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Rao's On the Grill: Perfectly Simple Italian Recipes from My Family to Yours Hardcover – May 22, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

FRANK PELLEGRINO, JR. is a fourth-generation scion of the family that founded and still owns and operates Rao's restaurant, a culinary legend and a New York City landmark in East Harlem. His restaurant Baldoria in New York City's theater districts was called "a prime specimen of a special genre, the Italian-American restaurant (serving) feel-good food in a feel-good setting". Since 2006, he has run the Rao's at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

RAO'S ON THE GRILL (Chapter One)appetizers and salads

SALADS ARE A MAINSTAY OF OUTDOOR EATING. THEY WHET EVERYONE'S appetite for what's to come later in the meal, and they can act as excellent side dishes to the main course. The best part is, they can easily be prepared ahead of time so that the host has more time to spend with guests. Several of these dishes are inspired by the appetizer menu of Rao's, such as Grilled Red Peppers with Pignoli and Raisins, and Grilled Seafood Salad. Now you can have Rao's outdoors.

CRAB COCKTAIL IN RADICCHIO CUPS GRILLED SEAFOOD SALAD GRILLED SHRIMP COCKTAIL SHRIMP SALAD WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE TUNA AND CANNELLINI BEAN SALAD EGG AND VEGETABLE SALAD GREEN BEAN AND POTATO SALAD MACARONI SALAD RAO'S PASTA SALAD WITH TOMATOES, MOZZARELLA, AND BASIL TOMATO AND RED ONION SALAD CREAMY TORTELLINI SALAD WITH DILL AND WALNUTS SUMMER TORTELLINI SALAD GRILLED ROMAINE SALAD GRILLED RED PEPPERS WITH PIGNOLI AND RAISINS


crab cocktail in radicchio cups

Makes 4 servings

Calling this light and tasty dish crab cocktail is really unfair, as it bears no resemblance to the kind that is covered in horseradish-spiked ketchup. The crabmeat filling can also be served on Belgian endive leaves for a finger-food appetizer.

1 cup jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for cartilage and shells

5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons freshly cooked or thawed frozen peas

½ teaspoon finely diced celery

½ teaspoon finely diced red bell pepper

½ teaspoon pitted and finely diced black olives

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 large radicchio leaves

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

1 Put the crabmeat in a large bowl and flake it well by hand. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil and the lemon juice and mix.

2 Stir in the mayonnaise and mustard, and mix again. Add the peas, celery, bell pepper, and olives and mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The salad can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated.

3 Place each radicchio leaf on a plate. Fill each leaf with equal amounts of the crabmeat mixture and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon of the remaining oil. Garnish with the cherry tomato halves and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.


grilled seafood salad

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Seafood Salad is one of Rao's signature dishes and difficult to improve on. But, I like the touch of smoky flavor provided by grilling. This salad should be a mainstay of your entertaining repertoire. Perfect seafood, dressed with a light and bright-tasting dressing, can't be topped for summer dining.

Marinade

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

6 jumbo (U-16 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 calamari sacs, cleaned, head and tentacles removed

3 lobster tails, about 8 ounces each, thawed if necessary

1/3 cup jumbo lump crabmeat, shredded and picked through for cartilage and shells

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon finely chopped red bell pepper

1 teaspoon finely chopped celery

1 teaspoon finely chopped black olives

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Juice of 2 lemons

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 Prepare an outdoor grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (450°F).

2 To make the marinade: Whisk together the wine, olive oil, and lemon juice in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Add the shrimp and calamari and stir to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, no longer.

3 Place a lobster tail, shell side down, on a cutting board. Using a large sharp knife, split the tail lengthwise just to the shell, but do not cut all the way through. Slide a metal skewer through the tail meat on one side of the tail lengthwise--this keeps the tail from curling up when cooked. Repeat with the remaining lobster tails.

