  • 1 medium yellow or green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 12 equal pieces
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow summer squash*, cut into 12 slices, 1-1/2 to 2 inches
  • 12 whole mushrooms
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Caesar dressing
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 long metal skewers†
  •  
    *Substitute yellow bell pepper.

    †If using bamboo skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes prior to assembling kabobs.
     
    Preparation 

    1. THREAD a meatball, bell pepper slice, yellow squash slice, mushroom and tomato on a long metal skewer. the Repeat pattern ending with a meatball.

    2. REPEAT for the other five skewers.

    3. COMBINE the Caesar dressing and black pepper.

    4. PLACE the meatball skewers directly on a hot grill. Baste the kabobs with the dressing.

    5. GRILL for 6–8 minutes, turning and basting every 2–3 minutes until done. Makes 6 kabobs.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Prosciutto Salad, The Sophisticated Ham Salad

    prosciutto-salad-olionyc-230

    Slices of prosciutto topped with a salad of
    baby arugula and watercress, topped with
    Parmigiano-Reggiano. Photo courtesy Olio e
    Piú | NYC.

     

    When you hear the words “ham salad,” you think of diced ham, possibly the leftovers from a holiday ham or Sunday dinner.

    Diced or minced ham is mixed with diced bell pepper, celery and onion or other favorite raw vegetables; perhaps with some hard-boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, pickle relish or green peas; and bound with mayonnaise (we use a mayo-Dijon blend).

    It’s one of those traditional Anglo-American sandwich salads, along with chicken salad, egg salad and tuna salad.

    It’s also served sans bread on a bed of green salad ingredients, perhaps with a scoop of another protein salad or a starch-based salad such as potato salad, macaroni salad or chopped vegetable salad.

    But there’s another, more sophisticated way to serve ham salad: as a first course with prosciutto or Serrano ham.

    Prosciutto, or Parma ham, is classically served as a first course with melon in Italian cuisine.

    At Olio e Piú in New York’s Greenwich Village, the chef takes a different direction, adding a salad of vinaigrette-dressed bitter greens (we like baby arugula, watercress or a mix) atop the prosciutto and topping it with some fresh-shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

     

    WHAT ARE BITTER GREENS

    Bitter greens are part of the larger family of leafy greens, which include the lettuces, known as “sweet greens.” The bitterness can be mild or strong. Greens harvested earlier in the season tend to be less bitter than more mature plants harvested later.

    Many bitter greens are dark green in color, although some are pale (endive, frisée) and some are red or have red accents (amaranth, chard, radicchio). If you like your veggies, you’ve likely had more than a few of these:

     

  • Amaranth
  • Arugula
  • Belgian endive
  • Beet greens
  • Broccoli rabe/rapini
  • Chard
  • Chicory
  • Cress
  • Collard greens
  • Curly endive
  • Dandelion greens
  • Escarole
  • Frisée
  • Kale
  • Mizuna
  • Mustard greens
  • Nettles
  • Radicchio
  • Spinach
  • Tatsoi
  • Turnip greens
  •  

    red-white-belgian-230

    Not all “bitter greens” are green. Above, white endive and red endive, the latter also known as radicchio. Photo courtesy Endive.com.

     

    PROSCIUTTO & SERRANO HAMS: THE DIFFERENCES

    Both prosciutto and Serrano hams are dry-cured: salted and hung in sheds to cure in the air. Both are served in very thin slices. Country ham, preferred in the U.S., is smoked, and a very different stye from dry-cured hams.

    While prosciutto and Serrano hams can be used interchangeably, they are different.

  • Prosciutto, from Italy, is cured for 10-12 months with a coating of lard. Serrano, from Spain, can be cured for up to 18 months (and at the high end, for 24 months). The differing times and microclimates affect the amount of wind that dries the hams, and thus the character of the final products.
  • They are made from different breeds of pigs: Prosciutto can be made from pig or wild boar, whereas Serrano is typically made from a breed of white pig.
  • The diet of the pigs differs. Parma pigs eat the local chestnuts, and are also fed the whey by-product of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Italian-made prosciutto is never made with nitrates. American made prosciutto, as well as both domestic and Spanish Serrano-style hams, can have added nitrates.
  • Prosciutto is considered more salty and fatty. Serrano is considered more flavorful and less fatty.
  •  
    MORE HAM

  • The different types of ham
  • American hams
  • Serrano ham vs. jamón ibérico
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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: The Flying Meatballs

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    Six large meatballs are tucked under a
    blanket of smooth tomato sauce. Photo by
    Faith Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

     

    There is a National Meatball Day: It’s coming up soon, on March 9th. And we know just how we’re going to celebrate: with lots and lots of The Flying Meatballs.

