Monday, February 8, 2010

Pigs in a Blanket-Italian Style

Fig.1. It's just another way to make a sausage pannini but cooking everything together really gives it a special taste and texture.

I’ve wanted to make these for a long time and there was no better day than yesterday; the Canadiens played an afternoon game followed by the Super Bowl, and Lisa and I were hosting. Here’s my version of a game day classic, it might be a guilty pleasure, but, in doing it yourself you know exactly what’s in it, and, without sounding to proud, it tastes a hell of a lot better than any over-salted, frozen junk being marketed as “game day food.”

Stecca di Salsiccia (Pigs in a Blanket)
Makes 9 sausage rolls


Pizza Dough
9 Italian sausages, boiled for 20 minutes, dried and cooled
3 onions, sliced thin and caramelized

The recipe for the dough comes from Jim Lahey’s new cookbook, My Bread. Lahey is the owner of New York’s, Sullivan Street Bakery—a place that can only be described as bread and pastry heaven, (much more on Sullivan Street Bakery in my next post) If you don’t feel like making the dough yourself, buy it, most Italian pastry shops sell ready-made pizza dough.
Below is Lahey’s Stecca recipe; one of many pizza dough recipes found in his book. The genius to Lahey’s approach is in his long, slow, rising technique, so plan ahead.

Stecca Bread

3 cups bread flour
½ tsp table salt
¾ tsp sugar
¼ tsp instant or active dry yeast
1 ½ cups cool (55 to 65 degrees F) water
additional flour for dusting
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ coarse sea salt

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, table salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Fold the dough over itself two or three times and gently shape it into a somewhat flattened ball. Brush the surface of the dough with some of the olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ tsp of the coarse salt (which will gradually dissolve on the surface).

Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with cornmeal or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely cover the dough to cover it and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Fig.2. The caramelized onions sweeten the rolls, if onions aren't your thing try chopped olives or sun dried tomatoes-whatever you decide to use just make sure it's not wet; anything marinated in oil or vinegar has to be well drained and dried.

Fig.3. I didn't have a large enough cookie sheet so I used two small ones that both fit in the middle rack of my oven. If your cookie sheets don't both fit in the middle rack you'll have to keep an eye on the rolls as you cook them, alternating oven levels. You can also use aluminum foil to cook the rolls on. Space the rolls at least two inches apart.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and set the middle rack. Cut and form the dough into nine small pieces, about the size of a small apple. Flatten the dough, and then using your knife, cut dough into a triangle (keep the pieces and reform them together). Place the sausage and one tablespoon of caramelized onion at the wide end of the triangle (see Fig.2.) and roll tightly, making sure the dough isn’t loose (I roll it halfway making sure the onions are secure, then pick up the roll and pull the triangular point of the dough over, gently stretching it. I then press the tip of the dough until it holds, if the tip of the dough doesn’t hold, wet the dough a little on the contact points). Place the rolls on a large, greased cookie sheet, brush with remaining olive oil, sprinkle with remaining sea salt and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.


Food and Fate said...

I'm done these over a BBQ with my dad's home made sausage! Delicous

The Hungry Italian said...

That's a great idea! Now you've really given me something to look forward to. By BBQ is in a shed guarded by 4 feet of snow.