Show 127, June 20, 2015: Steve Schirripa, Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties. Continues…

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Uncle Steve's Marinara Sauce and a bottle of Fat Tire BeerItalian-American character actor Steve Schrripa is best known for his role as Bobby Baccalieri on HBO’s “The Sopranos.” He’s also a serious home cook. Taking his mother’s recipe for pasta sauce he created a collection of popular sauces including Marinara, Tomato Basil and Arrabiata in the Steve Schirripa’s Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties line. The pasta sauces (cooked in small batches) are each hand-crafted with organic whole, imported Italian peeled tomatoes, fresh onions, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, sea salt and spices.

Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties is about a year-old. The pasta sauces are already in some 2,000 retail stores across the USA with more outlets being added every week.

Schirripa is also the author of The New York Times bestseller, A Goomba’s Guide to Life. This humorous book includes chapters on growing up in Brooklyn, great Goomba’s in History, Goomba recipes and Goomba’s Do’s and Don’ts.

Steve had a popular TV series in 2007, “Steve Schirripa’s Hungry.” In the episodes Steve visits New York City restaurants and homes of various guests including an Italian grandmother’s for cooking lessons from the pros. “What’s round and very popular? If you’re talking about me you’re only partially right. I’m talking about the meatball. I’m Steve Schirripa and I’m hungry,” proclaims Schirripa at the start of one episode dedicated to the art of the Italian meatball.

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Three-Pepper Sausage Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton from Randon Houseby Sam Sifton

Here is a recipe I adapted from the cooking of Kurt Gardner, a New York theater man of great culinary passions who has been contributing the dish to our home for years, usually in proportions large enough to feed boroughs. Rare is the month where there is not a frozen bag of this stuff in our freezer, ready to be deployed.

2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
11⁄2 pounds andouille sausage, or fresh chorizo or hot Italian sausage
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
2 red or orange bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
2 poblano or Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced
2 serrano or jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups chicken stock (if using store- bought, use low sodium variety)
1 pan cornbread, cut into cubes (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil in large fl at- bottomed sauté pan over medium- high heat. Add sausage and sauté until browned, approximately 10 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.

3. Add onion to the pan and reduce heat to medium, then sauté until onion begins to turn clear and soften, approximately 5 minutes. Add celery and peppers and continue cooking until peppers begin to soften, approximately 10 minutes.

4. Pour vegetable mixture into bowl with sausage, add chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to taste, and toss to mix.

5. Return pan to heat and deglaze with a splash of chicken stock, then scrape contents into bowl with sausage and vegetable mixture.

6. Pour mixture into a large roasting pan and add cubed cornbread, mixing by hand. Add chicken stock to moisten, cover with aluminum foil, and place in oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it is soft and the flavors well incorporated. If you desire a crunchy top, remove foil for fi nal 10 minutes of cooking.

(Dressing can be made ahead of time and reheated when needed. If dry upon reheating, add additional chicken stock.)

Excerpted from Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton. Copyright ©2012 by Sam Sifton. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Roasted Cauliflower with Anchovy Bread Crumbs

Thanksgiving How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton from Randon Houseby Sam Sifton

It is important to note that this dish does not have an anchovy flavor. Indeed, there is no reason ever to tell anyone who eats this dish that there are anchovies in it. The taste is merely salty and rich— and reflects beautifully off the sweet, creamy taste of the cauliflower beneath its slightly crunchy bread crumb topping.

2 heads cauliflower
8 to 10 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
Zest of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the anchovy bread crumbs
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Break cauliflower into florets and toss in a bowl with sage, lemon zest, sugar, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread out on a large baking sheet. Place in oven and cook until tender and golden, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan set over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add the anchovies, garlic, shallot, and bread crumbs. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden.

3. In a large bowl, toss together cauliflower and bread crumbs and serve on a warmed platter.

Excerpted from Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton. Copyright ©2012 by Sam Sifton. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.