This popular dessert is so rich that I prefer serving it at home on a Sunday afternoon when friends and family come by to gossip over cups of good strong coffee. Of course you can serve it at the end of a meal, but make sure that the meal is a light one. Ladyfingers may be purchased at many Italian bakeries.
My dad likes to make a big roast for the holidays, and crown roast of pork is one of his specialties. It is an impressive roast, made from two pork loins tied together in a large round. Be sure to order it ahead from your butcher. The open center of a crown roast is perfect for a stuffing, and we usually use our Scognamillo Italian Sausage and Bacon Stuffing on page 166. For a lighter alternative, you can fill the center with sautéed seasonal vegetables or even a big batch of Christmas Escarole on page 169.
No one made Brussels sprouts like my Aunt Anna. She was roasting them long before you saw it done on television cooking shows. These were the first side dish to disappear from the table at a big dinner - it seemed that she should never make enough to satisfy us. We still make them today, in her honor, and we still go through a big bowl in no time flat.
• 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
• 1½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (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
• 2½ teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs, for dusting
• Olive oil, for deep-frying
Garnish and serve with:
• Pimento-stuffed green olives, speared onto toothpicks
• Patsy’s Vodka sauce (available at better grocers), heated
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 Parmesan, eggs, 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 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 breadcrumbs 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 200ºF. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place near the stove.
6. Pour enough oil into a large deep skillet to come 1 inch up the sides. Heat the oil over high heat to 360ºF. In batches without crowding, and adding more oil as needed, deep-fry the meatballs until browned and cooked through, about 1½ minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the baking sheet. Keep the cooked meatballs warm in the oven meatballs 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 before using in a 350ºF oven for about 10 minutes.)
7. For each serving, place a portion of meatballs in a martini glass. Garnish with parsley and green olives spears. Serve ramekins of the vodka sauce on the side for dipping the meatballs.
Photo: Gurwin Photography
Christmas dinner is over. You have been eating for about 24 hours straight, starting with the Feast of Seven Fishes the night before. Dessert has come and gone, and you swear that you cannot eat another bite. And then, one of your aunts or cousins brings out a plate of her homemade struffoli, little balls of fried dough, glazed with honey, and you find that you can nibble just a bit longer. These go down very easily with an espresso or a glass of sweet wine, such as Marsala. (These can be—and often are—served for The Seven Fishes, too, because they don’t have any butter in them.)
This past Friday – December 12th – would have been Frank Sinatra’s 99th birthday, so once again we celebrated ‘The Chairman of the Board’ – this time by hosting a commemorative luncheon (broadcast on SiriusXM’s ‘Siriusly Sinatra’ channel and hosted by Steve Tyrell).
Our special menu that afternoon featured many of Frank Sinatra’s favorite dishes, among them:
Makes about 4½ dozen
We keep desserts simple at Patsy’s Italian Restaurant. I think it is because my father worked at a bakery from when he was six years old, where he learned how much customers love the Old World classics like biscotti and cannoli. (There is a great story about his boss making him whistle all day long so he could tell that the kid wasn’t eating up the profits.) Many of our guest’s meals are finished with a plate of these anise biscotti and an espresso.