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Fatto a mano

Scamorza Secca

Fatto a mano, or, made by hand. This is something we pride ourselves in keeping alive. We make much of our specialties the slow, old way. One of these handmade products to which I hold very dearly is Scamorza. My father has made this by hand since as long as I could remember and it was very important that I learn myself. Many stores sell Scamorza, very few make their own. A lot of Italian delis and pork stores buy a cheap, mass produced replica of this delicious cheese usually made in Wisconsin, not even Italy! In case you never had it, try it and you will probably love it.

Scamorza is best described as a cheese somewhere between a drier Mozzarella and a fresher Caciocavallo. If it is new to you, Caciocavallo is a cheese that ranges in age from a younger 3 to 6 month form, or a drier, able to be grated, 1 year variety. We have 3 types in our store, one is a 4 to 6 month Sicilian Caciocavallo that is very similar to a provolone but with a smoother and more friendlier texture and taste. Also of this age, we sell a type from Naples which is similar but even sharper (also the only one that is made commercially in the shape similar to Scamorza), and finally, the older form we carry is a D.O.P cheese from Ragusa, Sicily, it is drier and sharper, enjoyable as a table cheese and phenomenal grated on top of many different pasta dishes. All different types are tied with rope just as they always have been and exactly why they got their name “Cheese on Horseback” since usually two forms were strung together and hung like saddles do.

Back to the subject at hand. Scamorza is handmade in the same “pasta filata” method as fresh Mozzarella. This is a method described in English as “spun paste” or a “stretched or pulled curd”. Its name is somewhat grim as it derives from “scamozza” which means “beheaded” in Italian basically due to the shape and the way it was originally hung around its “neck” to dry.  We have a curd made for us which is drier and richer than Mozzarella curd which I heat and stretch carefully under extremely hot water and with much more salt. I have made many varieties over the years, but have settled to the simple 4 types: Plain, Black Peppercorn, Peperoncino, and Butter (this type is an entity all in its own and has many other names like “burrini” or “mantiche”). Sometimes I will form the Scamorza into a basket rather than in the “bell form” but mostly the original takes mainstage. Here are some pictures of me making our Scamorza:

The curd has been cut and needs to be heated.

Just the right amount of HOT water.

I measure the salt by eye and from experience.

After stretching, the shaping begins.

The final shape is made then immediately transfered to continuousely flowing ice cold water to stop the "cooking" process and help it keep shape.

Once cooled, a soak in a salt-water bath gives them even more flavor, and finally the Scamorza are netted and hung in our refrigerator to dry.

Scamorza can be enjoyed in many different ways and in every stage of its “life”. Fresh, or young,  it is very mild and great for eating on its own or with vegetables, bread, or olive oil (all 3 together is even better) but can also make any pizza or lasagna even better. Once it has created its trademark “skin” which is 100% edible, it can be grilled over an open flame or in a cast-iron pan. We have had MANY customers do this themselves. It is not easy to do but one of my favorite things in the world. The trick is that the grill or pan needs to be REALLY hot, in other words, if you think it is hot enough, wait 10 minutes more 🙂 or it will just melt everywhere, then cut it open, pair with Prosciutto or Coppa, drizzle on some good Extra Virgin and enjoy. But also, one can let theirs age either in the refrigerator or in their wine cellar to make it drier and sharper, after a few months you will have a nice sharp Caciocavallo cheese.

Open-flame grill is best, just make it hot and be quick.Best to grill when the cheese is cold, using the whole form like this is also easier.

You can slice it up and enjoy it just like this, and trust me, it is amazing.

If you want to cut it in slices first, this is how the slices look grilled on the inside of the cheese. Hungry yet?

I enjoy making this cheese a lot. It is a lot of work, but with an ever-pleasing final product. If you have been in our store you already know that cheese is one of the main focuses. And, to sell this cheese, you really SHOULD make it yourself if not only for tradition but also for quality.
Ci Vediamo!
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Easter Egg Winners!

Congratulations to the Jacobs family for winning the 2011 GIANT Easter Egg Raffle!
I am sure everyone is willing to help finish off some of that chocolate 🙂

Congratulations!

 

 Ci Vediamo!

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Special Easter Items

Each Holiday has specialty items that we import from Italy. For Easter we carry Milk and Dark Chocolate Easter Eggs (with prize included) and Colomba cakes.

