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The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-

Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Summer Bounty:
Herbed Oils & Vinegars, Panzanella, Green Beans and Mint
By CeCe Dove, La Lama Mountain Ovens, 575-586-2286, ccdove@parshift.com

_______________________________________

The first twenty five years of my life was


spent in western Pennsylvania, where the
land is lush, the soil fertile, and the growing
season long. We grew up in a large,
gracious house set on a big lot, so there
was plenty of room for my father's big
garden, grape arbor, and lawn left over for
little girls to sit barefoot and make daisy
chains. Dad's garden was a marvel to me
then. It had picture perfect beds of lettuce,
and the straightest rows of tomatoes,
peppers, onions, beans, and celery. Now
after 30 years of gardening myself, his still
remains an inspiration and a marvel to me.

The second twenty five years of my life was


spent in northern California. There our
Maria and Vergilio Bussotti (cousin of Pietro Zara) Picture: 1960
home was also large and gracious but set
Picking summer figs from their back-yard tree in Detroit, MI.
on a steep hillside with little space for a
garden. I resorted to patio gardening. The
growing season was very long, but cool, and not given to raising the vegetables that a Mediterranean diet
craves. It was here I discovered the glories of herb gardening and the disappointment of year after year of
failed tomatoes. But we were blessed with grand farmers' markets which my daughter and I visited every
Sunday morning. What I couldn't grow myself I could get in abundance from the best of the local growers.

Now we are in the mountains of northern New Mexico which has the shortest growing season of all. At
8200 feet the nights remain cool almost all year but during July and August the afternoons are extremely
hot. The weather is unpredictable, ranging from weeks on end of winds to hail storms to monsoons to
perfect hot, sunny afternoons and balmy evenings. The first snow falls by Halloween at the last melts in
late May. We live in a small (but most gracious) old restored adobe farmhouse on eight acres of beautiful
land studded with pinon and cedar. Two ponds accommodate our neighbors horses (they mow our 8-
acre lawn) and the migrating ducks. Three big old apricot trees, several wild plums, a chokecherry, and
one winter apple tree provide fruit for pies, jams, and drying for the winter. Even though the growing
season is the shortest I've ever dealt with, our large gardens include all that my father's had plus the
herbs I've come to love plus things he never grew like cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, French haricot verts,
and habaneros. What makes this possible is the attached greenhouse where, this year, we started over
60 tomato plants and dozens of other vegetables that need a little extra time. We also use the
greenhouse beds to grow our own greens like Swiss chard, arugula, and spinach for the long cold winter.
All my herbs in the garden are duplicated in pots to move to the greenhouse for the winter. They include
basil, rosemary, sage, marjoram, thyme, parsley, oregano, salad burnet, tarragon, and sorrel.

Our first radishes have already been eaten and we won't buy any lettuces until the winter. Now in mid-
July we look forward soon to the first tiny green beans and sweet juicy tomatoes. Whether you grow your
own or visit one of the many farmers' markets available across the country or even just depend on the

Family Secrets #013 - Originally Published 07/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 C Dove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - ccdove@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

local grocer, the availability of wonderful summer produce is a boon to cooks of all stripes, but especially
to the Italian cook whose repertoire depends on this.

In my opinion there is only one time of year to enjoy the following recipes, and that would be when the
basil is fresh, the tomatoes are perfectly vine ripened and the green beans are so tender that they'll cook
in 3 or 4 minutes. However, if you take a morning or two or make up a half dozen or so bottles of herbed
vinegar and oil, the echoes of summer will be with you all through the winter. It is a fun, easy project and
you can make extra for use as holiday gifts. Collecting interesting bottles throughout the year makes it
even more fun. You can keep your eyes open at flea markets, or even in your own liquor cabinet, or ask
neighbors to save interesting bottles (and their corks or caps). There are no amounts given in the herbed
vinegar and oil recipes because none are needed. Use your eyes to make an attractive mixture and use
your sense of taste to combine herbs. Here are a few of my favorites.

_____________________________

Spicy Herbed Vinegar

Per bottle

White Wine Vinegar (Old Monk makes one of good quality that I buy
by the gallon)
1 red jalapeno or habanero or other small hot pepper, fresh
About one cup of mixed fresh herbs. For example: fresh thyme and
oregano make a very nice combination. The amount will depend on
the size of your bottle.
1 peeled fresh garlic clove

If you are picking your own herbs, do it early in the morning when it is
cool. Wash well in cold water and spin dry in a salad spinner. Set aside
on paper towels. Wash the pepper and make a slit on two sides with a
sharp paring knife. Drop the garlic and pepper into the clean dry bottle. Fold and bend
the herbs to fit into the bottle, using the blunt end of a wooden skewer to push them in. Fill the bottle with
the vinegar. Cork, label, and set aside in a cool, dark place for at least a week before using. They will
keep for a year, getting stronger and better each month.

Herbed Oils

Per bottle:

These are made the same way as the vinegar, but I do not usually
include any hot pepper. My favorite is Olio Sante (literally, holy oil)
which is simply fresh basil leaves packed into the bottle and then filled
with extra virgin olive oil. Another family favorite is rosemary oil with a
garlic clove added. Always use extra virgin olive oil and store out of
direct light.

Family Secrets #013 - Originally Published 07/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 C Dove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - ccdove@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Panzanella

Heres a real summer treat that can add variety to your salad repertoire or serve as a light dinner on a hot
summer night.

