one of the best meals that i have ever had, as in EVER, was not surprisingly at a restaurant owned by the stellar batali/bastianich duo, along with chef nancy silverton. the dinner was spectacular. it was one of those nights when the kitchen must have been firing on all cylinders, unlike my dinner six nights later at babbo where we had a somewhat disappointing culinary affair. but osteria mozza was a solid 9+. it was truly a near perfect dinner. i distinctly recall the simply prepared and impeccably grilled octopus with potatoes, celery and lemon, the calf’s brain ravioli (that absolutely blew me away) as well as the crisp and ultra tender duck that came served on a wooden plank with a wonderful pear mostarda. all three dishes were exquisite. somehow i can only barely remember the rest, but to begin with there was ‘mozza’s’ obligatory and creamy burrata, ours served with a leeks vinaigrette – and to finish, a torta with pine nuts and honey along with some bombolini and lemon curd. absolutely smashing.
being an east coast oriented kind of person, i was somehow not aware of nancy and the famed ‘la brea’ and ‘campanile’. and all the cookbooks and the awards and various accolades, i was in the dark… until last year when i fell upon a book called ‘a twist of the wrist – quick flavorful meals with ingredients from jars, cans, bags, and boxes’. but before you gasp at the very notion that i’ve gone all sandra lee on you, let me assure you that this is nothing like that. or maybe it is, except the jars, cans, bags and boxes that silverton suggests are the very kind that line my pantry. most of which are mail ordered or bought at specialty stores. most of which might be considered ‘high brow’ or ‘pricey’ or just not what most people are used to seeing. and so if you know me then you would easily understand that i LOVED the idea of this book when i heard about it because well, i am only willing to go so far with my cooking. but i am, if nothing, a fanatical fan of the finest…
and i was excited enough about this book to want to spread the word. so one afternoon, not long after owning ‘twist of the wrist’ a friend stopped by and began curiously flipping through its pages. so i sent her home with the book – if only to prove the "convenience" point. i haven’t seen it since (although i was truly and duly thanked) and i’ve been remiss in buying another.
but just the other day i was fortunate enough to come across this recipe on the new food & wine website. and with a jar of beautiful piquillo peppers and a can of chickpeas along with some fage greek yogurt - all already owned by moi, i made us a spectacular dinner served over instant italian organic polenta. and dear readers, we were eating a superb dinner that was prepared in about 30 minutes from start to finish.
*cook’s note - after the meatballs were browned, i drained off probably 3/4 of the oil and fat in the pan before adding the peppers, stock and yogurt.
1/2 cup roasted piquillo peppers from a jar
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt, preferably greek, plus more for serving
2 pounds ground lamb
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons (i suggest using 3) kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups chickpeas from a jar or can, drained
in a mini food processor, puree the peppers. transfer the puree to a bowl and whisk in the broth and 1/2 cup yogurt. in a large bowl,
combine the lamb, eggs, garlic, 1/4 cup parsley and the thyme and smoked paprika. add the 4 teaspoons kosher salt. using your hands, gently mix, then roll into sixteen 2-inch meatballs. in a very large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. add the meatballs and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 8 minutes.
slide the meatballs to one side of the pan. add the red-pepper sauce and the chickpeas and bring just to a boil. (*see cook’s note above)
simmer the meatballs over moderately low heat, stirring and turning them occasionally in the sauce, until the sauce reduces slightly, 10 minutes. season with salt. transfer the meatballs and chickpeas to a platter,
spoon the pepper sauce on top, garnish with parsley and serve with yogurt.
as of tonight, ‘twist of the wrist’ has once again been ordered. if you come by the house, i’ll be keeping an eye on my copy…