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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Italian Egg Rolls

I dropped Caitie off at the airport this morning.  She has been home for her fall break for the last five days, days full of requests happily fulfilled (shopping all day?  Okay.........if you insist.......).

  "Patriots are playing at 4:15, are we going to have appetizers?"  Which wasn't really a request, more like a question.  We always have appetizers while we watch football on Sunday, so if anything, she asked her question just to reassure that we were, in fact, maintaining the tradition.

Then her request took place in the form of "veggies and dip, potato skins, mozzarella sticks, and Caprese Salad."

So there you have it.  

  Our game-day spread works best when the Pats are playing on Sunday afternoon, but even on the occasions where they have a night game or a Monday game, we still have our appetizers on Sunday afternoon, while watching another game.

I've already blogged about the potato skins and Caprese salad .  Today, I'll give you the Italian egg roll recipe.

Way back in 1987, Mr. Terrific and I dined at a local restaurant (that would soon become my favorite) and I tasted my first Italian Egg Roll. 

  Mr. Terrific had ordered them as an appetizer.  I was so not interested in them.  I don't really care for egg rolls, I really don't like sausage, they arrived with a small bowl of duck sauce--duck sauce? with Italian sausage?--I refused him when he offered the plate to me.

Mr. Terrific downed the first egg roll, interjecting a few "wows" and "mmm's"  (or something to that effect...) along the way.  As he reached for the second (and final) egg roll, he asked, "are you sure you don't want this?"  I was sure.  "Here...take half."  And he cut it in half and put it on my plate.

I know when I'm beat, so I cut a piece off of the egg roll and as I was about to take a bite, he protested, "no, no...use the sauce!"

I can't say that from the first bite I enthusiastically endorsed them as Mr. Terrific did, but strangely, I didn't hate them the way I thought that I would; in fact, I never failed to order Italian egg rolls at that restaurant from that time on.

The restaurant has been closed for many years, but that doesn't stop me from trying to replicate their menu items.  Despite my close examination of the egg roll filling, I've never quite figured out the exact ingredients, but I think this is close.  I'm pretty sure I got the duck sauce, correct, however, because we were able to get one of the waitresses to confess that all they did was add a bit of horseradish to the duck sauce!

Today's Playlist
  • "Musica Bella"......Lou Monte
  • "Twistin' The Night Away".......Sam Cooke
  • "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay".......Otis Redding
  • "Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu (Volare)".......Domenico Modugno
  • "That's Amore".........Lou Monte
  • "Sway"..........Michael Buble
  • "The Wanderer".......Dion
  • "Eh, Cumpari".......Julius LaRosa
  • "Blue Moon".......Marcels
  • "Beyond The Sea"......Bobby Caldwell
  • "Jump In The Line"........Harry Belafonte

Italian Egg Rolls
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. sweet Italian Sausage (removed from casings)
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup diced green peppers
  • 2/3 cup diced mushrooms (any type, I used Baby Bella)
  • 1 cup canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 8 egg roll wrappers
  • 2 cups vegetable or canola oil, for frying
For the Duck Sauce:
  • 1 cup jarred Duck sauce
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

Gather your ingredients.

Dice onion, pepper and mushrooms.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan on medium-high heat.

Remove sausage meat from casing.  I try to think about happy things while I'm doing this, and not how much I despise sausage.

I suggest you buy your sausage from a reputable retailer.  You have no idea what is in there.  I bought this from Whole Foods.  Locally, I also trust Roche Bros.

Saute the sausage for a minute or two until it begins to brown.

Push the sausage to one side of the pan, and add the onions, peppers and mushrooms.

Continue to saute, until the sausage is cooked through, about 3 to 4 more minutes.  I try my best to keep them on their own sides of the pan while I do this, but it's okay if they mix up a little bit.  Don't stress about it. 

You can see that the vegetables release quite a bit of liquid, which is why I like to keep them separate.    Maybe I'm crazy, but I feel like the meat browns better when there are no watery vegetables involved.

When the sausage has browned sufficiently, then I mix them all together.

Drain your tomatoes.  If you can't find fire-roasted tomatoes, regular canned diced tomatoes will do.  These tomatoes also have a bit of garlic in them.  Use whatever makes you happiest.  For the record, garlic makes me happy.

Add the tomatoes to the sausage/onions/peppers/mushrooms.

Stir until they're heated through.

You can see that there is really not a lot of grease in the pan.  This may not be the case if you use lower-quality sausage.  If you have a lot of grease, carefully remove the sausage mixture from the pan so that the grease stays behind.  If not, you will end up with soggy grease-laden egg rolls.

Place the sausage/veggie mixture into a medium-sized bowl.

Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano........

.......and the shredded mozzarella.

Stir to combine.  The hot veggies and sausage will immediately soften and melt the cheese.

To make the egg rolls: 
You will need a small cup of water, to moisten the edge of the egg roll.  You can see in the picture that two sides of the egg roll are wet.  Just dip your finger in the water and run it around the sides.

Place about 1/3 cup of filling in the center of the egg roll wrapper.  You've probably seen or eaten egg rolls before, you know the size of them, right?  Just plop an egg roll-sized amount of filling into the center of the wrapper.

To roll the egg roll:
Fold the side corners into the center, so they overlap about a half-inch.....

...fold the top corner down (it's okay if it wrinkles and creases a bit, as shown in the picture)...

...and then roll towards yourself.  The egg roll will seal itself as it rolls over the sides that you have moistened with water.

Repeat until all of the egg rolls are filled.

Heat the vegetable/canola oil in a frying pan over high heat.  Two cups of oil.  Egads, try not to think about it.  You need to submerge the egg rolls so that they will fry and get crisp, and it takes a lot of oil!

Find some solace in the fact that most of the oil will still be left in the pan when you are through.

When the oil has heated, carefully place the egg rolls into the hot oil.

You have already cooked the filling, all you are doing at this point is frying the egg rolls long enough to crisp the shells, which only takes a minute or two.

While the egg rolls are frying, prepare your dipping sauce.

Add the horseradish to the duck sauce.


Flip the egg rolls so they can brown on the other side.  After they have browned on the other side (about one minute), remove to a plate lined with paper towels, to drain. 

Finally, exhale as you realize that the quantity of oil that was making you queasy as you watched it glug, glug, glug into the pan is still mostly in the pan.

After the egg rolls have drained (about a minute), serve with the dipping sauce


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