Salad to serve four:

Four generous slices of French or Italian bread, slightly stale (do not use sliced white "air" bread), cut
into rough 1/2 inch cubes
Four medium perfectly vine ripened tomatoes, washed and cut into rough 1/2 cubes
1/2 cup fresh basil, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into rough 1/2 cubes (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tblsp. vinegar (either red or white)
1 tsp. salt
Fresh ground pepper

Amounts are not critical in this recipe. Put the bread, tomatoes, basil, onion, and optional cucumber into a
pretty salad bowl. Sprinkle on the olive oil and vinegar. Add the salt and pepper and toss well. Let sit at
least two hours at room temperature before serving. The tomatoes should give up enough juice to soften
the bread. If not, add enough additional olive oil to accomplish this. Taste again for salt and serve at room
temperature.

Green Beans with Mint

To serve four:

1 lb. fresh green beans (if you can get Romano beans all the better!)
1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
1 Tblsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
2 Tblsp. extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle of vinegar
1 tsp. salt

Drop the beans in boiling salted water and cook until just tender with a little snap left. If they are very
fresh this will only take 3 or 4 minutes. Immediately drain and place in ice water to stop the cooking and
retain the color. As soon as they are cool to the touch, drain and spread out on paper towels to absorb as
much water as possible. Place in serving dish. Add all other ingredients, toss well and let marinate at
room temperature until ready to serve. Taste again for salt because beans will absorb quite a lot of salt in
the marinating process. These are also excellent slightly chilled.

Altitude Adjustment: None necessary.

Family Secrets #013 - Originally Published 07/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 C Dove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - ccdove@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Sausage - Making Your Own


By CeCe Dove, La Lama Mountain Ovens, 575-586-2286, ccdove@parshift.com

_______________________________________

No self respecting Italian kitchen would be without a


supply of good sausage. This universal food, common
to every major cuisine of the world is an integral and
beloved part of our diet. There is certainly a specialty
sausage for every region of Italy and most likely for
every community within all regions. Simply put, you
could probably find hundreds of variations on this
product travelling through Italy.

Historically sausage was developed by the farmer to


make use of all his resources. It made it possible for
him to use "everything but the squeal". All the odds
and ends from the animal went into it and it provided
for his family throughout the winter. Over time the
large commercial meat packers "sanitized" the recipes
until all that was available in the markets was a bland,
universal product.
Meat display case at ccDove Fine Foods. Picture: 1981
In the United States, it has only been in the past 15
years or so that we've been able to find something other than the standard commercial varieties available
in supermarkets. Now, good delicatessens and specialty meat markets are making interesting variations
on the usual pork product, using turkey or chicken, fresh herbs, even adding fruits such as apple. Pork
sausage is, however, the hallmark for Italian cookery, and having 20 pounds stashed in the freezer gives
the cook a real start on innumerable Italian dishes.

Making your own has several advantages. The most obvious is that you choose the quality and freshness
of the meat. You also control the amount of fat, something we are all very aware of today. You can
experiment at will with herbs, spices, and other additions according to your own likes and dislikes. And
best of all, the final cost will be about half of what you would pay for a well made specialty sausage.

When I owned ccDove Fine Foods in California in the 1980's we made several hundred pounds each
week. We had a repertoire of about a dozen different varieties ranging from the standard sweet and hot
Italian to a Saucisse au Greq (lamb) on to a Swedish beef and potato variety. My original recipe for the
lamb sausage is published in California Fresh1. Here we will concentrate on my favorite two Italian
recipes. The first is a basic, but delicious hot sausage and the second is my holiday sausage which is a
rich, luscious treat.

While no recipe should ever be "written in stone" I would caution you about reducing the amount of fat
below what is indicated. After much experimentation this ratio of fat to meat is the smallest you can use
and still have a moist and succulent sausage. Alter the seasonings to fit your taste, but remember that
salt is a necessary preservative, even in a cooked final product. Fatback can be ordered from your
butcher or meat distributor. This is a very dense, smooth fat used in making pats as well as sausage. By
trimming the meat first you discard most all of the original fat, then add back in the correct amount of
more desirable fat. This serves two purposes. First, it allows you to control the ratio of meat to fat; and
second, it replaces the lower quality, loose fat on the meat which tends to gum up the blades of your
grinder and stuffer. There are two schools of thought on this matter. One side does it the way I've
explained and the other chooses to go with the fat that is on the pork butt and not trim it or add fresh
fatback.
Family Secrets #014 - Originally Published 08/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens
1998 C Dove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - ccdove@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

You can use either a table top meat grinder (with


sausage stuffing attachment) or the meat grinder
and sausage horn attachment to an electric mixer
such as the Kitchen Aid. For both of these recipes
you would use the medium or coarse plate. The
casings are available through wholesale meat
distributors or any good butcher will special order
them for you. I prefer a natural hog casing which is
purchased by "the hank". A hank of casings will
make at least 150 pounds of sausage. Cost will run
around $15 to $18 dollars, they will arrive heavily
salted, and should keep in the refrigerator for at
least six months. If you prefer not to use casings,
the sausage can be formed into patties and be
perfectly delicious if not as versatile in their use. If
you do use the casings, allow a generous foot per
pound.

To prepare casings: Measure off the amount of


casings you will need for your recipe, being
generous in your measurements in case of a tear.
Soak in cold water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile clean and rinse the end of your kitchen tap (remove any
aerator you may have there). Take the end of the casing and fit it onto the tap then turn the cold water on
slowly. This will fill and rinse the inside of the casing and allow you to see any tears in it. Keep the bowl
under the tap to catch the slippery casings and not let them go down the drain! If you find a tear, cut that
piece out and discard it. Your final cleaned casing does not have to be one single piece, but should be at
least 18 inches long for ease of stuffing. The longer the piece the quicker the stuffing process. Once
prepared the casings should be used within an hour or they will tend to dry out and become difficult.

