Italian Thanksgiving: Serve up meatballs, pork gravy, more

Not everyone celebrates with turkey and stuffing: Some families stay true to their ethnic roots on Thanksgiving. Here, chef Steve Martorano of Martorano Cafe makes an Italian-inspired Thanksgiving feast with meatballs, pork gravy, and butter cookies.

Meatballs with a side salad
Servings:

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 pound veal
    • 1 pound beef
    • 1 pound pork
    • 2 large eggs
    • Black pepper and kosher salt, to taste
    • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
    • 2 cups finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • 2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
    • 1 cup Italian-style Progresso breadcrumbs
    • 1 loaf of day-old Italian bread
    • 2 cups of warm water
    • Vegetable oil

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Mix the ground meat together in a bowl.2. Crack two large eggs into another bowl and whisk them together. Pour the eggs into the meat mixture.3. Add the pepper, salt, garlic powder, parsley, cheese and bread crumbs.4. Get a loaf of day-old Italian bread and break it into small pieces. Soak the bread in warm water until it's soft, and then squeeze all the water out. Add the bread to the meat mixture and mix everything together.5. Roll the meat into 4 ounce balls, or whatever size you like. One of my grandmothers made hers big, the other one made hers small.6. Fill a deep pan half-way with vegetable oil and make sure the oil is hot before adding the meatballs. To test the oil, take a small piece of meat from the meatball and throw it in the oil. If the meat begins to fry, it's ready to go.7. Working in batches, brown the meatballs for three minutes on one side and then three minutes on the other side. Remove and serve with a salad of Romaine, cucumber, red onion, cherry tomatoes, imported Italian wine vinegar, EVOO and ricotta.

Sunday pork gravy

Ingredients

    • 5 pounds pork butt, cut into half-inch pieces
    • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
    • 1 piece of fat back, cut into quarter-inch pieces
    • 6 pigs
    • 3 pieces of pork skin
    • 15 cloves fresh garlic
    • 8 to 10 cans San Marzano tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Fresh basil, kosher salt and crushed black pepper to taste

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Add a quarter cup of extra-virgin olive oil to a pot or Dutch oven. Tip: If you get your pan extremely hot and then add the cold oil, your food will never stick. 2. When the oil is hot (not smoking) add the pork butt pieces and let them begin to brown. Season them with kosher salt, crushed black pepper and granulated garlic. Brown on all sides, which takes about 10 minutes. 3. Remove the pork butt and repeat the same steps with the sausage and pigs' feet. Add the pork skin. 4. After the pork skin has browned, remove it from the pan, then add the fat back pieces to the pan and brown them as well. Add 15 cloves of smashed garlic. Let the garlic brown. 5. Put the tomatoes in a clean bowl and crush by hand. Then add the tomatoes to the fat back and garlic and bring the sauce to a rapid boil. Season with kosher salt and crushed black pepper and lower the heat to a slow simmer. 6. Add all of the cooked meat and simmer for about 2 hours (not all day). Serve over rigatoni.

Butter cookie

Ingredients

    • 1/2 pound of butter
    • 2 1/2 cups of flour
    • 1 cup of sugar
    • 1 tsp. of vanilla
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 egg

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla, flour and baking powder. Cover dough and chill for at least an hour2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press dough out onto ungreased, chilled cookie sheets. Use your favorite molds to cut out the cookies. 3. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies are a light golden color. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks before serving.

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