Scarred by childhood memories of dry, tasteless rice balls, I set out to create arancini the way we all want them to be: crisp on the outside with a shattering crust that breaks open to reveal tender grains of rice suspended in a rich and flavorful creamy sauce. At at the center: stretchy melted mozzarella cheese.
'Italian' on Serious Eats
This no-fuss, fail-safe oven-roasted tomato sauce is loaded with bold ingredients: salami, sherry vinegar, kalamata olives, capers and a smashed anchovy, all tied together with olive oil and a touch of white wine. Its secret ingredient? A bit of maple syrup for sweetness. Then, it's tossed with al dente spaghetti noodles and showered with Pecorino and lemon zest.
Who can say no to tender, braised meat in a rich sauce flavored with wine and vegetables, not to mention that ultra-flavorful and tender marrow inside a shank? The slow cooker makes the whole thing pretty darned easy, while beef shanks make it a heck of a lot cheaper than veal.
This recipe starts off with crumbled Italian sausage cooked down in a bit of butter. I sauté a few types of mushrooms in the rendered fat, then flavor them with shallots, garlic, and a little bit of soy sauce and lemon juice. They get finished in a simple creamy sauce flavored with Parmesan cheese. Add some pasta, top it all of with crisp bread crumbs, bake it directly in the cast iron pan you cooked it in, and you've got yourself a one-skillet meal fit for normal everyday folks who perhaps might occasionally feel like kings.
With the help of a pressure cooker, risotto becomes an insanely easy and hands-off cooking method. Here, it's loaded with layer upon layer of the flavors of fall: butternut squash, sage, brown butter, and just a hint of apple and maple syrup to round it out.
A sacred Italian-American institution, Sunday gravy is a meat-forward, all-day-simmered dish with as many recipes as there are Italian families who make it. My version incorporates flank steak braciole, Italian sausage, tender meatballs, and pork ribs along with onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, all simmered together in a rich red sauce.
Even at its worst, classic Italian-American chicken parmesan is pretty darn good. So how do you go about perfecting it? Our recipe has a buttermilk-based brine for maximum juiciness and tenderness. Tons of Parmesan cheese in our breading—along with a small drizzle of buttermilk— improves its flavor and texture. Our sauce is a slow-cooked, rich red sauce, and a mixture of fresh mozzarella and real Parmigiano-Reggiano top it off.
Homemade Italian sausage is formed into patties and stuffed with nuggets of mozzarella cheese. Then, the burgers are heavily pepper-crusted on the rims and finished with a dollop of creamy ricotta, red sauce, and fresh basil. Perhaps best of all, though, is the garnish of vinegar peppers that roast in the oven (or, alternately, cook in a tin right on the grill).
Beefaroni, macaroni and beef, chili mac, Johnny Marzetti, or American chop suey, call it what you will, but whatever its origins, there's one thing for sure: the stuff is delicious. Tender pasta with a rich tomato and beef sauce flavored with garlic and oregano, cooked together with onions and peppers, and finished with cheese, this is Italian-American comfort food at its finest. Not only that, but it's a ridiculously easy dish to put together, cooked 100% on the stovetop, and requiring nothing more than a pot, a bowl, and about half an hour of your time.
There are times when you can stand over the stove all day, slowly cooking that red sauce down. Then there are times when you need to put dinner on the table in under an hour. For those moments when convenience trumps patience, this is the red sauce to turn to. Simmered with plenty of garlic, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and basil, this sauce can be whipped up in no time but still has that deep, rich, long-cooked flavor.
Don't get me wrong—I'm not a health nut or calorie counter. But let's face it: the feeling you get after downing a bowl of creamy, cheesy Fettuccine Alfredo ain't the best. Wouldn't it be great to have a quick and easy version that has all the flavor of the cream-packed original, but with a cleaner flavor that doesn't leave you in a food coma?
This rich and hearty red sauce tastes like it's been cooked for hours, because it has. The secret to rich, naturally sweet, complex flavors is to cook the sauce in the oven, allowing the surface to brown while the sauce slowly concentrates. The resultant sauce is great on pasta, with meatballs, on your chicken parm, or scooped right out of the pan with a spoon on its own.
So many readers asked for my husband Joe Cleffie's meatball recipe that we had to oblige. With a few small tweaks made for foolproofing and streamlining, we're proud to present it here. This isn't the most complicated meatball recipe around—quite the opposite in fact. Our goal here is a recipe that anyone can make, no practice required, and get great results out of. I hope it inspires a thousand dinners in communities worldwide.
A base of roasted red pepper cream sauce swaths pre-cooked, medium-sized pasta shells. I like the sauce smooth and silky, so I purée the roasted pepper mixture before adding a combination of heavy cream and half-and-half, along with three cheeses: ricotta, Fontina, and Asiago. Italian sausage, garlic, and onions, boost the sauce with extra flavor.
The key to this amazingly rich-yet-fresh sauce made from perfect summertime tomatoes is that it's a blend of three different sauces: homemade oven-baked tomato paste is deeply sweet and rich; a classic tomato sauce provides bulk and flavor; and finally a splash of barely-cooked tomato purée guarantees the bright, fresh, fruity taste of vine-ripened tomatoes. Served on pasta, it's so flavorful you won't even need cheese on top.
This take on eggplant Parmesan uses zucchini in place of the eggplant. Rather than bake the breaded, pan-fried disks as one big layered mass in a baking dish, this version features little individual stacks of alternating layers of pepperoni, a tomato sauce, fresh basil, and a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. The result is something both homey and company-worthy at once.
Inspired by the famous Roman amatriciana sauce, a 6-ounce juicy patty of beef is topped with a spicy tomato-onion jam, crisped bacon, and a Pecorino Romano cheese crisp.
Prosciutto and Taleggio Sandwich With Fig Preserves From 'Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love From Our Tuscan Kitchen'
Debi Mazar calls this this sandwich from her new cookbook, Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen, co-written with husband Gabriele Corcos, "sexy." And there is something a little sultry about how the salty, fat-licked prosciutto, the funky cheese, the bracing radicchio, and the sweet fig jam come together.
Making double use of the grill, dish of rollatini starts with eggplant slices that are until tender and browned, then sees them returned to the grill as rollatini in a covered baking dish, just long enough for the cheese to melt and the marinara sauce to heat through.
Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos make a fine pork chop, but in this recipe from their new cookbook, Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen, it's the sauce that's the star.