Salata Od Hobotnice -Octopus Salad

This is a Croatian dish, specifically from the coastal region of Dalmatia. It starts with a simple dressing mix of:

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • S+P
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Olives and/or capers
  • Vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar)
  • Lemon Juice

It then gets mixed with cooked octopus (I used the frozen cooked squid tentacles and threw in some mussels as well), and also boiled golden potatoes cut into chunks.

  • Octopus or squid (cooked)
  • Golden potatoes
  • Mussels not standard but optional

Not traditional, but I also topped it with:

  • Pimiento

Banana peppers may added as well, and again; mussels are not the standard

Other common ingredients include:

  • Bay leaf
  • Onions

Battalion – San Antonio, Italian

I just got the food to-go as I heard the music choice was not the best, and when I picked it up, I confirmed that. The interior decor inside an old fire station was definitely contemporary, but in a good way. The main color scheme was red and black, and was very well designed.

I had to wait longer than the app “Toast” said, though they explained that 20 minutes was too short of a time to prepare a 3 course meal, which I totally understood with me working in the food industry. The offered me a soda or water while I waited which made it up in my mind, and was very considerate.

The food (again with no star ratings)

Ricotta Gnocchi Amatriciana (tomato, guanciale, red onion, chiles, pecorino) $12- the gnocchi was classic sized gnocchi though there could have been a little more guanciale. Overall, great taste, and for the price, I would recommend.

Berkshire Pork Saltimbocca (charred lemon polenta, prosciutto, sage, pork jus) $24- I didn’t see the charring on the polenta, though it was delicious and the star of the night. The sage leaf was left whole and definitely could have been more incorporated though I guess they were looking for more of a decorative item. The saltimbocca was flavored well, though overcooked. I never judge a dish by the way it was cooked due to that being an error by the cook, and not the chef. Too small of portion for me to reorder. Simple pork dishes should be less.

Tiramisu (marsala-mascarpone,coffee, cocoa) $10- there are only 3 things I am truly a snob about: gnocchi, risotto, and tiramisu. Tiramisu is my absolute favorite dish in the world, when prepared right. There was too much cocoa powder and left a chalky taste, and definitely not the melt in your mouth, heaven on earth type of feeling. If you have had delicious tiramisu, you know the only thing that can come close is Kentucky Bourbon Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce (forget about ice cream).

Overall, for the ambiance alone, I would recommend trying it once, though for the food, it is worthy of the prices mostly. I wouldn’t personally recommend this Italian restaurant for any foodies, though it is a neat experience.

Gnocchi

Gnocchi is a very simple potato pasta.

  • Potatoes – 2lbs, peeled
  • Flour 3/4-1 cup if baking potatoes, 1 1/2-1 3/4 if boiling potatoes
  • 1 egg
    Peel potatoes and slice into big chucks and boil gently until mashable, or bake on 350 until mushable.
    If you have a ricer, that is great; if not, mash your potatoes as finely as possible, then add the egg and some salt
    Add flour
    Knead until combined, but do not overmix, adding any flour as needed. As always, start with less and work your way up.
    Get a salted pot of water gently boiling
    Grab a small handful of dough while keeping the rest covered with a wet towel, and roll out the dough into 1″ cylinders. I use non-stick spray when rolling, but you can use flour.
    Use a pastry cutter to cut them into bite-sized pieces and roll smooth; it is optional to roll with a fork to create indentions, or you can even buy a gnocchi board for about $10.
    Boil for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Once they all float, I give it 20 seconds. I like mine al dente though you can cook it farther depending on preference. Scoop and drain them, and set on parchment paper.
    Sautée in butter or lard and use whatever sauce you choose

Arancini

More information about Arancini and possible variations is under recipe as always.

Classic Sicilian Arancini – Steps: Risotto, Meat Sauce, and Breading

Arancini is stuffed risotto, classically with a ragù sauce, then battered and deep or pan fried.

Risotto – make sure is it thick and the liquid is absorbed properly for shaping https://food-heritage-archives.com/2020/08/10/risotto/

Meat Sauce

  • Onion sautéed in oil
  • Ground Meat – your choice
  • Tomato Sauce and Paste
  • Peas
  • White or Red Wine
  1. Sautée onions in oil then brown the meat
  2. Deglaze with wine, then add peas, sauce, and paste to finish cooking meat
  3. You want the sauce to be the same consistency or thicker as the photo below as you will need to stuff the rice with this. If you think it is too thin, run the sauce through a sieve and add more tomato paste
  4. Put on a sheet pan to cool quicker

Breading – dip in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs of choice.

