After a little persuasion, I finally got Frank to share his famous spaghetti and meatballs recipe. He has been cooking this for me since we started dating, and it was actually the meal he made me the night he proposed. I like it because it’s not as sweet as some marinaras are, it has a nice kick. The meatballs aren’t too dense, and not overly greasy because he bakes them. He always makes a big batch of sauce, so I freeze the leftovers. They are great to thaw out for when I need marinara, so much better (and cheaper) than using jarred. I’ll start with the hubby’s recipes. First, Roggio Marinara, then Francesco’s Meatballs. He combined recipes he learned growing up and made them much easier and quicker. With his recipes you don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen to get an amazing homemade Italian meal. finish up with showing you one of my favorite ways to use leftover sauce, Baked Chicken Parmesan. Let’s get started on these famous Roggio recipes.
I’m overly excited to share this recipe with everyone. Despite Frank’s pale appearance (and red beard), he is 50% Italian, actually Sicilian to be specific. His grandparents born in Sicily, and moved to the states before Frank’s dad was born. Frank learned a few different versions of marinara and combined them to make his own version, and man is it good. I like it because it’s a spicier marinara, almost an arrabbiata sauce. The carrots add some sweetness, but simmering the spicy sausage in the sauce give it amazing flavor. The secret to make this sauce absolute perfection is to spend a little extra on good canned sauce and tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes are the best, they are a little pricer but totally worth it. It’s also better to use puree instead of sauce, it’s a more natural version and it also not as thick.
To start, chop all of your vegetables. Make sure everything is cut to about this same size, this way everything cooks evenlly. By the way, this is the only picture Frank took while cooking this recipe. I left him in charge of cooking and taking pictures, he didn’t realize until he started making the meatballs that he didn’t get any of the marinara. But honestly, everything just goes in a big pot…so I let him off the hook.
Sauté all the vegetables until softened, he usually does about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, only a couple minutes. The add the wine, oh does this make the kitchen smell so good. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, this adds some great flavor to the sauce. However, you only will achieve this if using a stainless steel pan…no yummy brown bits with nonstick. Then just add everything else into the pan. Water, puree, tomatoes, and spices.
Like I previously said, simmering spicy Italian sausage into the sauce make it so delicious! Cut the links into one inch pieces. Then bake at 375º for 30 minutes. Add these spicy nuggets to the sauce and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Count how many links you put into the sauce. If you freeze the leftovers WITH the sausage the sauce becomes VERY spicy. If you aren’t a fan of spicy, sweet italian sausage work just as well.
When ready to serve, remove the sausage and put in a small side dish. Also, if you can find them, remove the 3 bay leaves.
This makes A TON of sauce. I can usually at least four meals out of this sauce. Just freeze any leftovers in 3-4 ziplock bags, thaw whenever you are in need of marinara. Just buy some store bought raviolis, and you have homemade sauce to make a quick weeknight dinner. ENJOY this “secret” Roggio family recipe.
There are so many different ways to make a meatballs. I’ve made my fair share of meatballs, and these are the best AND the easiest. Frank also came up with these by combining a few recipes he learned growing up. He doesn’t brown them first, which makes these super easy and quick to make. Also, sometimes we only make them with beef and they are just as good (just add some olive oil to add some fat). If we are making a big Italian feast, throw the meatballs in the Roggio Marinara to let them soak in that liquid amazing-ness.
Start by chopping up all the veggies. You want them as small as possible. If you don’t have ninja knife skills, just use a cheese grater on the veggies. This is actually the best way to do it, it’s just a little more time consuming. Combine the veggies with the egg, cheese, salt and pepper. I prefer to use fresh herbs in meatballs, it adds a layer of flavor that I like over dried herbs. However, dry herbs work just as well. Just try to at least use fresh parsley, it’s so cheap anyways!
After all that schtuff is whisked together, add the meat, herbs and the saltine crackers. Crush the crackers into a breadcrumb-like consistency. Also, make sure to use NON-SALTED saltines, salted ones make the meatballs to salty.
Next take everything and mix it with your hands, the best tool. Make sure not to over mix the meat, it gives the meatballs a weird texture.
Frank makes HUGE meatballs, so he usually makes about 10-12 meatballs. However, if you like your meatballs smaller that’s perfectly fine. Form the meatballs and place onto a baking sheet.
Bake these bad boys at 375º for 35-40 minutes, depending on the size. I like to check them at about 30 minutes, crack one open and adjust how much more time they need (if any). Throw them in marinara, even if your using jarred. Once again, make sure you count how many you put in the sauce so they can be removed before you freeze leftovers.
Serve with some spaghetti and garlic bread…and you have a damn good meal!
Now time for one of my recipes! Who doesn’t love chicken parmesan?! Breaded chicken breast doused with marinara and cheese…YES PLEASE. The authentic way is to fry the chicken breasts, but I don’t think it’s necessary and it adds SOO much more fat and calories. Baking them is also so much easier. Chicken parmesan usually a nice thin piece of chicken. So place the breasts in a ziplock baggie and beat the crap out of it to make them nice and thin. Another option is to take a large chicken breast and cut it in half horizontally.
The breading is the same as it would be if you fried the chicken, with three different steps.
The first step is dredging the breasts in seasoned flour. The idea is to just have a thin layer of flour so the egg sticks to the breast. So shake off any extra flour. I just add salt, pepper and a little garlic powder to the flour. Next, dip into the egg mixture of egg, water and a little hot sauce. Let excess drip off. Then toss in italian seasoned breadcrumbs (which are already seasoned).
Next place the breasts on a wired baking sheet. Spray each side with olive oil spray, this helps make the breading become nice and crispy.
Next bake at 425º for 20 minutes, until you start to see some browning on the chicken. Remove them from the oven and top with Roggio Marinara and cheese…nom nom.
Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the chicken is done. Once again, cook time depends on size of the breasts. I like my cheese a little crispy, so I turned on the broiler for a couple minutes at the end. Sprinkle with some fresh basil or parsley. Serve this up with some pasta and a salad, and you have another Iconic Italian meal.
These are some recipes that have been handed down from Frank’s family and I’m so happy to share them with you. I’m so lucky to have some amazing Italian cooks in the family, and I plan on sharing A LOT more. I hope you all enjoy these Iconic Italian recipes from the Roggio kitchen!
I also want to thank everyone for being so wonderful during my recovery time. I’m so blessed to have such amazing friends and family. Surprisingly, I can’t wait to go back to work. Sitting at home and healing is actually pretty hard for me. But I’ve done a lot of crafting and reading…and almost watched the entire Breaking Bad series! It’s been a quick recovery, and I couldn’t do it without everyone.