A few tricks to remember: Stuffing is a two-person job. Lightly oil the sausage horn and the casings will
slip right on. Turn machine on before tying the knot in the end to push out the air in the horn. As soon as
you see the meat, tie your knot and stuff continuously until you either run out of meat or need to put a
new casing on the horn. Tie off the end and set aside until all meat is used. Keep a straight pin within
reach and as you stuff the casings, prick with the pin when you see an air bubble. This will prevent
bursting and keep your sausage even and
professional looking.

If you wish to link the sausage at this


point, lay it out in a straight line and twist
two or three times into whatever length
you want. Refrigerate overnight before
packaging and freezing. This allows them
to dry slightly and mellows the flavor.
Cook or freeze the next day.
_____________________________

Family Secrets #014 - Originally Published 08/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 C Dove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - ccdove@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Hot Italian Sausage

Makes 25 lbs.
20 lbs. trimmed pork butt
4 lbs. cubed pork fat back
8 Tblsp. salt
5 Tblsp. coarse ground black pepper
5 Tblsp. ground coriander
16 large garlic cloves, minced
8 Tblsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup paprika
2 cups dry white wine
Approximately 30 feet of casings

Trim and discard all visible fat and gristle from pork. Cube pork and fat back into pieces to fit your grinder
- not more than one inch cubes. Grind together. Combine salt, pepper, coriander, garlic, red pepper and
paprika in bowl and mix well. Add to ground meat mixture along with wine and mix well with your hands
trying not to compact the meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Keep meat mixture as cold as possible
for ease of stuffing. Follow above directions for stuffing. Refrigerate, loosely covered, for 12 hours before
cooking or freezing.

Freezer life: 4 months.

Holiday Sausage

Makes 25 lbs.
16 lbs. trimmed pork butt
4 lbs. pork fat back
3 lbs. whole milk mozzarella, cut in small dice of about 1/4 inch
6 bunches Italian parsley, minced
26 ounces pumat (dried tomatoes in oil), drained and chopped coarsely
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 Tblsp. each of dried basil, fennel seed, coarse black pepper, salt, and ground coriander
3 cups dry white wine
Approximately 30 feet of casings

Trim and discard all visible fat and gristle from pork. Cube pork and fat back to fit grinder. Grind together.
Mix basil, fennel seed, pepper, salt and coriander together. Add to pork with parsley, cheese, vinegar,
pumat, and wine. Mix gently but well by hand. Refrigerate overnight and stuff the next day following
directions above. Be sure to keep the meat mixture as cold as possible. Refrigerate again, loosely
covered overnight.

Freezer life: 2 to 3 months.

Altitude Adjustment: None needed.

1
Junior League of Oakland, California Fresh, forward by M.F.K. Fisher, Junior League of Oakland-East Bay, Inc., 1985. To order:
J.L.O.E.B., 1980 Mountain Blvd., Oakland, CA 94611. This is a sophisticated, well tested, beautifully illustrated series of recipes
contributed by professional chefs as well as League members.

Family Secrets #014 - Originally Published 08/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 C Dove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - ccdove@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Farmhouse Dinner
By Ray Zara, La Lama Mountain Ovens, 575-586-2286, rezara@parshift.com

_______________________________________

For those of you who toil in your vegetable garden all summer the fruits of
your labor fill your basket in August and the month or two following. If you
are not fortunate enough to have such a garden there are countless
produce stands along the highways, and many farmers markets in most
areas of the country, that make available a variety of fresh, high quality
produce. With August comes the time of year to enjoy natures bounty by
serving a completely fresh-from-scratch dinner. This can be a very
rewarding experience for those of you who would like to try it. The side
benefit is excellent eating.

The following dinner menu can be done entirely from your garden or
farmers market, and your freezer, assuming you made your own
sausage (see Secret #14). If you didnt, just buy some good quality
sausage. Uncle Joe was the sausage maker in our family, and this meal
would have topped off his autumn sausage ritual perfectly.

The menu is grilled sausage links, roasted baby red and yellow beets
served on a bed of sauted beet greens, battered zucchini flowers, and
homemade bread. Add a tossed green salad from your garden and you
have a meal that will entice even the most jaded summer appetite.

The finished plate has a definite country appeal, is delicious and healthy, Aunt Norma (1906-1975) and
and easy on the budget. The preparation of this dinner can be a family Uncle Joe Marchionna (1903-1986)
affair and fun to do. As a kid I remember my dad going out early in the Picture: 1940
morning to pick the zucchini flowers and Mom cooking them as fast as we kids could eat them! Out of the
garden, into the pan, into our hands in a matter of minutes. However, you can certainly hold those flowers
for dinner. As a kid I also remember hating beets because we didnt grow our own and only ate the
canned variety. If you feel the same way, I highly
recommend you try these fresh beets. Roasting
them concentrates the sugars and results in an
astonishingly different vegetable.

If you are working from your garden, start early in


the morning to harvest the squash flowers and
beets.

For the squash blossoms you can use zucchini,


pumpkin, or any summer squash blossom. The best
blossoms are the females, which grow directly from
the plant stem (not on the end of the fruit). By
picking these you will forgo yet another fruit. As you
pick each one, reach inside and pluck out and
discard the pistola. . Allow two blossoms per person.
Rinse the blossoms in cold water, shaking off the

Family Secrets #015 - Originally Published 08/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 REZara - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - rezara@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

excess, and lay on paper towels. Refrigerate covered with plastic


wrap until ready to cook.

