Travel with Cook’s Country and savour the homey comforts of Little Italy, an array of neighbourhoods throughout the nation where Italian immigrants set down roots, and from those roots produced some of the best eating you’ll find anywhere. To fill our Italian-American table, we tested, tasted, and adapted our way through countless takes on beloved fare to discover what makes each a knockout, from meaty lasagna to eggplant Parmesan.
Along the way, we scoured the country to uncover less common (but no less delicious) dishes like Chicago’s Chicken Scarpariello and Brooklyn’s Prosciutto Bread, even coaxing some heirloom recipes from the families behind their landmark restaurants.
Italian-American cooking sparks fierce passions. Cooks may never agree on whether the best style of pizza comes from New York, Detroit, or St. Louis (you’ll find recipes for all three kinds in these pages). But we hope you’ll all find a place on your table for our drop meatballs, which stay tender without falling apart, our ricotta gnocchi (finally, a foolproof method), and a make-ahead tiramisu that rivals any restaurant’s.
This is the food we never tire of—simple, hearty weeknight meals, baked pastas and roasts fit for Sunday dinner, and a baker’s assortment of rustic breads and sweets.
Grilled Sausage Subs with Bell Peppers and Onions
Why This Recipe Works
The influence of Italian American cuisine extends to the ballpark, where fans typically watch the national pastime while enjoying fennel-laced Italian sausages nestled in a bun with sautéed bell peppers and onions. This Italian American creation is perfectly matched with ice-cold beer and plenty of sunshine. To translate this sandwich for the backyard grill, we discovered that we needed to stagger the cooking process. We cooked the sausages gently on the cooler side of the grill until they were nearly done and then moved them to the hotter side to develop nice grill marks and a slight char. For the vegetables, we relied on the microwave to jump-start their cooking. We then transferred them to a disposable aluminum pan set on the hotter side of the grill, which acted as our makeshift ballpark flat-top grill. We seasoned the vegetables with vinegar, salt, and pepper, and they reached perfect tenderness just as the sausages finished cooking. Just before serving, we transferred the sausages to the disposable pan, covered it with aluminum foil, and let everything rest for a few minutes before serving. You can substitute hot Italian sausages for sweet if desired. Minor flare-ups are to be expected when grilling the sausages on the hotter side of the grill; they give the sausages colour and flavour.
- Toss bell peppers, onions, vinegar, sugar, oil, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Microwave, covered, until vegetables are just tender, about 6 minutes. Pour vegetable mixture and any accumulated juices into the disposable pan.
- For a charcoal grill Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
- For a gas grill Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner [or, if using a three-burner grill, primary burner and second burner] as needed to maintain grill temperature between 375 and 400 degrees.)
- Clean and oil cooking grate. Place disposable pan on the hotter side of grill (over primary burner if using gas). Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- Place sausages on the cooler side of grill and stir the vegetable mixture; cover and cook for 8 minutes. Flip sausages and stir the vegetable mixture again; cover and cook until sausages register 150 degrees and vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.
- Transfer sausages to disposable pan with vegetables; slide disposable pan to the cooler side of grill, then transfer sausages from disposable pan to hotter side of grill. Cook sausages, uncovered, turning often until well browned and registers 160 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes (there may be flare-ups).
- 6. Return sausages to disposable pan with vegetables. Remove disposable pan from grill, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide sausages and vegetables among rolls. Serve.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Penguin Random House.