Monday, April 09, 2007

To Anchovy or Not To Anchovy?

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.)


dave said...

We use about half a tin in our Spaghetti Puttanesca recipe, along with capers, olives, tomatoes, hot pepper & garlic. You can't taste the fishiness at all. In fact, its one of our 'go-to' quick/easy/delicious everything-from-the-pantry recipes.

Maren said...

What did you do with the other 17 anchovies? I've never had them- too scared. (This coming from the Norwegian who liked pickled herring straight.)

dävid said...

anchovy story:

when my father and i were building our home in the mountains of colorado, we lived off of canned food. we were living in our garage which had electricity, and such furnishings as a microwave and a sink with no running water, but emptied into a bucket.

in such circumstances my father ate anchovies at night sometimes to spicen up the doldrums of chef boyardee ravolies and sandwiches.

such humble circumstances led my father to eat anchovies. i do not wish to give an account of how they adversely affected his digestive system.

i never tried them. i have no desire to try them.

Kari (Disco Mom) said...

Maren - I wrapped them up tight in a plastic shopping bag and threw them out. Mom said I could probably freeze them but honestly, if I ever choose to cook with them again I'll just buy another tin.

Shells said...

You also use anchovies to make caesar dressing. We made it from scratch once and it was delicious. So, many of you eat anchovies, you just didn't know it.

dave said...

Pasta Puttanesca

Therese said...

i'm continually intrigued by how you can do so much with two little ones. were they asleep when you made this? was ed home to help with hazel and ginger during the preparation? did 'dora' lend a hand?

Kari (Disco Mom) said...

I could only do it because it was Sunday afternoon and now that Ed is released from the Bishopric he was home. I rarely cook real meals during the week when it's just me and the girls. But if I ever attempt something during the week, Dora is usually involved in a babysitting role.

By the way, Rocky Road ice cream pie sounds fancy but only involved a carton of ice cream and a store-bought cookie crumb pie crust. A little fancy garnish on top like caramel sauce and chocolate chips makes it look impressive.

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