Harvest your beets, allowing three per person. Wash well, using a
brush to dislodge any dirt from the ends. Cut off the green tops about
one inch above the beet. If the greens are large, tear out the tough
center rib. Wash the beet greens in several changes of cold water
and place in a colander to drain. Make one or two foil packets,
separating the yellow and red beets if you are using both. Place the
beets with any clinging water into the packets and seal. Place in 375
degree oven for approximately 45 minutes, depending on the size of
the beets. Big, older beets will take up to an hour and 15 minutes,
while small young ones will cook in 35 to 45 minutes. Test with a
sharp paring knife. It should pierce the beet easily. When done, open
foil and allow to cool until you can handle them. At this point the skin will slip off easily. After skinning, trim
off the ends, slice about 1/4 inch thick and drizzle with a good vinaigrette. Set aside, covered, at room
temperature until dinner.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Drop in the cleaned beet greens, return to
the boil and cook three minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Squeeze the greens
by handfuls, getting out as much moisture as you can. Coarsely chop, cover and refrigerate until ready for
the next phase of cooking.

Finishing off dinner is now a matter of 15 or 20 minutes. The batter for the flowers can be put together in
five minutes, and while the sausage is grilling you can saut the flowers and the beet greens.

_______________________________________

Batter for Squash Flowers

Total ingredients:

3/4 cup flour


3/4 cup half and half cream
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Step One: Prepare the batter

Combine all ingredients in a bowl large enough to accommodate the ingredients plus 5 or 6 squash
flowers. Whisk until smooth and creamy with no lumps.

Family Secrets #015 - Originally Published 08/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 REZara - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - rezara@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Step Two: Saut the flowers

Place a large, heavy bottomed saut pan over medium heat. Add olive oil until 1/2 deep. When oil is
hot enough to crackle a drop of water it is ready for the flowers. Place 5 or 6 flowers in the batter
mixture, make sure the batter covers all area of the flower. Lift the flowers by the stem end and drain
excess batter. Place each flower in the hot oil. Arrange in the pan so they do not touch each other.
Do not overcrowd. Saut on one side for 3 to 4 minutes, lift with a pair of tongs, when the bottom is
golden brown turn the flowers and repeat the saut process. When finished, remove from the skillet
and drain on a brown paper bag to remove excess oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and serve.

Sauted Beet Greens

Total Ingredients:

2 cups coarsely chopped blanched beet greens


1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced fine
Salt to taste

This is a single step procedure. Place saut pan over


medium heat with olive oil in pan, add minced garlic and
immediately add chopped beet greens. Shake pan
vigorously, constantly move greens in pan until hot
throughout. Salt to taste.

You are now ready to assemble your farmhouse dinner.


Place a serving of the sauted beet greens on the plate and
place on top a serving of the marinated roasted yellow and red beets. Add 2 of the squash flowers and
finish with 2 grilled sausage links. Serve with a basket of sliced homemade bread and a tossed mixed
garden salad, and pour a glass of dry red wine. It just doesnt get much better than this. Enjoy.

Altitude Adjustments: None necessary.

Family Secrets #015 - Originally Published 08/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 REZara - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - rezara@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Summer Soups
By CeCe Dove, La Lama Mountain Ovens, 575-586-2286, ccdove@parshift.com
_______________________________________

Just about this time of the year I begin to get a craving for
something a little more complex in flavor than the standard
summer fare. My appetite is not yet geared to the long
simmering stews and braises of winter, but is bored with the
simple grills and salads of summer. At the same time, the
garden is bursting with more vegetables than it is possible to
eat, can, pickle, freeze, or preserve. Soup to the rescue! Not
the long-simmering, hearty soups of winter, but soups that
highlight the best of the garden (or farmer's market), and that
don't keep your stove going for hours at a time.

When we were growing up soup was an integral part of our


diet. It was so much a part that every single Monday that my
mother was alive, we had soup for supper. The simple
reason was that Mondays were "wash days" and in the
winter she could put a long cooking pot on the stove, return
to her old Dexter double tub, and serve up a hearty, healthy
meal in the evening. In the summer she, or on special Picture: 1945 - Left to right:
occasions my Dad, could put together a summer minestra Cousin Merceda Saffron nee Biordi (1943- )
Cecelia Dove, nee Zara (1941- )
from the garden in quick order and the meal was equally Cousin Diana Luskin Biordi (1940- )
delicious. So we all grew up with an appreciation of good Brother Raymond Zara (1938- )
homemade soups. You can be as rustic or as elegant as you
wish with this versatile dish, running the gamut from crystal clear consomm to thick and rich minestrone.
My fond memories of this dish revolve around sitting down with cousins and aunts and uncles for an
informal meal of a great bowl of soup, a thick slab of homemade bread and a glass of wine. To this day I
still love soup as a meal, not an appetizer or first course. This menu may not make culinary history, but it
makes a great meal that feeds the soul as well as the appetite.

The two recipes that follow make the most of our summer produce. After 30 years of gardening I still plant
too many zucchini and summer squash. Every gardener I know makes this mistake and there are even
comic strips about growing zucchini. Zucchini jokes in summer are like fruitcake jokes at Christmas. But
once you taste the following recipe for Cream of Zucchini soup you will rethink your garden. It is as
beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat. It is elegantly smooth and silky, vivid emerald green, and tastes
simply of summer. My imagination is already at work, waiting for the first snowfall, the first fire roaring, to
pull out a pint from my freezer to relive the tastes of summer. I cannot attribute this recipe to family,
however. It was given to me by my good friend, Margaret Nes, from Taos, and it is with her permission
that I present it here. She, too, used to plant too many zucchini, but we now agree that you can never
ever again have too many. I hope that it will become part of my family's recipes for future generations.