  1. Put your risotto into one hand, flatten, and then add a heap of sauce. Cup hand to help shape into a ball, adding more risotto if needed to fill gaps. The size of a small lemon is perfect.
  2. Bread the arancini then let set in fridge for a good 1/2 hour at least. They are great to make ahead of time and then fry when you’re ready.

Frying

  • You oil should be in the the range of 350F if deep frying, but pan fry like any other food, rotating it as needed

Serving – It goes great with tomato sauce and some arugula. You can top with crispy bacon and mozzarella or try multiple cheeses to find your favorite.

More About Arancini, and variations

Arancini has been around for at least 1,000 years, so there have been many variations throughout the years, a very classic Italian way is this Sicilian style. Although most arancini you find in recipes or restaurants is strictly cheese-based, it traditionally has meat, and cheese is optional.

Good variations to do will be to actually add cheeses inside, such as half a small marinated mozzarella ball, or fontina.

A good option for the meat is pancetta or pork jowl, or, chicharrones or cracklings.

Risotto

There are thousands of ways to prepare and use risotto, but I will go into detail at the under the recipe as always.

Risotto Bianco – the most basic risotto.

  • The proper rice – arborio, carnaroli, or packages that say “risotto rice”
  • Chicken Stock – the ratio is at least 2.5 or 3.5 of liquid to 1 of rice
  • Diced onion
  • Butter and parmesan
  • White Wine or dry vermouth is optional but is used often to deglaze

Steps

  1. Get your stock warm in a pot, and keep it at a gentle simmer
  2. The rest of the instructions will apply to a separate pan. A wide pan is best.
  3. Add onion and sautée in butter until softened
  4. Turn heat to med-high and toast the rice – cook until translucent without browning. If you see any browning of the rice, stop and go to next step, but it is not the worst for a couple brown grains
  5. Deglaze with wine, cook until almost fully evaporated
  6. I keep my heat 3-4/9 now. Add about 2 ladles of the stock for the first go around, then 1 ladle of stock at a time from there on. Do not add more until it is absorbed.
  7. Stir at least once a minute, going into the rice is cooked to al dente, 15-20 minutes. If it is not done after 20 minutes from adding the stock, the rice needs to be toasted more and/or the heat needs to be higher.
  8. **The classic Italian way is Al Dente, but I personally prefer cooked all the way through.
  9. Add butter and freshly grated parmesan.

More About Risotto

As I stated before, risotto possibilities are endless. Once you have this basic risotto down, you can branch out and do a milanese (which is just adding saffron) use beef stock, add mushrooms, top with pesto; really anything.

My favorite additions: sautée bell peppers or celery with the onions, add crushed tomatoes to stock, top with chicken and/or balsamic reduction.

About the rice: The reason risotto recipes call for certain types of rice is because of their starch content. The creaminess of the end product comes from the rice even before the added butter and parm.

A favorite thing of mine is to make the risotto bianco and then make arancini (fried rice balls) with the leftovers. A post for that will be ready by 08/13 with a link in this spot.

Interesting Fact: During the regime of Mussolini, the wheat and semolina imports to Italy were seen as damaging to self-sufficiency, and the solution was rice. It could be produced domestically, and although the campaign for rice was not fully successful, the many recipes for risotto and free rice given to the people made it more well-known.

Now risotto is a popular Italian dish, with the Croatians and others taking a liking to squid ink risotto among other variants.

Carbonara

More info on carbonara at bottom

The recipe to make it is quick and easy

  • 1lb spaghetti
  • 3/4 lb pork: pancetta, guanciale, or bacon, chopped into pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (parmasean and bacon have enough salt)
  • Greens (spinach or peas)
    Put pasta in boiling water if using fettuccine or wait until after bacon is cooked when cooking pasta that cooks in less than 5 minutes. (You don’t want your bacon pan too hot.)
    Cook bacon in your largest pan until it crisps up, then turn off and remove from heat. While this goes on, mix eggs, pepper parmesan in bowl.
    When pasta is at your liking (al dente or regular), removed a cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
    Add pasta to pan along with egg mixture, greens and pasta water. Start with a 1/2 cup of water and add more if needed.

Carbonara is a traditional Roman pasta dish. The type of pork to make it genuine is guanciale (cheek) or pancetta (pork belly). If you have trouble finding guanciale, look for pork jowl or just use bacon.

I use spinach in preference to the standard peas but both are fine options.