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An Italian BBQ feast

Marion, John, Rosanna, Anthony and Elaina from the Manhattan restaurant Fresco, share some of their recipes for outdoor summer grilling.
/ Source: TODAY

What makes an Italian barbecue a bit different than just a regular barbecue? Well, the Scottos have added Italian herbs, Italian cheeses, and Italian breads to spice it up. Marion, John, Rosanna, Anthony and Elaina from the wonderful Manhattan restaurant Fresco have the recipes. Check them out here:

SICILIAN POTATO SALAD (8-10 PORTIONS)

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 pounds small Yukon gold potato or small bliss potatoes

Dressing

7 ounces extra virgin olive oil

3 ounces red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup flat leaf parsley chopped

4 tablespoons chopped capers

1/2 cup pitted mixed chopped olives

1 tablespoon chopped anchovies

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon hot chili pepper flakes

2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 tablespoon dry oregano

DIRECTIONS

Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water until just cooked through. While potatoes are cooking, mix the dressing ingredients. Drain the potatoes and let air dry in strainer to remove any excess moisture. Leave potatoes unpeeled while still warm. Cut potatoes in half and place in large bowl.

Whip dressing to combine, and pour over potatoes, let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooling so flavors have a chance to be absorbed by potatoes, serve as is at room temperature or, refrigerate until ready to serve.

ITALIAN DRY RUB BBQ RIBS (SERVES 6 TO 8)

INGREDIENTS

Ribs

6 slabs Pork Baby Back Spare Ribs about 1 3/4 pounds each

Dry rub mix

2 tablespoons ground fennel seed

3 tablespoons sweet paprika

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dry rosemary

1 tablespoon dry thyme

1 tablespoon dry oregano

3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 4 fresh lemons

Juice of 2 oranges

DIRECTIONS

Mix all “Dry” ingredients together with your hands. Set aside half of rub ingredients to be mixed with olive oil and citrus juice.

The night before serving the ribs, sprinkle dry rub ingredients on both sides, tightly cover and refrigerate overnight.

Mix other half of dry rub with olive oil and citrus juice and set aside for basting; use while ribs are on the grill.

Preheat grill on lowest setting. Ribs will cook slowly for 1½ hours, so plan serving time with that in mind. Baste ribs and turn over every 30 minutes. If need be, turn grill to medium heat if ribs are not cooking fast enough. Cook ribs until bones can easily be pulled away from meat. Baste with remaining dry rub marinade if desired before serving.

PANZANELLA SKEWERS WITH MOZZARELLA, TOMATO AND FOCCACIA BREAD

(serves 6)

INGREDIENTS

1 pound fresh mozzarella cut into ½-inch thick slices

1 cup fresh whole basil leaves

4 vine ripe tomatoes or vine ripe cherry tomatoes

1 loaf of foccacia bread

12 metal skewers

DIRECTIONS

Using a sharp knife, cut foccacia bread into rectangles approximately 2 x 2¾ x ¾-inch. There will be 3 rectangles per skewer. Cut cheese into approximately ½-inch thick slices approximately the same size. Add cut tomato slices approximately »-inch thick slices then cut directly in half again.

To assemble skewers, stack bread, a slice of cheese, basil leaf and tomato slice, another piece of bread, another piece of cheese, basil, tomato and bread; repeat once more. You will have 3 slices of bread and 2 pieces of cheese with basil and tomato in between. Push two metal skewers (approximately 6 inches long) through both sides of bread. Stack one on one side and one on the other, so stack is securely held together.

Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Brush and clean grill grid with a cloth and lightly oil grid so that skewers will get a good sear, this will allow bread and mozzarella to brown and melt at same time. Grill approximately 1½ to 2 minutes per side until foccacia is lightly brown and cheese is melty.

Remove from grill, place on platter and remove metal skewers. Drizzle with excellent quality extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

ITALIAN GRILLED BURGER (SERVES 6-8)

Note on burgers

What makes a great hamburger? Most important is quality of meat. You want to purchase a flavorful cut, like sirloin, chuck or round. The meat should be ground at least twice and it shouldn’t be too lean. 20% fat is ideal.

It’s tempting to add more seasoning than the recipe calls for but remember less is more because you still want to taste the burger meat so season lightly, your garnishes for burger will give all the extra flavor you need.

When handling meat, make as few pats with your hands to form it as possible. Trying to make them perfectly round and smooth just robs them of flavor and texture. Lightly wet your hands with cold water when forming patties does the trick. Forming size roughly should be 4-5 inches across by 1 inch thick, even thickness and size will allow for uniform cooking time.

When ready to cook, highest setting on grill. Brush, clean and rub grill grate with oiled towel before starting; this will allow a good “sear” and no sticky to occur.

Brush burger with a tiny bit of olive oil and place on hottest part of grill. Grill until nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Brush other side lightly with olive oil, turn with spatula and continue grilling until nicely browned, or cook to taste, about 4 minutes for medium.

After you have flipped them and burgers are almost done on second side, top with gorgonzola cheese. Also at this time, split ciabatta bread or rolls and place on grill to be toasted. Place cover down on grill and cook burgers until cheese is melted. Keep an eye on buns so they do not burn, they should only take about 30 seconds or so.

Remove buns, place on platter, add burgers and melted cheese topping to each bun and top with crispy pancetta and serve.

For burgers

INGREDIENTS

2 3/4 pounds ground round, chuck or sirloin

1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley

1 small clove of fresh garlic crushed and finely chopped

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Dash of Tabasco

1 pinch of dry Greek oregano

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the topping

12 slices of Italian pancetta or good quality bacon of your choice

Note about Pancetta:

An Italian bacon that is cured with salt and spices but not smoked. Flavorful, slightly salty, pancetta comes in a sausage like roll. Ask your butcher to slice it for you a little thicker than normal bacon slices, then cook crispy as you would for normal bacon.

2 cups or 8-12 ounces good quality mild gorgonzola cheese cut into » inch thick slices or crumble. A good substitution for gorgonzola is a mild blue cheese.

6-8 Ciabatta bread rolls or roll of your choice

CHOCOLATE FONDUE

INGREDIENTS

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, brandy or rum (optional)

Assorted fruit or marshmallows

DIRECTIONS

Gently melt chocolate over hot water in a double boiler or heat in microwave on medium power for 2-4 minutes; blend until smooth. Whisk in cream. Stir in liqueur, if desired. Transfer to serving dish or fondue pot. Serve warm with fresh fruit.