The second recipe is definitely from the family files. It is a lightened version of the classic Minestrone. The
use of the Parmesan rind in the water, instead of a hearty broth is an old trick used to give depth and
flavor to soups and stews made without meat stock. The optional chicken will make this a more
substantial meal but even without it, the soup is flavorful enough to stand on its own. Because of the use
of soft summer vegetables I do not think this soup freezes very well. It is a great way to use up the end-
of-the-summer garden when you have just a handful of peas, string beans, a single zucchini or two or
whatever else is there that isn't enough for a whole meal on its own. Feel free to vary the vegetables
according to what you have on hand. This recipe is a simple structure into which you can fit your own
ingredients.
_____________________________
Family Secrets #016 - Originally Published 09/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens
1998 C Dove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - ccdove@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Cream of Zucchini Soup

5 lbs. zucchini 1 Tblsp. salt


2 medium onions Fresh herb bouquet
1/4 lb. butter 2 1/2 cups water

Wash the zucchini and trim ends. If they are really over mature just use the outside flesh and discard the
center core. If you have a food processor with a grater attachment you can make quick work of this. If not,
be patient and use a food grater. Grate the onions first. Melt the butter in a large soup pot, add the onions
over low heat and while they sweat and soften for about 5 minutes, grate the zucchini. Add the zucchini to
the pot with the salt and mix it all up well. Turn heat up and add the water and herbs of your choice. A
nice mix is a handful of marjoram, basil and parsley tied up with kitchen string (for fishing out later). Bring
to a boil. Turn heat down to achieve a simmer. Cover and cook about 30 minutes, until vegetables are
very tender. Fish out the herbs. Puree the soup in a blender using only enough of the liquid to make a
thick puree. At this point you can freeze it to finish later or continue on to serve.

To serve: Thin the puree with a little of the cooking liquid, add a little half and half or milk and taste for
salt. You could garnish with croutons, or a spoonful of sour cream if you like. If the puree has been
frozen, you can thin it with canned vegetable or chicken stock, water, or milk - whatever your taste
dictates.

Summer Minestra

2 cups mixed aromatic vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, fennel, leeks) diced
1 lb. fresh tomatoes, washed and coarsely chopped (or use chopped canned with juice)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 medium zucchini or summer squash or a combination, cut bite size
3 cups fresh greens shredded (spinach, chard, rapini, beet greens, kale are possibilities)
1/2 cup fresh snap peas trimmed and halved or shelled peas
1 cup fresh string beans, trimmed and cut in 1 in. pieces
1 medium potato, diced
1 piece of Parmesan rind, about 2 or 3 oz.
3 Tblsp. olive oil
8 cups of water
1 whole skinned, boneless chicken breast (optional),
cubed into bite size pieces
1 cup cooked white beans (or canned cannellini work well)
An herb bouquet of your choice, tied up with kitchen string
Salt and pepper to taste

Warm the olive oil in the soup pot. Add the aromatic vegetables
and soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, water, Parmesan rind, herb bouquet, salt
lightly (the cheese will add salt as it cooks), and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes and cook about 15
minutes. If you are using the chicken, add it in with the potatoes. Add string beans and cook another 10
minutes. Add zucchini, peas and greens and cook an additional 15 minutes. Taste for salt as you add
each ingredient and add as necessary for your taste. Add beans and simmer 5 minutes more. If the soup
is too thick for your taste, add water in small amounts. Fish out the cheese rind and herb bouquet and
serve piping hot. A spoonful of pesto stirred into each serving is a traditional garnish and adds yet
another layer of flavor.

Altitude Adjustment: None necessary

Family Secrets #016 - Originally Published 09/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 C Dove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - ccdove@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Chicken Spezzatino -
Different and Delightful
By Ray Zara, La Lama Mountain Ovens, 575-586-2286, rezara@parshift.com
_______________________________________

Now that the summer barbecue season is drawing to a


close, and everyone has had their fill of grilled chicken,
the search begins for different methods of preparing this
delicious bird. A quick search of popular cookbooks
reveals many familiar recipes to prepare this universal
staple. Most of them share one thing in common, you've
been there and done that. Search and search as you
may, there are not that many avenues available to come
up with a unique recipe for the common bird. Until now.

Mom called the dish "spitzad", probable a dialect of her


birthplace. We believe the more general Italian name to
be "spezzatino", with "spizzate" the name in the Abruzzi
dialect. In all my travels I have never seen this dish on a
menu, nor have I ever seen it published in a cookbook.
So, if something different is what you are looking for,
read on.

Aunt Mary, Mom and my sister Gloria frequently served


chicken prepared this way and it was one of my father's
all time favorites. At home, mom presented the dinner
with a nice tossed salad, home made bread, a glass of Aunt Mary Biordi nee Buzzelli (1913-1987)
white wine and lots of spitzad. She intentionally left out Picture above: 1944. Picture below: circa 1930
the vegetables and a starch, because we consumed
such huge amounts of the chicken, there was no room
for the trimmings. This is not to say that presenting this
meal with vegetables and a starch is not acceptable, but
rather a point of personal preference. It would also make
a very special center dish for a buffet.

The dish is somewhat simple to prepare and


outrageously delicious. It consists of fresh chicken, bone
in, cut in small pieces and coated with a lemon/egg
mixture. When considering how much chicken to serve,
you have to take into consideration that it is bone-in,
therefore a quick rule of thumb is that you will need
approximately 1 lb. of trimmed chicken per person. The
next decision to make is whether to use a whole cut up
chicken or specific parts. My personal preference is to
purchase either all thighs or leg and thigh sections.
These cuts, (all dark meat), are more succulent than
their white meat counterparts. However, chicken breasts
or using a whole cut up chicken will work fine. A kitchen
cleaver is a handy tool for this job.