 The Colomba are cakes similar to the Christmas season’s Panettone but in a shape resembling a dove, a well- recognized symbol of Easter. They are made with the very best ingredients: real butters and flavorings, no hydrogenated fats, Italian made candied fruits, dried raisins, fine Italian chocolate, etc. We sell a variety of Colomba from Classico to Gianduja Chocolate Cream (Even a chocolate variety in the shape of a lamb, Agnello in Italian). Along with Pastiera, these cakes are a very traditional Easter desert and a favorite on our tables this time of year. They can be eaten as is, topped with gelato or yogurt, or made into French toast. Like the Panettone, Colomba were made to last for a few months to a year as long as they are wrapped tightly in plastic or secured in a Ziploc- type bag.

Fiasconaro Classico from Sicily, Battistero Classico from Parma

Loison Classica & Cioccolato from Veneto, Galup Classica, Agnello(Lamb) & Gianduja from Torino

The very popular and very delicious Chocolate Easter Eggs are available in both Dark (Fondente) or Milk (Latte) Chocolate. They range in sizes from 3 ounces to 32 Ounces. The chocolate used to create these hollow chocolate masterpieces are made of the finest Italian ingredients.  It was always such a great gift to get when we were growing up. As we got older, the egg got bigger. But, even as an adult, I enjoy giving and receiving a Chocolate Egg or two on Easter. We are happy to tag the eggs of your desire with your name in order to reserve it, without having to hide it in your home (as a kid I loved searching for Holiday gifts, and I am sure your children feel the same way) and you can pick it up anytime before Easter Sunday.

Here are some Nutal 3 oz. Milk Chocolate.

 

Here are some Marinella and Nutal Dark Chocolate Eggs, 7 oz. and 10 oz.

 
3rd Annual Giant Dark Chocolate Easter Egg Raffle
 

This is the HUGE, 11 lb. Fine Dark Chocolate Easter Egg we are Raffling off this year!

That’s right! 11 pounds of delicious imported Italian Dark Chocolate. Raffle Tickets are only $1 each and there is no limit to how many you can buy. “Why would I want 11 pounds of chocolate?” you may ask yourself. Well, it is a great novelty to make your children smile like never before and a wonderfully delicious way to impress your guests (especially when you can send them each home with a “doggy bag” of this great chocolate). The Raffle comes to an end on the day before Easter. We randomly choose a customer to pick the winning ticket from a “hat” so it is all fair. And, sadly, none of us workers or our families can take part in any raffles here at A&S 🙁

Here I am with last year's winner, Madeline.

Make your Easter truly complete and keep these traditions going strong with both of these specialties. They may not fit into your diet plans, but holidays are always an exception. It  is always wonderful to look forward to these great confections every year for adults and their children alike!

Ci Vediamo!

 

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Real Fennel and Fennel Pollen

As I spoke briefly about in our last post, as in many before, good ingredients are a key to great food. We make our Fennel Sausage, Sausage Breads, Wild Boar Sausage, Porchetta, and Lamb Sausage with the best Fennel that one can find. Unlike many other eateries, we do not waste time with mass-produced, run of the mill Fennel seed, usually from India. The flavor difference between the two varieties is impeccable. The smooth, delicate, and fine flavor of the Fennel and Fennel Pollen we sell and use in our food is on a whole new level than what one can buy at your local supermarket. The seeds we import, which actually helped me fully enjoy the flavor it is synonymous with, are grown wildly in  the hills around Naples in Italy’s famous Campania region. The Pollen, also wild, which is growing in popularity in the United States, comes from the Culinary Mecca of Tuscany.

On your left is the Italian Fennel we use, the right is the average fennel most still insist on using.

Notice the size and color difference. It is impossible to confuse the two different seeds. The intense but well- rounded flavor of the Italian Fennel Seeds will change your feelings on the spice altogether. I grew up hating the taste of Fennel just like Licorice and Anise which are in the same spectrum of flavor. I used to pick out the seeds from anything containing Fennel. I remember passing up many a good meal if it had too much, if any at all, of the spice. But, as I got older, I learned the difference between the Fennel I had been experiencing and the real deal.

Now, another new obsession of mine lately is Fennel Pollen. An intense  but sweeter version of the flavor of the Fennel Plant, the Pollen has been an important ingredient to Tuscan cuisine for a long time. One of my favorite forms of Salumi is Finocchiona which sometimes combines the Seed and Pollen together creating an extremely succulent and flavorful salame and certainly gives it its name. You can use this spice to dust a roast, chop, or many other cuts of beef, pork, and lamb, or flavor sausage, beans, sauces, etc. I recently made some Wild Boar Sausage Burgers and Lamb Sausage where, for the first time, I added a hint of the Fennel Pollen. It added a delightfully subtle flavor  to the combination of the meat with great sharp Pecorino, Peperoncino (red pepper flakes), fresh parsley, cracked black pepper, and a little salt. I controlled myself with the spice as it has the tendency of taking over a whole dish and it came out exactly how I wanted it to. Also, I occasionally add some of this fabulous Pollen to my Porchetta. Normally I stick to garlic, Peperoncino, and fresh rosemary but, since we are always adding a wrinkle to recipes, it changed the whole identity to our very popular, very authentic Porchetta and will definitely be a revisited addition to this famous Italian version of Roasted Pork.

