Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Recipe: Put Down the Gun, Take the Stromboli

Ciao, people! I've been missing the blog so much the past few weeks, I've decided to re-engage. It started with an invitation to a Superbowl party a couple of weeks back. Half of the couple that hosted is a chef of the I-helped-Charlie-Trotter-become-Charlie-Trotter caliber, so it's not like you just pick up some funky  guac at the Jewel on the way over and ask where the serving bowls are when you show up in their gleaming all-chef-grade kitchen. This called for focus.

After cruising through about 40 predictable appetizer recipes on Epicurious, I landed on a familiar name: Stromboli. Hmmm...stromoboli, stromboli ... why do I know this? Naturally I Googled. Two things came up: 1) An unusually active volcanic island off the coast of Sicily and 2) a lot of cheap restaurants, mostly in Florida and NYC that specialize in an American invention that's basically a chubby pizza dough breadstick filled with cured meats and cheese. While I didn't recall ever having one, I sensed this had  real Superbowl potential.

This is the kind of versatile food I love. They're great hot from the oven, but  leave them in the fridge for a day or two and they just get better and better, even cold. And they work well as a meal or a heavy appetizer for a crowd. I bought the dough at the Whole Foods pizza counter (Pizza guy: Three pounds? Seriously? We sell it by the ball. Me: How much does a ball weigh? Guy: A pound and a half. Me: Ok then. So. That's two dough balls. Guy: Continues to eye me suspiciously.)

I tweaked the Epicurious recipe to use prosciutto more than salami, to cut down on the fat and grease factor.

1 lb pizza dough, thawed
1/4 grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 oz thinly sliced Genoa salami
3 oz prosciutto
3 oz sliced provolone or shredded mozzarella cheese (tried both, tough to tell the difference really)
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Quarter dough. Roll out 1 piece into a rectangular-ish shape on a floured surface and sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon parmesan and black pepper to taste. Arrange two slices of prosciutto, one slice salami, and a quarter of the cheese in an even layer over dough. Roll up dough around it (if you think it looks obscene now, wait until it swells up in the oven, girl), then tuck ends under and pinch edges to seal. Ecco la! Major bread phallus situation in your oven.

Make 3 more rolls in same manner and arrange 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush lightly with egg and cut 3 (1/2-inch) steam vents in each roll. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

If you're serving it as an app, like moi, just wrap those little darlings up and trot them over to the party site. I cut them there on an angle and served them with a bowl of solidly awesome marinara that was about $7 a jar at Whole Foods, but so worth it. Some peeps dipped them in the sauce, others skipped it.

Huge hit, with the friends, our nanny, my two year old son who threw a tantrum when we ran out...

Funny aside: The second time I Googled stromboli, I hit the etymology jackpot. Apparently the word is an Italianized version of a Greek term that means "large, swelling form"...Volcanic action, indeed. And then, of course - how could I have missed it! -  there was Stromboli the Disney character villain in Pinocchio. A smoking hothead with a giant, round belly.

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