Family Secrets #017 - Originally Published 09/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 REZara - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - rezara@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

It is important to pay particular attention to cutting the chicken. If using a whole chicken, you want to cut
each breast half into 2 to 3 pieces, depending on the size. Each thigh should be cut in half and each leg
also cut in half. Wings generally are not included, unless they are large. If using large wings, trim the tip
of the wing and disjoint the wing into 2 pieces. Once all the cutting is done, go back over each piece
trimming loose skin flaps and any fat. If time permits, immerse the chicken in lightly salted ice water for
1/2 hr., up to 2 hours before you begin cooking. The brining step is not absolutely necessary, but it will
enhance the flavor of the dish and is well worth the time and effort.

_____________________________

Chicken Spitzad
Total ingredients:

3 lbs. of cut up, bone-in chicken


3 large eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprig of fresh rosemary (optional)

Step One: Roast the chicken

If the chicken is soaked, drain and pat dry on


paper towels. Place the cut up chicken pieces in
roast pan. Use no liquid or oil. Lightly shake salt
and pepper to taste and add the sprig of
rosemary. Cover roast pan and place in 350
degree preheated oven for 1 hr This step can be
completed up to an hour ahead of finishing.
Remove the chicken from roasting pan and
place on a wire rack until it is thoroughly drained.

Step Two: Coat and finish the spitzad

In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs until they begin to thicken slightly. Add lemon juice slowly while
continuing to whisk vigorously until all of the lemon juice is incorporated. Place a dry, high sided,
heavy bottomed sauce pot over high heat for a few moments until the bottom is thoroughly heated.
Place the drained chicken pieces in the pot and slowly begin to drizzle in the egg/lemon mixture,
constantly turning the chicken with a wooden spoon. You will notice that the egg/lemon mixture will
coat the chicken and the heat will make the coating firm. When all of the mixture has been used and
the coating is good and firm you may turn the chicken out onto a serving platter

Although you may have knives and forks placed at your dinner service, this dish is best enjoyed as a
finger food. For those of you who are adventuresome, this entre can be made with lamb cubes. Follow
the same procedure for the chicken, but eliminate the soaking in ice water. Use a tender cut of lamb,
trimming it well. The lamb Spitzad makes a delightful change of pace and is a bit more elegant. Since the
lamb cubes are boneless, you can use the forks you found so useless when preparing the chicken.

This dish has never failed to produce a lot of accolades when served to family and guests. Im quite sure
it will bring the same results to you.

Altitude Adjustment: None required.

Family Secrets #017 - Originally Published 09/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 REZara - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - rezara@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Chicken Scaparelli
By Ray Zara, La Lama Mountain Ovens, 575-586-2286, rezara@parshift.com
_______________________________________

Weve all learned the basic wine with food rule, Red wine with pasta and
meat, white wine with fish and fowl. Im quite sure that this basic guideline
has influenced your decision when choosing a bottle of wine to serve with
your dinner. Over the years I have stayed fairly close to this premise, straying
occasionally to satisfy my own moods and personal choices. One would
further surmise the same premise holds true when cooking with wine; but
here we are going to stray from tradition in the pursuit of turning the common
chicken into a very uncommon but delightful entre.

This was one of my sister Glorias favorite dishes. I have researched our
library of Italian cookbooks and was unsuccessful in finding anything like it.
While living in New Jersey, however, I remember seeing it on a menu in a
great Italian restaurant in Union City called Casa Dante. The dish consists of
chicken and sausage, braised in an infused rosemary red wine sauce.
Scaparelli is simple to prepare and outlandishly delicious, and for those of
you who are tradition bound, it is an opportunity to break the rules and serve
a dry red dinner wine with a chicken dish.

You may choose to use a whole chicken, or chicken parts cut in the same
manner as my recipe for spitzad. Please reference the spitzad recipe for
cutting instructions.

Infusion is a very simple technique that will impart the flavor of fresh
rosemary into the sauce without having the herb physically present in the Sister Gloria(1923-1995)
Brother Bill (1921-1995)
finished dish. At the proper time you will add a couple of sprigs of fresh Picture 1929
rosemary to the pan. Later, you will pick the rosemary out of the sauce and
discard it.

Cured olives are used in this recipe. You can generally find them in the ethnic or deli section at your local
supermarket. These olives are always packed dry and with pits, and are not to be confused with canned olives in
liquid. They add a special layer of flavor to the final dish that cannot be achieved with a substitute.

Although not absolutely necessary, brining the cut up chicken is recommended, if time allows.

_______________________________________

Chicken Scaparelli
Serves four:

3 lbs. of cut up, bone-in chicken 1/4 cup onion diced fine
1/2 lb. Italian sausage links (sweet or hot) 1/4 cup celery diced fine
cut in 1/2 circles 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
Salt and pepper to taste 15 cured black olives
1/3 cup olive oil 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
1/3 cup chicken broth 1 cup dry red wine

Family Secrets #018 - Originally Published 10/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 REZara - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - rezara@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Step One: Brown the chicken and sausage

If the chicken is soaked, drain and pat dry on paper towels. Put the olive oil in a large skillet and heat over
high heat. Brown the chicken well, salt and pepper to taste and remove the chicken when browned and put
aside. Repeat the process, browning the cut up sausage pieces. Remove the sausage.