This picture was taken the last time I packed out some of the lovely Tuscan Fennel Pollen into 1 ounce portions.

We ONLY sell real Tuscan Fennel Pollen. It is an expensive item but the quality speaks for itself. Many years ago, Italian immigrants planted a lot of Fennel in California. The Pollen that the plants provide is good but, when the original is available, why sacrifice with second best. Do not be fooled by simply ground up Fennel being passed as the plant’s Pollen because it is in no way similar and you can tell immediately.

Whether you are making your own sausage, cooking a nice roast or sauce, or even pickling, use the right Fennel. We sell both the Seed and the Pollen. These exact products are used in our food and no other mediocre replacement is tolerated. Give them a chance and you as well will be hooked to the flavor explosion it brings to your palate.

Ci Vediamo!

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Fresh, Homemade Sausage

In such a health- minded day and age, the idea of eating sausage has seemingly become taboo. I cannot even count how many times I have heard “Oh, I don’t eat sausage, it is so bad for you”. Sometimes the sausage is not even brought up, but the idea of eating pork itself seems to scare some. In all reality, the pork we eat nowadays is much healthier, cleaner, and more efficiently raised and “processed” than ever before. After hearing this opinion of sausage numerous times, I am baffled to see how many people who still eat it, buy their sausage at a supermarket (of all places).

At A&S in Wyckoff, our sausage is as fresh and as natural as can be. We use Natural, American raised pork shoulders delivered to us multiple times a week. The shoulders, or “Boston butts” as they are deemed, are selected by our meat distributor according to my requirements. I like the freshest cuts of pork with the right amount of fat. After all, fat is good, as long as it is good fat and just enough of it.

Here is the process I go through a few times a week:

As soon as the shoulders arrive, I start to trim them. Discarding the excess fat, glands, nerves, and tendons, the trimmed meat is gone over with our eyes only to make sure it will be sufficient to be chopped, cased, and sold in our store.

This is a fresh pork shoulder, as it looks when we receive it.This is the same pork shoulder, broken down. The meat to your left is for the sausage, the piece to the right is for our popular Pork Braciole.

This is the same pork shoulder, broken down. The meat to your left is for the sausage, the piece to the right is for our popular Pork Braciole.

The shoulder is broken down, as seen above. The fat is discarded or saved for homemade lard while the meat is seperated. The majority of the cleaned meat is used for sausage. However, the nice large piece of meat found under the shoulder bone (on right side of secondpicture above), which has so much flavor, is saved to make our Pork Braciole. This meat has a lot of connective tissue so it requires long cooking times but the end result is delicious, a perfect cut of meat for braising with great San Marzano tomatoes (or fresh if you like). Next, we head for the chopper.

This is the shoulder after it is chopped in our commercial meat grinder. It is passed twice through our course blade till it is the right texture for our sausage.

Here is our preparation for our Hot Sausage. Salt, Sweet Pepper Powder and Hot Red Pepper Flakes from Calabria, and THAT'S IT!

This is our Cheese and Parsley Sausage. Salt, Pepper, Shredded Pecorino Romano (only genuine), and fresh chopped parsley.

Tomato Basil Sausage has San Marzano Plum Tomatoes, fresh hand- ripped Basil, Pecorino (genuine), salt, and pepper. Nothing else.

As you can see in these pictures, which I took today, this is as pure a product as you can find. The ingredients we add to the pork are the best possible; the Pecorino is genuine from Lazio, the fresh herbs are delivered daily, the tomatoes are from San Marzano region, and nothing is added to prolong color or freshness. I have grown to understand the necessity for nitrates and nitrites in the use of curing and drying meats but I do not, and never will, use any preservatives or nitrates/nitrites in my fresh sausage. This is important to me. Most of those sausages you see in the supermarket, whether it be a big- name manufacturer, or factory made by the supermarket in which it is sold, contain so many chemicals to prolong its freshness and taste. Okay, so the stuff will not kill you but I do not find it necessary in fresh sausage. As long as you know where the meat is coming from, where it has been, and how it is handled, then let your mind rest at ease. That ends the use of the first of two machines which we use for sausage making. Here is some more handiwork:

I mix all of the meat, by hand. This guarantees that the spices are spread perfectly throughout. I wash my hands often. No gloves are used, as they carry bacteria easily where hands can be thoroughly scrubbed and sanitized.

