Before grilling chicken thighs, Mario Batali crusts them with a simple and delectable combination of garlic, bread crumbs, parsley, and—a surprise ingredient—anchovy fillets, which add a salty, complex flavor.
In Mario Batali’s riff on the traditional antipasto of prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, he wraps spears in pancetta (which, unlike prosciutto, becomes nicely crispy when cooked) and grills them. Adding a bit of tanginess is the citronette, a marvelously bright-tasting mustardy-orange dressing.
“This dough is not the kind you throw in the air like in the movies,” Mario Batali says. He grills the crusts until they’re delectably charred, then adds one of two simple toppings—a classic Margherita with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil, and a pungent mix of Fontina, black olives and pine nuts. Batali cuts the pies into small wedges as appetizers but notes that they’re also hearty enough to be a main course.
Mario Batali advises seeking out Italian mortadella (cured sausage made from ground pork with a smooth, delicate flavor) for these wraps; American-made mortadella, he says, is no better than bologna. He also recommends buying exquisitely milky, creamy fresh robiola cheese, but says that fresh goat cheese or even ricotta would be acceptable stand-ins.
“This is my take on the Little Italy classic,” says Mario Batali of the sausage and peppers that’s a mainstay of the iconic Manhattan neighborhood and its annual street festival. Stewing the bell peppers in red wine gives them richness; so does a generous garnish of grated pecorino cheese. The stewed sausages and peppers are also delicious tossed with pasta.
Skirt steak, nicely marbled with fat, takes well to marinades, like this simple mix of herbs and garlic. Mario Batali accents the grilled meat with a sauce made with more herbs and garlic, plus capers and anchovies; he likes to make his salsa verde superthick.