Step Two: Deglaze pan and precook chicken and sausage

Add the onions, celery, garlic, rosemary


and olives and return to the heat for 1
minute. Turn heat to high and add
chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Add
the browned chicken and sausage and
cook uncovered until the liquid in the
pan is reduced by half.

Step Three: Braise the chicken and


sausage and create the sauce

Add the red wine, cover pan with tight


fitting lid and reduce the temperature to
low. Braise for 45 minutes over low
heat, stirring occasionally.

Step Four: Finish the sauce

Remove chicken, sausage and olives


from pan and place on a warm platter. Return pan to high heat and reduce sauce by 1/2. Remove rosemary
sprigs. Serve chicken, sausage and olives with a generous portion of the pan sauce.

If you prefer your sauce thicker, you may whisk in a couple of pats of floured butter while reducing. I personally
prefer the sauce a little on the thin side, to dunk my homemade bread in while enjoying the Scaparelli.

Generally in our home this dish was served without the benefit of side dishes other than a salad. However, a
portion of polenta with a spoonful of pan sauce would be a very nice addition to the plate if you wanted to add a
starch.

Are there any hunters in your house? The above technique works very well with small game. My father would
come home from a days hunt with three or four rabbits and prepare this dish the following day. He omitted the
sausage from the recipe when using game, but it will work well either way. Domestic rabbit that can be purchased
in supermarkets does not work in this recipe. They are simply too lean and dry out too quickly.

The technique and recipe works extremely well with squab, if you are fortunate enough to find them. I can
remember a young man who raised pigeons in a roof top coop next to the old Majestic Theater in Ellwood City,
Pennsylvania, where I grew up. In the spring of the year dad used to purchase a basket of young squab, and he
and I would butcher them and have them for dinner the following day. It was quite a chore, but well worth the
effort. If you ever have occasion to get a dozen or so of these young birds, it will be a real treat for your family and
friends. Remember, the bird has to be young enough to have never flown. Once flying, it is a pigeon and not
acceptable for this delicacy .

Altitude Adjustment: None required.

Family Secrets #018 - Originally Published 10/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 REZara - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - rezara@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Chicken Piccata
By Ray Zara, La Lama Mountain Ovens, 575-586-2286, rezara@parshift.com

_______________________________________

Chicken piccata did not rank high on the list of favorite dishes in our home during my early years.
Although chicken was very much a staple in our diet, our family opted for a more complete use of the
bird. For example, if chicken were to be considered for dinner it would be cut up, bone-in, and roasted or
braised, and you would have the neck and back available for a pot of soup. To do a chicken dish that
called just for chicken breasts was not an option.

Chicken piccata is sauted chicken breasts in a lemon butter sauce. I think that statement is pretty
straightforward. However, with the advent of plastic lemon juice and powdered, instant sauces, this
classic dish has been turned into something other than a classic. I no longer order the dish when out to
dinner unless I know for sure that it is the real thing. To add insult to injury, I have seen white wine and
even mushrooms in sauces called piccata, done under the premise of being trendy and adventuresome. I
call it amateurish and disrespectful.

This is the first recipe we are publishing that falls into the category of saut. To successfully accomplish
this technique, some thought has to be give to the small amount of fat that must be present in the saut
pan to begin the process. Most folks in a home kitchen will use olive oil or whole butter. What is really
required is a fat that will resist scorching under high heat. In my estimation there is none better than
clarified butter. Clarified or drawn butter is the essence of pure butter, simple to make, has an almost
unlimited shelf life, and by the nature of its properties will outperform most other fats in the saut pan. I
believe that every serious home cook should keep a small supply of this ingredient on hand. For the
chicken piccata recipe and future saut recipes to come, I will outline the process to change whole butter
into clarified or drawn butter.

_____________________________

Clarified Butter

Place one pound of whole butter in a small, open topped double-boiler. Place the double boiler on the
absolute lowest temperature that you can maintain for about eight hours. You can accomplish the task in
the oven overnight if your oven is gas and has a high pilot heat. The butter is ready to draw when the
salt solids floating on the top become firm and you can see the milk solids firmly on the bottom. Use a
tablespoon to very gently gather and discard all of the floating solids. Without shaking the top part of the
double boiler, very slowly pour off the butter into a bowl until you have drained off all that you can without
the milk solids spilling over. One pound of whole butter should yield about 10 ounces of clarified butter.
Clarified butter has many uses in the kitchen. Besides its outstanding performance in the saut pan, it
has no equal in dunking steamed clams, chunks of freshly boiled or steamed lobster, or a firm fish like
monk fish. It also does a great job at breakfast for frying eggs or preparing a nice omelet.

If youre going to call it piccata, capers are one of the few permissible options. I prefer mine without, but
their addition is a matter of personal preference. If you decide to use capers in the dish you will want to
pay particular attention when adjusting the pan sauce for salt.

Family Secrets #019 - Originally Published 10/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 REZara - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - rezara@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Chicken Piccata

Total Ingredients:

2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 halves)


1 cup all purpose flour for dredging
1/4 cup clarified butter
1 fresh lemon
2 small garlic cloves, mashed
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tbls. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbls. whole butter
salt to taste
2 Tbls. capers (optional)

Step One: Prepare chicken breasts

Remove the tenders from the breasts if they are present, the long finger-like strips. Trim all fat and
sinews and remove the thin membrane covering the breasts. Butterfly the breasts starting from the
plump lobe side. Press firmly with the palm of your hand to achieve uniform thickness. Do not pound
with mallet.