4 Brush the cooking grate clean and lightly oil the grill. Put the lobsters on the grill, shell side down. Grill, with the lid closed as much as possible, until the shells begin to turn red, about 4 minutes. Flip, cover, and grill until the lobster shells are completely red and the meat looks opaque, about 4 minutes more. Remove from the grill and let cool. Split each tail in half, remove the lobster meat, and roughly chop the meat, discarding the shells. Put the lobster meat in a large serving bowl.

5 While the lobster is cooling, remove the calamari and shrimp from the marinade; discard the marinade. Place the calamari and shrimp on the grill. Grill, with the lid closed as much as possible, until they begin to turn opaque around the edges, about 3 minutes. Flip, close the lid, and continue cooking until the calamari and shrimp are opaque, 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

6 Slice the cooked calamari and shrimp, discarding tails, crosswise into ¼-inch-thick rings. Add to the lobster meat, along with the shrimp and crabmeat. Drizzle with the olive oil. Add the bell pepper, celery, olives, and garlic and mix. Pour the lemon juice over the salad and mix again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve chilled.


grilled shrimp cocktail

Makes 6 servings

For those of us who appreciate the good old-fashioned shrimp cocktail, redolent with horseradish, here is a grilled version that is guaranteed to please. Fresh horseradish really knocks this out of the ballpark. Use the biggest shrimp you can find: The big ones that weigh about 1 ounce each are my choice.

1 cup tomato ketchup

2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh horseradish (use the small holes on a box grater)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup dry white wine

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

18 extra-jumbo (U-16) shrimp, peeled and deveined with the tail segment attached

Lemon wedges for garnish

1 To make the cocktail sauce: Whisk together the ketchup, horseradish, and garlic in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours to marry the flavors.

2 Prepare an outdoor grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (450°F).

3 Whisk together the wine, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a large glass or stainless steel bowl. Add the shrimp and marinate for 10 minutes, no longer.

4 Brush the cooking grate clean. Remove the shrimp from the marinade, discarding the marinade. Put the shrimp on the grill. Grill, with the lid closed as much as possible, until the shrimp begin to turn opaque around the edges, about 3 minutes. Flip the shrimp and cook until opaque throughout, about 3 minutes more. Remove the shrimp from the grill.

5 Spoon the cocktail sauce into six ramekins. For each serving, place 3 shrimp on a plate and serve warm with the sauce and lemon wedges.


shrimp salad with lemon vinaigrette

Makes 4 servings

Miles away from the mayonnaise-rich seafood salad you will find at many summertime parties, this one has a fine Italian sensibility. The sweet, plump shrimp meat is set off nicely by crunchy bits of cucumber and tart cornichons (tiny cucumber pickles). With slightly larger portions, you could serve this as a main-course salad. Don't make this too far ahead of time or the vinaigrette will "pickle" the shrimp.

1 Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the juice of 1 lemon. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl of ice water to chill. Peel and devein the shrimp, and chop them into ½-inch dice. Transfer to a medium bowl.

2 Add the cornichons, cucumber, fennel, and red onion and mix. Add the arugula, olive oil, and garlic and toss. Add the juice of the remaining lemon and the vinegar. Toss again and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour, no longer.

Kosher salt

Juice of 2 lemons

1 pound jumbo (21/25 count) shrimp

6 cornichons, coarsely chopped

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped

½ cup coarsely chopped fennel bulb

½ cup finely chopped red onion

4 cups packed arugula leaves, well rinsed

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper


tuna and cannellini bean salad

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Tuna and cannellini bean salad is a zesty alternative to the other starchy salads that you might find too often on the pi...

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250006279
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250006271
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.7 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The pictures are great. Has a different twist on BBQ. Some of the marinades are awesome. I find that many of the recipes are expensive to duplicate Many of the recipes call for tomatoes,preferably "San Marzano." With the herbs and seasonings used in these recipes, you couldn't tell a San Marzano from a Imperial Valley(California) tomato. The prep for some recipes is very time consuming. The flavor profiles that the recipes bring to the table; is the twist I was referring to. I have made a couple of recipes, and they were delicious. Lots of flavor and aroma. I bought this Rao's cookbook to add to the one I purchased fifteen years ago. Recipes from the New York original Rao's. That has some fantastic recipes.
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Run, don't walk, from this cookbook.

