Sometimes - two or three times a month - I like to try a new recipe. I get them from cookbooks, cooking shows or the internet mostly. A few weeks ago I saw a good episode of 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray. I get a lot of good recipes from her show and I like them but I wish she'd lay off the mustard and cumin, two of her favorite ingredients. Anyway, in this episode she made an Italian meatball "stoup" called Zuppa Osso Buca. Looked yummy, I took note. I was especially intrigued by a garnish she made, called gremolata. It had parsley, garlic, lemon zest and a whole freaking tin of anchovies. You chop them all up together and spoon it onto the stew and swirl it in.
I was slightly horrified at all the anchovies. My only experience with them was once in high school. Matt Harpin and I went to Generous George's in Alexandria, and feeling adventurous, ordered a large pizza with anchovies. How bad can it be, we thought. After all, it's still pizza. Please. Fools in our youth! It was totally disgusting and we had to drink lots and lots of root beer to get rid of the taste. But the memory never went away.
We invited some friends over for dinner this weekend and I wanted to make Rachael's zuppa but I was torn what to do about the gremolata. To anchovy or not? When I went grocery shopping I went ahead and bought the tin just in case. I consulted with my mom, what would she do? She said they're like I remember: hairy, salty and fishy. Go easy, she advised. So Sunday afternoon it came time to make the garnish. I chopped up all the other things and added 1/2 of one anchovy, all chopped up. Then sniffed the mixture. Not too fishy. So I added the other half, making a total of one anchovy. A tin contains approximately eighteen.
The stoup was good, the garnish was great. Not too fishy at all. The lemon and garlic were especially super additions to the flavor of the stew. I highly recommend the recipe. Next time I might even be more daring and add TWO anchovies.
Who else has an anchovy story?
(FYI we also had fruit salad, Italian bread and Rocky Road ice cream pie for dessert.)