This is the Cheese and Parsley Sausage mix as you saw in the first series of photos as well as the previous one.

The meat is thoroughly mixed by hand. This is done for two reasons. 1. To ensure the spices, cheeses, and vegetables are perfectly dispersed. 2. I feel that mixing machines add an unnecessary heat to the fresh meat. Just like making dough or using a food processor, a mixing machine requires repetitive motion which naturally creates heat. Have you ever made pizza dough and felt how warm it is once it it out of the mixer? Well, imagine that with your pork instead. Many who manufacture large quantities of sausage use these machines in very cold rooms to reduce heat as much as possible. But, for a store like ours, there is no need for this. Next we use another machine, the last of the two we require:

This is our Hot Sausage being pumped into Natural Casing.Here is our Cheese and Parsley Sausage being pumped, also into Natural Casing.

Here is our Cheese and Parsley Sausage being pumped, also into Natural Casing.

The machine I use to pump the sausage into casing is a hand- crank operated machine. This is not a requirement of mine. I love hydraulic operated sausage pumpers, but I just do not have one yet. The one I use is pretty old and was passed to me by my father, which means a lot to me. This adds more work to the process but it is tolerable, for now at least. The casings we use are natural Sheep and Hog Casings. The Sheep Casing is used for skinnier sausage varieties, while the Hog Casing is used for the larger links. I promise, we are almost done, here is the last step:

The links of sausage are hand- tied with cotton twine.The freshly cased Sausage is then lightly gone over with a pricker, releasing any extra air.

The freshly cased Sausage is then lightly gone over with a pricker, releasing any extra air.

The sausage is tied into links with cotton twine, usually three links makes a pound. The wheels of sausage (picture not available right now,check back soon) like the Cheese and Parsley variety, is held together with wooden skewers. The use of a “sausage pricker” or pincher helps to release any air that may be left between the meat and the casing. This process helps to ensure the meat will properly breath and not spoil quickly.If you like the one I am using, it is made in Italy, and you can buy one from www.sausagedebauchery.com.

  That is the end of our story, the sausage is now ready to sell. I personally trim and chop all the meat, measure the spices, mix, and pump it all into casing. We all have chipped in with the sausage making. However, I do love to do it, since it is one of my favorite things to eat.

We separate ourselves from many other sausage producers in almost every step of the way. Our dry spices are as fresh as possible and the best in quality. We use dry Wild Fennel imported from Italy, great pepper products from Calabria, cheeses from the best producers, and the best pork and casings. This is very important. Quality counts in every facet of food production and sausage is something that our stores are well known for and, therefore, will continue to receive the most attention possible. Everyday, in our meat case, you will find these varieties: Sweet, Sweet with Wild Fennel, Hot, and Cheese and Parsley. But, we also make “specialty” varieties. Pork: Tomato Basil, Broccoli Rabe, Lucanica, etc. Chicken: Pepper and Onion, Broccoli Rabe. Also, we are very well known for our Lamb Sausage which is made in the style of Bari, and our Wild Boar Sausage.

Try these great creations soon. Please, do not buy sausage from a supermarket or any place that either does not make their own or does not make it fresh as often as possible. Forget the misconceptions of sausage being “bad for you”. Pork has become healthier than ever before and for thousands of years it has been made into some form of sausage from Bratwurst to Bologna to Sopressata. Check back soon because I will show you other forms of our sausage and also, next post will be short but sweet. You will get to see what our Fennel looks like in comparison to what everyone else uses.

Ci Vediamo!

 

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Our Cheeses

Everytime I go into a supermarket or some other Italian or European style gourmet store, I notice the sad departure from quality in certain products which we pride ourselves in. There has been such a boom in the market of imported goods and groceries lately. In a day where you can find so many diverse products more than ever before, the attention to quality and authenticity has taken a back seat to demand.

Formaggio- Cheese

Cheese is one of the greatest creations on this earth. From raw to pasteurized, creamy to crumbly, stretched to molded; there are many varieties of cheeses from all types of animals like sheep, cow, goat, bufalo, etc. Unfortunately, people are starting to forget the difference in quality of these dairy masterpieces. For instance, Parmesan is NOT Parmigiano Reggiano, not all Pecorino Romano is actually from Rome, and no cheese made in Wisconsin is ever a replacement for the real thing.

At A&S we sell some of the best cheeses that are available. Although we focus on Italian varieties, we also offer select cheeses from Ireland, England, Spain, Greece, France, Denmark, and the United States. One thing we love is the ability to carry these great items and show people, who may have forgotten, what the difference is between our cheese case, and the “grab and go” sections at most eateries. With the help of some of the best Importers in the tri- state area (as well as others throughout U.S.) we have the advantage of buying small amounts of these cheeses and always having something new to introduce. We buy cheese just about every week. I prefer small orders because any cheese sitting around for a time can lose its initial flavor. I would rather run out of an item then overstock and sell a sub-par piece of Formaggio.