There is a lot wrong with it. There are many mistakes in the ingredient lists. And with so many errors, and missing directions, and ingredient lists that don't follow instruction sequences--as there are in this book--any but the most basic recipes cannot be trusted.

For instance: There is a burger recipe that makes four 9 ounce patties from 2 1/2 pounds of meat (last time I checked that was 40 ounces. You do the math...The recipe also calls for 3 cups of roasted and diced bell peppers, 3 cups of grated "Parmigianino" cheese, 2 cups of water, 4 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon pepper and a 1/4 cup chopped parsley, but the directions don't tell you what to do with those ingredients. Maybe mix it with the meat? Really? And still only make four patties? Yikes!? Here's what makes the burger special and so very original: A slice of tomato, two slices of provolone cheese and a lettuce leaf. "Feel free to toast your buns if you prefer." Well, thank you very much for that offer! Let's not forget two tablespoons roasted red pepper aioli (recipe on the next page); is that two tablespoons per burger or divided among the four burgers? The aioli recipe calls for 7 egg yolks, one QUART of corn oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, ANOTHER four tablespoons salt, ANOTHER 3 cups roasted and blended red pepper (is that blended before or after measuring 3 cups??), 2 teaspoons cayenne and t tablespoons paprika. And, what you don't use up on your four burgers, you better use up within two days.....

Recipes are familiar from the 80's and 90's: There is nothing new here. Most of the grill recipes are adapted from restaurant recipes: They seem to be "forced" to work on a grill, instead of made for the grill.
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OK, so I read the reviews, one stating that the book would have been great 20 years ago but not so much now... Many, but not all, of the recipes are as my mom did back in the 50s when meat was inexpensive, that is the criteria I use many times when buying an Italianish cook book (other than a book of traditional recipes), that is, how much does it bring me back to those wonderful days of my youth? Does a cook book remind me of my double youths in Berkeley, California, Piemonte and Sicily in Italy? Leaning towards Italian-American cooking I buy this book. So maybe convenience products are occasionally used but that was the case with many families in the New Land. I remember an aged aunt telling us how for a long while her newly arrived family gave up Italian bread because the American foamy variety "was like cake." ~Gian Banchero, Berkeley, California
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There are a number of recipes in here that, if the directions are reasonably well followed, will result in some delicious food. Lemon chicken is, perhaps, my favorite. And the recipes cover the entire menu of possibilities for summer meals: salads, meats (many meats), seafood, pasta, pizza, vegetables, and desserts. I do enjoy the book and I do use it on a semi-regular basis. However, I have two criticisms of the book. One is that the author has a rather shizoid approach to using fresh ingredients and doing things from scratch. For example, he is a big believer in using imported San Marzano tomatoes in recipes (although, based on my experience, a person can also get a very good red sauce with other less expensive varieties of canned tomatoes). But, especially in the dessert section, Pellegrino includes some ingredients in the list more as shortcuts than as items that will improve the recipe. In this section, one finds ingredients that include vanilla instant pudding, a jar of caramel sauce, a can of cherry pie filling, a box of pineapple supreme cake mix. All of these items will lower the quality of the food made and none of them are really very difficult to do yourself with a decent recipe and a little time and effort. The other criticism I have of the book is that there's not really a whole lot of recipes in the book that you could not find in many other cookbooks on the market or in a decent public library. If you checked out the most recent Webber grill book or Mario Batali's Italian Grill you would find many of these same recipes there as well. In fact, I prefer Batali's method of cooking pizza on the grill to Pellegrino's, although I use a cast iron griddle rather than buying Batali's recommended product.Read more ›
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