Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Italian Style Anchovies, the way my grandparents made them

I know what you're thinking because it's the same thing all of my friends were thinking: Ew.

But that's likely because the only way you're had anchovies is on a pizza or Caesar salad. Lots of people say that anchovies are too salty. Well, you've probably never tried anchovies the way my Nonno (Italian for grandfather). When they're made this way, these little fish become addictive. I've made 3 plates of this stuff in the last week. It's so good, trust me.

So, if you want something a little different or you need a special appetizer or maybe just a snack, this recipe is simple, healthy, and delicious!

Ok, here's what you need:

  • red wine vinegar (a good brand like Star. I bought some Kroger brand red wine vinegar a while ago and it was garbage)
  • extra virgin olive oil (again, a good brand like Filipo Berrio)
  • 1-2 tins of anchovies in olive oil (you can get whatever brand of this you like. I prefer them from a tin rather than the ones you find in glass jars. Anchovies also can also come marinated in olive oil and capers. Never tried that, but I'm not a fan of capers.)
  • escarole (it's like lettuce but different. It's a little thicker, a little bitter, but it goes so well with a nice bite of anchovies)
  • celery with leaves (the leaves of the celery plant are delicate and tasty and also go very well with anchovies)
  • nice crusty bread, crackers, or French rounds (French rounds are those little pieces of crispy bread that you eat bruschetta on)

Now that you have everything you need, you will be astounded at how simple it is to make a plate of anchovies. First, crack open your first tin of the little guys and drain out some of the oil. Have a big clean plate ready and next to you. One by one, remove the anchovies from the tin, and rinse it under cool running water. Place the anchovy flat on the plate and repeat the steps. *If you're using more than one tin, make sure you organize the anchovies so that they all fit on the plate.

Once all the anchovies are rinsed and on the plate, take your red wine vinegar and pour it over the anchovies. You should use enough vinegar so that the anchovies are submerged. Now carefully trot the plate to your fridge (I hope you made some room) and let them sit in there for 2-4 hours.

During this time the anchovies are marinating in the red wine vinegar. I usually leave them in there even longer, like overnight. But that's because I usually forget. Either way you do it, it's a hard thing to screw up.

After your anchovies have been marinating for a few hours, take them out and drain them of the vinegar. Just hold the plate over the sink, carefully tilt it, and try to make sure that none of the anchovies fall off!

Right now, you should have a plate of anchovies and nothing else (maybe a little vinegar residue). Now take the extra virgin olive oil and pour it all over the anchovies so that they're covered with it. Put it back in the refrigerator for another hour or until you're ready to serve it.

When serving, I recommend that you first put some of the olive oil from the anchovy plate onto your nice piece of bread, cracker, or whatever. Then place a few anchovies on there. Garnish with celery leaves and/or escarole.

Personally, I prefer to take a huge bite of the bread and anchovies, then shove half a leaf of escarole in my mouth as well.

I'm not very lady-like, it's true. But hey - I know how to eat.