Whole Forms

I always have and always will buy cheeses ONLY in whole form. If you see a perfectly portioned, cryo- wrapped slice or chunk of cheese, just put it down and walk away. These pre- cut embarrassments to the ancient art of cheesemaking can totally warp your enjoyment of any item, authentic or not. We get in all of our cheese in full form and cut everything fresh to order. This is definitely more costly to us as a retail store, but is the only way to do it. Pre- portioned cheeses are usually cut before full maturation (especially Parmigiano Reggiano since it crumbles so won derfully once a knife hits its grainy texture) and is also a great way preserve an item on the shelf without it spoiling or molding as quickly or at all (how old some of those fast food cheeses are is astonishing, which is usually good as long as it is meant to be naturally aged this way, not in wrap).

Once cut into, cheeses are said to begin “dying”. In a way this is true, which is why we do buy small quantities of our cheeses and why we cut fresh to order, to slow this dying process.

Our Pecorino Romano is from Locatelli brand. This is how we get it, in a huge wheel, and we personally break it down. Buy a chunk or we will grate it fresh to order.

This is the Pecorino after we cut it. Cheese wire and blade only, by hand.

Parmigiano Reggiano is the undisputed “King of Cheeses” from Italy’s Gastronomical wonderland, Emilia Romagna. Parmigiano is not the same as what is in most supermarkets, dubbed Parmesan usually. It is certainly not in those green cheese shakers in the same section, please, pretty please, do not buy those they are a disgrace to real Reggiano. We carry whole forms, usually around 85  pounds, of authentic Parmigiano Reggiano that have aged a minimum of two years. When they come in, they are split with wire and cut only into quarters to make it easier to store and sell. Our Reggiano’s rind proudly shows the date it was stamped by the inspector from the Consortium in the factory in which it is made. We will always grate some of it for you because it must be grated fresh to ensure its delicate flavors are at their best. And, if you would like us to save you the rind for flavoring soups and sauces at home, just ask. But, if you like to enjoy Parmigiano with fine Balsamic Vinegar, honey, Vincotto, Salumi, nuts, or fresh fruit, then you must get the real thing. The beautiful white grains throughout the cheese show its quality of age and gives it is title as a “Grana” cheese.

Notice the white grains scattered throughout, the D.O.P. brand and the date on the side.

 
 
 
 

For such a revered cheese. Even Auricchio has its ugly side, that is the pre- wrapped thin slices of it you see at the Supermarket. This is the real deal.

 

Here is the boys hanging a 110lb. Auricchio Provolone, we let it aged for additional 6 to 8 months when we recieve it at the 12 month age.

This is one of the only cheeses we precut but it is in large portions which we sell rather rapidly, and, as you see, is all done by hand.

 

 
 
 
 
 
Quality Counts
Many of the cheeses we carry are D.O.P. regulated. Our Toscano is the actual D.O.P. variety, Our Fontina is the real Fontina Valle D’ Aosta D.O.P. not Fontal which is a cheese in the style of Fontina and from same area of Italy. Fontal is a good cheese for what it is, but it surely is NOT Fontina, which many try to pass it as. Our case has some rare cheeses like: Sottocenere (cheese aged under ash), Caciotta Sotto il Fieno (aged under hay), Pecorino Tartufo (from San Gimignano, Tuscany), Caciocavallo Ragusano D.O.P (12 mth. old Caciocavallo from Sicily), Imbariagot (twist on ubriaco, Italian word for drunk, as it is aged in wine), Los Cameros (cow, sheep, and goat milk blend, aged in organic D.O.P. Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Rioja, Spain where the cheese is made), high quality Gorgonzola Dolce D.O.P. (from Piemonte, in either firmer or creamier varieties), Toma Piemontese D.O.P. (similar to Fontina, young cow’s milk cheese, mild but delicious and grassy), Picon (a Spanish blue made of cow, sheep, and goat’s milk, aged in grape leaves),etc, etc, etc.
Right now our cheese case contains over fifty varieties. Although D.O.P. cheeses are great and widely renowned, many cheeses we carry are not of this designation. We carry a lot of great cheeses from small family- operated farms who may not have the facility nor the extra money it costs to make and sell D.O.P. and I.G.P. rated products. This does not always mean a lesser quality, and at our store, it never does.
So, please, buy the right cheeses, the right way, and at the right places. Always check in for new introductions to our menu of Formaggio. And also, enjoy our homemade cheeses, which we put our heart into traditions that lay deep in our family history. But, that is another post all in its own… till then…
Ci Vediamo!
Please enjoy these great pictures of a few of our cheeses…
Just remember, we encourage sampling so never hesitate to ask to try ANY of our cheeses, we love to let you try something new each time you visit our store!

