The Lost Italian: Rhubarb granita

Tony Nasello shows us a thirst-quenching Sicilian dessert with a local twist that’s perfect for those hot summer days

Rhubarb Granita

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound rhubarb, cut into ½-inch slices
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon, freshly squeezed

1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot, and cook over medium-high for at least 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. All the sugar should be dissolved and the rhubarb will begin breaking down in texture. For a more intense flavor, cook for 40 to 45 minutes.
2. When ready, place a large fine-mesh strainer over a shallow baking dish (9-by-13-inch glass or metal pan). Use a ladle to transfer the rhubarb liquid to the strainer, a spoonful at a time. Gently use the back of the ladle to push the liquid through the sieve, while keeping the pulp of the rhubarb out of the mixture. Remove the rhubarb mush periodically from the strainer and discard.
When finished straining the liquid, the mixture should be clear and pink, and no higher than one inch of the dish. If there are any particles in the mixture, you will need to strain again until it is clear.
3. Place the dish in the freezer – do not cover. To achieve the proper texture of a granita, the liquid must be scraped with a force every 30 minutes for 2 to 3 hours. Scrape the length of the pan (not the width) back and forth with a fork, about 10 times each way. Once you’ve completed all the scraping, cover with plastic wrap or tin foil and freeze until serving.
4. To serve, use a round ice cream scoop and garnish with fresh mint or lemon balm. To vary this recipe, you can add strawberries, fresh mint, raspberries, nutmeg or ginger to the rhubarb while it’s cooking.

Keep in the freezer up to one week.

Hungry for More: Oysters Rockefeller

What better way to spend a day than slurping down some oysters?
JT Cigarro’s Chef Anthony Bachmann shows “Hungry for More” host Jim Manney just how it’s done but takes it a step further and whips up the famous “Oysters Rockefeller.”
With simple ingredients such as olive oil, spinach and a shallot, it doesn’t take much. But a hint of Sambuca is what really sends this dish over the edge.
Sambuca is an anise-flavored Italian liqueur, giving a dish a taste of fennel or black licorice.
Just top with bread crumbs and bake, easy as that.

Oysters Rockefeller
6 oysters
1 shallot
Olive oil
2 cups spinach
1 tablespoon clear Sambuca
Bread crumbs

-Shuck oysters.
-Chop shallot and sauté in olive oil. When shallots are translucent, add spinach. Once cooked down, deglaze with Sambuca. Place spinach mixture over oysters and top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees until bread crumbs are golden brown.

Hungry for More: Bolognese sauce

Last week on “Hungry for More,” we brought you Homemade Roasted Garlic Spinach Pasta, and this week we bring you the perfect sauce to go along with it.
Host Jim Manney is back at the Beefsteak Club with Chef Scott Motschenbacher to show us a Bolognese Sauce.
This sauce is made with fresh garlic, red wine, stewed tomatoes and a crowd favorite – bacon.
Chef Motschenbacher also uses a homemade demi-glace, but says beef stock will do the trick as well.
With just 10 minutes max cooking time, paired with the easy-to-make fresh pasta, it’ll be hard to go back to the boxed and jarred stuff.
A little extra effort goes a long way.

Bolognese Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh garlic
¼ cup red wine
4 ounces applewood bacon (diced)
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1 cup demi-glace or beef stock

Sauté garlic in butter and oil just until roasted. Deglaze with red wine. Add bacon. Cook for three to five minutes. Add tomatoes and demi-glace, and reduce by a third. Add fresh pasta and toss; garnish with fresh Parmesan.

The Lost Italian: Mojita chicken with corn salsa

Mojito Chicken

Serves 4-6
6 boneless, skinless split chicken breasts (if using whole breasts, cut in half, lengthwise)
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
zest from one lime
½ cup light rum (can also use coconut, dark, or spiced rum)
15 to 20 fresh mint leaves, cut chiffonade style
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
½ cup olive oil

-Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl or baking dish first, then toss the chicken in the mixture, making sure each piece is evenly coated. Cover the dish and refrigerate for two to four hours.
-When ready, grill the chicken on a hot, clean and lubricated grill. Grill on one side over direct heat for about five minutes until grill marks set in. Turn and grill on other side and grill over indirect heat for at least 10 minutes, until fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness at 180 degrees.
-When chicken is done, transfer to plates or serving platter and enjoy. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to two days.