    The Flying Meatballs is a side business established by an elegant restaurant in Whippany, New Jersey, Il Capriccio. The restaurant’s meatballs have been a perennial menu favorite, with patrons always asking for orders to go.

    The Grande family, owners of the restaurant, decided that the meatballs were ideal for selling directly to consumers—that they would literally “fly off the shelves.” Hence the brand name.

    Made in small batches, the meatballs are now sold direct-to-consumers at TheFlyingMeatballs.com). They’ll also be at a growing list of deli counters, currently at Balducci’s and King’s (listen up, Fairway!).

    Six meatballs, blanketed in sauce, include a choice of:

  • The Classic Meatballs, a 50:50 blend of beef and veal, $16.00
  • 100% Premium Beef Meatballs, $15.00
  • Organic Grass-Fed Meatballs, $25.00
  • The Three Meats Meatballs—beef, pork and veal—$15.00
  • 100% Premium Turkey Meatballs, $15.00
  •  
    The company sent us a sample of each, and we’re now a raving fan. Each order of meatballs is packed by the half-dozen in a velvety tomato sauce. The meatballs are bit: about 3.5 ounces in weight and about three inches in diameter. Two meatballs is more than enough for adults; small eaters and children will do well with one meatball. A big eater, we consumed them without the conventional pasta or submarine roll, with just a big salad. We were more than satisfied.

    Everything is made from scratch, including the breadcrumbs. Just as at the restaurant, prime, natural cuts of meat and premium ingredients are combined into a dense yet tender texture. You get lots of great meat for the money.

    Chef Grande has a degree in engineering, which enabled him to design and build a proprietary meatball extruder. The technology creates a replicate a perfectly hand-rolled meatball, just like his grandmother makes.

    The meatballs are flash frozen after being made and keep their flavor and consistency until thawed and cooked.

    “We’re bringing the comforts of Nonna’s kitchen to customers’ doorsteps,” says chef Natale Grande. The recipe, handed down through generations, rocks. We must give a shout out to the wonderful sauce. A velvety purée, more a gravy than a conventional chunky sauce, it is so good we would like to buy buckets of it and put it on everything.

     

    DELICIOUS ACCOMPANIMENTS

    Pasta

    The company also sells premium imported pastas from Rustichella d’Abruzzo:

  • The curly al torchio (the torchio is the press that shapes them)
  • Bucatini, thick spaghetti with a hollow center
  • Casarecce, meaning “homestyle,” two-inch twists
  • Farro (spelt) penne rigate, short tubes with ridges
  • Fusilli, “little spindles,” a variation of corkscrew pasta
  • Spaghetti, the oldest cut (the name means “lengths of cords”)
  • Organic whole wheat spaghetti
  • Organic kamut pasta from pasta maker Gianluigi Peduzzi
  •  
    Grating Cheeses

    For a primo pasta experience, there’s a choice of six aged Italian cheeses:

     

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    Bundles of love. Photo courtesy The Flying Meatballs.

  • Vacche Rosse (“Red Cow”), 30 months aged), considered to be the finest Parmigiaino-Reggiano
  • Grana padano
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Percorino crotonese
  • Pecorino romano
  • Ricotta salata
  •  
    You can see that it’s not all about Parmigiano-Reggiano. The next time you make pasta, consider one of the others. Check out our article, Italian Grating Cheeses.
     
    Pasta Sauces

    The same is true with the sauce. Much as a tomato sauce is beloved on pasta, consider other favorites from the Grande family, including:

  • Basil pesto
  • Classic tomato ragu (the signature San Marzano-based tomatoes sauce that envelopes the meatballs
  • Roasted garlic and broccoli rabe purée
  • Mascarpone fondu, a smooth and very creamy cheese sauce made from blend of mascarpone cheese and 18-month-aged Grana Padano cheese
  •  
    Along with some fine olive oils and a mac and cheese (a blend of Gruyère, provolone and marscopone with a touch of nutmeg over imported gemelli pasta—we can’t wait to try it), TheFlyingMeatballs.com is a treasure trove for delicious Italian comfort food.

    For a treat or a gift (the packaging is quite attractive), order a slew of meatballs. All are delicious, although our personal favorite was the complex layering of Three Meats.

      

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