Sottocenere is aged for a minimum ninety days under ash. It is very crumbly and subtly robust with geat Pecorino flavors.

Caciotta Sotto il Fieno is aged under hay. A rare cheese, it is aged this way to retain the fresh sheep's milk flavor and also add hints of the countryside in which it derives.

Picon is a sharp but elegant variety of Blue Cheese from Spain. One of my favorite cheeses right now, check out its "stained glass" pattern to its mold. Phenomenal!

Fontina Valle D'Aosta D.O.P. Please buy this when you want Fontina, it is the only real one!

A recent cheese delivery: Piave Stravecchio D.O.P., Imbariagot, Sotto il Fieno, Primo Sale (pepato, peperoncino, bianco), Caciocavallo Ragusano D.O.P., Fontina Valle D'Aosta D.O.P., Gorgonzola Dolce D.O.P., Pecorino Toscano D.O.P.

Our Artisan Cheese Platters contain many of the cheeses pictured above. No cheap processed cheeses. There are never two platters alike as we hand select the cheeses for each customer.
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Osso Buco with Chris

This is the second post of this type. Like Brian, and many others, Chris likes to talk about food with me. I like to help him make his menu happen and as easy as possible. Now, Veal Osso Buco might seem difficult, but all you need is three things: Great Veal, Good Herbs and Vegetables, and some Time. Our Veal shanks for this popular dish are some of the best around. The majority of eateries sadly provide pre- cut, defrosted, low- quality shanks. I have seen them many times and always know when I am eating these insults to the delicate and delicious meat that a calf can supply. Our shanks arrive whole and are ONLY  milk- fed, American unfrozen cuts of veal. This requires a whole lot more work than most butchers these days like to do, but it is quality or nothing else. Here is what they look like raw, cut to expose the wonderful marrow:

Veal shanks of this quality have a light pinkish flesh that is soft like butter if cooked properly.

 We take pride in an ingredient like this because of its fine quality. There may be cheaper out there in the supermarkets but if you are going to cook such a great meal, why cut corners or sacrifice for price? Our Veal Cutlets and Chops are also milk- fed and are an equally lucious pink. The Veal we use to slice is only from the hip where it is a small area of delicious meat that is my favorite to sear or fry.

Before I continue rambling, here is the story…

Chris and his family like great food. Chris and I, personally, share similar enjoyments like good steaks, wine, and slow- cooked meats like braciole and of course, VEAL OSSO BUCO. A beautiful marriage of meat, herb, vegetable, wine, and heat. We cook shanks a few times a week in our store and are they are extremely popular. When Chris wants to make his own at home, he comes to us. After all, if done right, there is nothing better than a home-cooked meal. The hours of braising veal shanks envelops the whole house in aromas that cannot be described with words. It is like waking up on a Sunday morning and right away you smell mom’s pot of sauce bubbling away. How many of us can close our eyes and get whisked back to our youth in seconds with such  great aroma? I loved it and I know my future children will. This is not the first time Chris’ family has made this meal with my guidance and it will certainly not be the last.

We provided his family with most of the ingredients necessary for a delicious dinner:

Veal shanks- cut into portions perfectly for each member of the family.

Vegetables- celery, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, etc.

Herbs- bay leaf and fresh rosemary

Also, great D.O.P. San Marzano plum tomatoes

Chris added ingredients he already had at home like wine, flour, etc.

Contrary to popular belief, this is simple to make. I like to dredge my Veal Shanks in well- seasoned All Purpose Flour. Next, brown the shanks on all sides in a hot pan with butter and a little olive oil. When the shanks are a nice golden- brown, take them out, and de-glaze the pan with white wine. Dredging not only makes a light crust around the veal but helps flavor and thicken the sauce a bit. De-glazing the pan with white wine (I prefer a nice dry white wine with the veal, red, in my opinion, is too bold for this meat) helps pick up all the concentrated flavors in the pan that the veal, flour, butter, and oil provide. If you have the pleasure of a nice, thick- bottomed pot (best would be cast iron) or dutch oven, then you can just throw the rest of the ingredients right in with the all that juice and continue the cooking right in there. If you do not, just transfer everything to a deep baking pan.