Step Two: Saut chicken breasts

Place a 10, heavy bottomed saut pan on high heat and add enough of the clarified butter to coat
the bottom. When fat is hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle, immediately dredge the chicken
breasts in the flour plate, shake of excess and place in the pan. Do not dredge in advance or the flour
will get pasty. Shake pan frequently to avoid sticking and continue until bottoms are golden brown.
Turn breasts in the pan and reduce heat to medium. Cut ends from the lemon and make four thin
slices (about 1/2 of the lemon), place sliced lemon in pan and squeeze the juice from the remaining
half into the pan. Add mashed garlic and immediately deglaze the pan by pouring at least 1/2 inch of
chicken broth in it. Add parsley, the tablespoon of whole butter, and capers if you are using them.

Step Three: The finish

Continue cooking until chicken is done. If all is perfect, the pan sauce will form right when the chicken
is finished. If the pan sauce has not yet come together, remove chicken from saut pan and place on
warm plates, turn heat to high and quickly reduce pan sauce to the proper consistency. Spoon a
generous amount of sauce over the breasts in the plate and top each breast piece with one of the
cooked lemon slices

Some additional tips on this technique. Never place a saut item in a cold pan as it will absorb fat and
become greasy. When a recipe calls for pounded thin chicken breasts, use the butterfly method instead.
It retains the delicate consistency of the chicken breast. Using the mallet to pound chicken breasts very
thin has its place in certain instances such as a roulade, but for straight saut, butterflying is the way to
go. Always use fresh ingredients in your saut, plastic lemon, dried garlic, and parsley flakes just do not
work. For a true piccata sauce never add white wine in the saut pan with the fresh lemon. A white wine
butter sauce is a sauce unto its own.

This technique works extremely well using thin medallions of veal to create a wonderful veal piccata.

Altitude Adjustment: None required.

Family Secrets #019 - Originally Published 10/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 REZara - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - rezara@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

Perfect Roast Chicken


By CeCe Dove, La Lama Mountain Ovens, 575-586-2286, ccdove@parshift.com

_______________________________________

We've lived in big cities, small towns, suburban tracts, and


now in a farmhouse on a mountain. It really doesn't seem to
matter where we are when the first frosty autumn days arrive
because the same food memory always surfaces in my
brain. I remember shivering with cold, walking into a warm
kitchen and the aromas that permeated the house. The
smells of chicken roasting, with scents of lemon and
rosemary, will forever be part of my emotional makeup. They
simply make me feel good. They speak of autumn evenings,
family dinners, good conversation, a warm and safe haven
from the cold.

Our mother was oblivious to the beautiful memories she was


building for her children. She only knew that she had a family
of four very hungry children and a weary husband to feed.
Her mission was to feed them well and to do it economically.
Fortunately for all of us, chicken remains one of the great
ways to do that even today. You won't find a better dollar
value in the meat counter than a whole chicken. And a
perfectly roasted, golden brown, crispy skinned bird served
with perfect mashed potatoes and gravy and green salad is a
dinner to build a memory. Grandma Anna Buzzelli nee Casacchia (1873-1917)
Pictures circa 1898
Grandpa Nicola Buzzelli (1873-1914)
People have been roasting chickens forever. My mother
learned her mother's method and I've learned my mother's
way. However, over the years there have been numerous
methods put forth as the right way to roast a chicken. They
include covered versus uncovered, basting or not, adding
liquid or not, turning the bird or not. Each year seems to
bring yet another "perfect method". After roasting hundreds
of birds I have found that the simplest way possible results in
the best bird ever. Once it is in the oven, the most important
thing you do is to leave it undisturbed. No basting, turning, or
even peeking allowed. Now the cook has ample time to finish
the menu in a relaxed manner, which makes this meal even
more attractive. You could further simplify the cooking
process by serving roasted potatoes instead of mashed.
They could be done in the same oven as the chicken, putting
them in about one hour before the chicken is done.

Soaking the chicken is an optional step. I prefer to do this


because I believe it results in a juicier, more tender bird. If
you choose to include this step, dissolve one teaspoon salt
per quart of ice cold water in a non-reactive bowl or pot large
enough to hold the chicken comfortably. Immerse the
chicken from one hour up to 12 hours. Drain well, pat dry inside and out, and continue with the recipe.

Family Secrets #020 - Originally Published 11/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 CeCe Dove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - ccdove@parshift.com
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The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-
Family Secrets American family, with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

_____________________________

Perfect Roast Chicken

Serves four

1 whole chicken, approximately 4 lbs.


1 lemon
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary*
olive oil
salt and pepper

Tuck wings under back. Pull out any excess fat from the body cavity. Freeze the neck bone, heart, and
gizzard for stock. Soak the chicken if you wish or rinse under cold water and pat dry inside and out.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Wash the lemon and dry. Poke it with a fork to break the skin about
10 times. Wash the herbs and dry. Place lemon and herbs in body
cavity. Rub the entire outside of the bird with a small amount of olive
oil, salt and pepper it generously inside and out. Tie the legs together
with kitchen twine and place in a roasting pan with a rack. Place in
oven, uncovered, and roast undisturbed for one and one-half hours.
Drain the liquid from the cavity into the bottom of the roast pan and
continue roasting until thoroughly cooked, approximately an
additional 15-20 minutes. Test for doneness by making a cut between
the thigh and body and pressing lightly. The juice should run clear,
not pink tinged.

Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before carving.

*If you are not fond of rosemary you may substitute any number of
fresh herbs such as sage or tarragon. Whatever you use will permeate the chicken meat along with the
lemon.

Altitude Adjustment: None required.

Family Secrets #020 - Originally Published 11/98 by La Lama Mountain Ovens


1998 CeCe Dove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Author's Permission - ccdove@parshift.com
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, 575-586-2286, www.parshift.com/ovens/