Grilled Corn Salsa

Serves 4-6
8 ears of grilled corn (remove the kernels after grilling)
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1 orange bell pepper, small dice
1 red onion, small dice
1 cup grape tomatoes, small dice
8 to 10 leaves of mint, cut into thin strips, chiffonade-style
8 leaves of sweet basil, cut into thin strips, chiffonade-style
1 jalapeno, small dice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

-Mix ingredients together, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be prepared up to two days in advance.

Hungry for More: Homemade spinach & roasted garlic pasta

Why make your own pasta when you can easily just pour a box of store-bought noodles into a pot of boiling water?
As Chef Scott Motschenbacher shows “Hungry for More” host Jim Manney, the difference between the two leaves no competition.
Plus, you probably have most all the ingredients sitting right in your home.
The only hitch may be the pasta roller, which you can find at any cooking supplies store for a very reasonable price.
Chef Motschenbacher demonstrates how to ramp up your homemade pasta with spinach and roasted garlic.
You can add a little spice to yours too with a variety of different flavors, like sun-dried tomatoes, roasted bell peppers and a variety of spices.
Don’t wait for a special occasion, try this spinach and roasted garlic pasta or add your own twist to blow that box pasta right out of the water.

Spinach and roasted garlic pasta
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon roasted garlic
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 ounces fresh spinach
2 cups all-purpose flour

-Blend in food processor and knead with extra flour. Set for 1 hour.
-Put through pasta roller until you get to the smallest setting, then put through as whichever pasta you desire.
-Cook in salted boiling water until a minute after floating.

The Great Indoors: Aussie gives tips on ribs, shrimp

Don’t be surprised if Paul “Awesome Aussie” Mackay greets you at his booth at Happy Harry’s Ribfest with a huge elk-handled knife.

“We keep it around for when they start playing around with us,” he says.

By “playing around,” he means Americans who, upon hearing Mackay’s Australian accent, can’t help but quote the 1986 movie “Crocodile Dundee.”

“When they say, ‘That’s not a knife, THAT’s a knife!’ we pull this thing out! It gets a laugh!” he says.

But Mackay and his crew aren’t just about the giggles. The crew from down under has been in the rib business for 25 years and has earned countless first-place awards at rib festivals around the region, most recently walking away with a first-place finish at Sioux Fall’s fest.

But it’s not just ribs for Mackay. Awesome Aussies mixes their slow roasted ribs with grilled shrimp, something he calls the “original surf and turf.”

“How could we not serve shrimp on the barbie?” he laughs.

He says ribs and shrimp are the perfect combination, but what’s interesting is they involve cooking methods that couldn’t be much different from one another. Here are Mackay’s tips for making the best ribs and shrimp north of Sydney:

For the ribs

Try smoking them with cherry or applewood. It makes for a milder, less pungent flavor than hickory or mesquite wood.

Look for sauces with a fruit twist. He says fruit-based sauces are less acidic and add a sweeter flavor to the meaty rib. He says their Raspberry Chipotle Sauce is a huge hit in Fargo.

“It excites your tastebuds without being crazy hot!” he says.

Think low and slow. Mackay says by far the biggest mistake people make is trying to rush their ribs.

“People need to remember, ribs are a tougher meat. It takes a while for them to tenderize. It takes longer than your think, just slow down!”

Indirect heat is the way to go. Mackay says to heat your woodchips on one side of the grill and the ribs on the opposite side over zero heat. Smoke them for four to five hours (If you must do it in the oven, don’t forget to season the ribs then put it in a 225 degree oven for 2½ hours).

For the shrimp

Grill from frozen. Mackay says grilling from frozen helps the shrimp maintain its moisture.

Cook until it just turns white. Going much longer will make the shrimp tough.

Direct is best. Whereas ribs are low and slow, shrimp is high and fast. Cook them over direct heat for three to five minutes.

Mackay says the meal is topped off perfectly with their Australian cornbread made with creamed corn.

“Oh, it’s so good! It just melts in your mouth!”

And you just know they have the perfect knife with which to cut it.