Next, add all the vegetables. This simple version contains the “usual suspect” vegetables I named above. A little more wine is required, some stock (preferable veal but chicken stock can pass), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt, pepper, the herbs go in (some like to encase them in cheese cloth so they give flavor but are easily removed, I do not do this), the San Marzano tomatoes need a little squeeze before they join the party, and finally, back in go the shanks. Do not forget to include all that reduced wine with the scrapings from the browning of the veal. Putting a cover on top will help the cooking process along and will not let the top of all the vegetables and veal from burning if they poke out from the braising liquid. This is the last step. Yes, that’s right, that is all you have to do. Place your pot or pan in an oven preheated to 375degrees. The result will be a melt- in- your mouth piece of meat and flavors and aromas of a slow- cooked masterpiece.

In a few hours, your hard work will be rewarded with one of the best examples of “comfort food” that exists. There are many different ways to cook Osso Buco. Some add citrus, fresh fennel, etc. In Milan, Osso Buco is usually served with Milanese- style Risotto which contains Zafferano (Saffron). But, a nice bed of Fresh Papardelle pasta underneath is my favorite way to serve it (our homemade papardelle is the best around).

Here is Chris’ dinner, doesn’t it make you want to eat your monitor? 🙂

Some nice bread and a glass of wine never hurt with a meal like this.

 Try this dish yourself sometimes. I usually have those beautiful Veal Shanks in stock, but if you call, I will make sure I have them and will cut them fresh for you.

And, do not forget to eat the marrow, it is probably the best part. Do not be squeamish, trust me, it is a decadent treat like none other.

Thank you Chris for the photo, I am glad it went well and look forward to helping along with your next meal.

Ci Vediamo!

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Salumeria Biellese

At our store we like to find some of the best items around. Our Italian groceries like Olive Oils, Rices, Grains, Beans, Herbs, Vegetables, Pastas, Peppers, Coffees, etc., are some of the best available  and  all personally selected by us. We sell some Imported goods that are not available anywhere in our area. Many stores carry brands for their names alone, hoping to just sell in quantity while forgetting quality. To me, that is a sin. 

Discussing all of these things could take days, so I will focus this post on one line of items specifically.

Today I received another personal delivery from one of the owners of the well- known Salumeria Biellese, Paul. They are a family- owned business  making and selling fresh and cured meat products from Sausage to Prosciutto to Lardo. Since 1925, the Biellese company has used quality meats, fine spices, and old- world methods to create some of the finest American- made Salumi (Salumi is the Italian name for cured meats, I am not just spelling Salame wrong. After all, Salame is a form of Salumi). They use naturally raised Berkshire and Mangalitsa Pork. Although they are located meer blocks from Manhattan’s tourist traps like Madison Square Garden and Times Square, Biellese’s integrity has been kept strong even after almost 100 years in the business.

Our order today consisted of:

Porcini Salame: Medium in size, this is Salame made with Porcini Mushrooms and Barbera Wine. If you like the earthiness of dried Italian Porcinis, then this is an insanely tasty product for you.

Felino: This is a course ground Salame with old fashioned spices and wine. Originated in Emilia Romagna region.

Coppa: Hot or Sweet. This is one of my favorites, a whole- muscle product from neck/shoulder. The perfect ratio of fat to meat. I like it more than Prosciutto actually. I know, I know,  I could be tarred and feathered for saying that but it is true.

Speck: Lightly smoked part of leg, basically Prosciutto but smoky. This is an amazing alternative to the traditional Prosciutto that is so infamous in its flavor and history. An Austrian influence on the Northern Italian culture.

Finocchiona:  Sweet, course Salame made with wild fennel and fennel pollen. This is something I have grown to be obsessed with especially since I devoured massive amounts of it in Tuscany last October (its place of origin) and quite pleasantly surprising for someone who grew up not liking fennel at all.

Biellese Salami- Piemonte- style Salame that is mildly spiced. Great on a sandwich or Salumi platter.

All of these items are 100% Berkshire Pork. We also carry the well- loved Guanciale (jowl, kind of like Pancetta) from them which is also Berkshire and a true necessity to make a fine Roman sauce called Amatriciana. We will also be getting more of their Wild Boar Cacciatorini and Sopressata sometime next week.

But, one of my favorite things in the world, next to my Wife and my NJ Devils, is:

MANGALITSA LARDO!

It is what it sounds like, the lard, or backfat of the Mangalitsa Pig. It is an Austrian breed of hog that is growing in stardom every day in the Salumi community. Spiced with salt, rosemary, pink and green peppercorns, the Lardo is cured then dried till it is “melt in your mouth” delicious. Lardo can be used for cooking or just eating on top of a nice hot piece of brick oven bread. I know it is not the healthiest thing in the world (although Mangalitsa’s fat is rich in Omega 9s) but it is a decadent treat that you will only understand when you try it. I enjoyed many varieties in Italy, especially in the Tuscan towns and cities, and I feel that Biellese’s is quite good and holds up to the traditional flavors that have been captured for many centuries in Italy.

Lardo- this is a picture of their Berkshire Lardo, I will post a picture of the Mangalitsa variety we received today ASAP.

 Stop in soon and try these great meats. . They are all perfect to enjoy with some fine cheeses, breads, and wines. I have the cheese and bread here, unfortunately not the wine, but we never turn down a glass. 😉

CI VEDIAMO!

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Our Ingredients and Products

At A&S we do our best to make things as homemade and personal as possible.

Stocks

Eye Round Roast Beef over beautifully roasted vegetables, with homemade natural gravy.

We make our own stocks for soups, gravies, sauces, etc. These are all freshly made a few times a week from all fresh ingredients. Veal marrow bones and beef trimmings are spiced up with fresh and dried herbs and vegetables. They are then ready for hours of roasting then cooking down in liquid on the  stove creating a deliciously light yet fragrant and flavorful broth used in our Marsala sauce, gravy for our roasted meats,stews, lentil dishes and soups, osso bucco, short ribs, lamb shanks, etc.

Lemon- Herb Chicken- stock with white wine, garlic cloves, fresh and dry herbs, and Bell and Evan's chicken.

Bell and Evan’s whole chickens and their trimmings pair with herbs and vegetables to make our chicken soup likegrandma made, and our many sauces and dishes like Francese, Piccata, escarole and beans, roasted chicken dishes, etc, so delicious and also natural.

 

 

 

 

 

Tomato Sauces

Garlic, red onion, Calabrese chilis, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Being an Italian market, our tomato sauces are probably some of the most important creations in our store. Our tomato- based sauces are started with only fresh vegetables and herbs, good olive oil, and, of course, imported tomatoes from Italy’s prized San Marzano region.  For specialty sauces, the best in cured meats like Guanciale, Pancetta, and Prosciutto, homemade sausage, daily- delivered vegetables, and fine imported items like anchovies, Sicilian oregano, Calabrese peppers, capers from Salina, Gaeta olives, etc.

 Although California and New Jersey produce some great crops, the Volcanic soils in Campania, Italy help create the perfect plum tomato for any sauce of the variety.  Some different sauces require the little, sweet cherry tomatoes from Collina.

Since most have seen the San Marzano plum tomato before, here is the beautiful Pomodorini di Collina.

Our Marinara and Plum Tomato sauces use only olive oil, garlic, onion, parsley, basil, and the Italian pomodoro. And, that is it, no added butters, wines, sugars, preservatives, or anything that take away the starring role from the tomato and the integrity of the sauce. Our meat sauces contain ONLY the meat we butcher, either ground pork, beef, and veal or whole pieces of these meats cooked for hours till falling apart and melting in your mouth.

This is what is near to my heart and what I was taught to do. 

It is extremely common to see a large pot on our stove, bubbling away, and completely altering the aromas in our store and in the surrounding shopping center. If you’d like a taste of what is cooking, just ask, please! I promise you will never have a problem filling your stomach in our store, everything is up for samples, in fact, we promote it.

Our Tomato Sauces are available daily and our stocks are also up for sale to make great dishes at your home.

What else do we make or carry to go along with these sauces? That will have to wait for next entry! Check back soon or just come on in!

CI VEDIAMO!

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Brian’s Dinner

We take a lot of pride in the relationships we have with our customers; we call them our friends.

Well, one friend who has been with us since the beginning recently needed some inspiration for dinner. Brian had a piece of sea bass and some scallops at home and was looking for ideas for something a little different. Well, after talking about what kind of flavors his family enjoys, the ideas started rolling. We hit the shelves and started building a meal.

Brian's Dinner

Salted capers from Salina, dried Calabrese hot peppers, Italian tomatoes, and colossal cracked green olives from Sicily combined to create a delicious southern Italian marriage of flavors to accompany his fresh seafood.

A fresh Burrata from Puglia (picked up fresh from the airport), fresh baby Arugula and Radicchio, Parmigiano flatbreads and great D.O.P. Extra Virgin Olive Oil makes a refreshing side salad to balance the heat of the peppers and the salty Mediterranean flavors of the capers. Brian’s family all enjoyed their meal and we enjoyed the success of our influence and assistance.

Never hesitate to ask any of the guy’s behind the counter for a little advice to spark up some extra flavor to your dinner!

Here is a snippet of his email to us:
Dear Angelo:

I made your recipe tonight for sea bass and scallops with the Sicilian sauce and the salad. the family loved. so did I.
Picture attached.
Your friend,
Brian

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