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Pasta alla Carbonara – Stop the Cream on Carbonara Crimes!

10 Nov

Pasta alla Carbonara Recipe; an Authentic from Rome
Recipe by

One of the signature dishes of Rome along with Bucatini all’Amatriciana, is Pasta alla Carbonara. You can’t visit the Italian capital without trying both of these Roman classics and I myself have been enjoying carbonara since I learned how to walk. Like many other recipes from Rome, guanciale and/or pancetta are vital to the dish and sadly the authentic recipe has been savagely abused here in the States in what I refer to as “cream on carbonara crime“, where traditional ingredients are substituted with heavy cream, butter, and bacon (Francesco Totti, captain of A.S. Roma is beside himself, believe you me!). I’m starting a campaign against these dastardly criminals who have butchered the good name of carbonara in restaurants across the great US-of-A and one day I hope to bring this to the attention of congress (my political platform is growing by the minute)! It might not have the same noteriety or collective support in finding a cure as voice immodulation but we can no longer ignore these terrible atrocities. In the meantime I’m sharing the true Roman recipe of Pasta alla Carbonara that my mother has prepared all my life and shared with me. The best part is that there are only a few ingredients required to create this easy and delicious dish. But cream my friends, is not allowed! Authentic Roman Pasta alla Carbonara recipe ingredients including pancetta, Pecorino Romano, eggs, spaghetti, black pepper and olive oil from Paggi Pazzo

To create the authentic Pasta alla Carbonara recipe all you need is 1/3 pound of guanciale and/or pancetta, a few tablespoons of olive oil, 2 eggs (eggs?!?!?!!?? stay with me here…), 1/2 pound of spaghetti, 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano and two teaspoons of black pepper. The traditional carbonara includes spaghetti but it’s not uncommon to find short pasta in many of the restaurants in and around Rome. In fact, the restaurant that my mother and father dined at frequently when they were dating (but has since changed its name to) La Gattabuia in Trastevere had an excellent Pasta alla Carbonara using short pasta (and if you have the chance when in Rome, GO TO THIS RESTAURANT! Really great food, although it’s definitely off the beaten path and not a tourist spot but that’s usually where the best food is). Many chefs here in the States like to add vegetables or chicken (and in all honesty, I have added mushrooms before), but the true Roman way includes only these items…and maybe a glass of red to get you through the long arduous process….of all some 30 minutes!

To get started, grate the Pecorino Romano and chop the guanciale and/or pancetta into little chunks (I prefer pancetta personally for the carbonara but use what you like – just not bacon, it’s sooooo not cool and we’re trying to keep it classy here at Paggi Pazzo). Cook the pancetta in a pan with olive oil and start your boiled water. In the meantime, crack two eggs into a bowl and add a pinch of pepper and a teaspoon of grated Pecorino Romano then beat them like you were making an omelet or angry at your fake rented mule (I can’t say a real mule because PETA would probably try to have my site banned and that’s not good for my yet to be started political career). The tricky part from here is when the pancetta starts to brown and the pasta is boiled and drained, you have to quickly add the pancetta, and remaining Pecorino Romano (grated) to the hot pasta and stir quickly. Then just as quickly, add the eggs to the pasta while stirring and continue to stir for several minutes. What this does is cook the eggs as a light sauce but it’s important not to hesitate when mixing to the pasta because if you do you’ll have spaghetti with breakfast or if you wait too long after the pasta has cooled, you get runny under-cooked eggs with spaghetti. The recipe is that simple and yet sooooooo good, seriously! If you’ve never had the true authentic way you’ll never want to go back to “cream on carbonara crime” and you’ll also probably join me in my fight against those torturing this Roman masterpiece!

Like the other Roman classic Bucatini all’Amatriciana, there is a heavy dose of guanciale and/or pancetta, Pecorino Romano, and no garlic (no garlic?!?!?! What you talkin’ about Willis?), but the eggs and combination of ingredients for the carbonara really bring the flavors to light. I also made some zucchini with onions in a red sauce to keep the Roman theme going, but feel free to make your own side dish or enjoy the carbonara on it’s own. As for wine, most experts suggest a white wine because of the white sauce but also because the “cream on carbonara crime” offers a different texture and heaviness than the authentic carbonara. My suggestion would be to select a red such as a French Cabernet or Chianti as it really accentuates the taste of the pancetta or do what the locals do and enjoy the delightful bottle of a red Cesanese. So there you have it, one of Paggi Pazzo’s all time favorites – Pasta alla Carbonara, “in bocca la lupo“!

Classic Roman Pasta alla Carbonara recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Pasta alla Carbonara Recipe

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 15 min

Total time: 25 min

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1/2 pound spaghetti (Barilla)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 pound guanciale and/or pancetta
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Cooking Directions

  1. Grate Pecorino Romano into bowl then cut guanciale and/or pancetta into small thin chunks and place in pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until guanciale and/or pancetta is lightly browned
  2. While pancetta cooks, boil pasta water and when ready, add spaghetti and cook for 11 minutes or until al dente
  3. Prior to the pasta being ready, crack eggs and place into a bowl with a pinch of pepper and teaspoon of Pecorino Romano then beat for several minutes
  4. Once pasta is ready, drain water and place back into pot then quickly add guanciale and/or pancetta from pan, remaining pepper, and remaining grated Pecorino Romano. Stir quickly then add eggs while stirring pasta. Continue to stir for several minutes while pasta is hot so egg cooks into a light sauce
  5. Add pasta to serving bowl and if desired, add a sprinkle of grated Pecorino Romano and get ready to be stunned with flavor!

Pasta alla Carbonara Recipe

4.5 out of 5
stars based on 20 ratings.

Click here for full Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Roman Style Pizza – All Roads (and Thin Crusts) Lead to Rome!

3 Nov

Roman Style Thin Crust and Pizza al Taglio Recipes
Recipe by

Roma is home to some of the best pizza in the world and in constant competition with Napoli for bragging rights. While Napoli is known for their pizza margherita, Rome has two distinct pizza styles; thin crust and “pizza al taglio“, which translates in English to pizza by the slice. The thin crust is the classic Roman pizza and the origin of where thin crust came from (ya’ hear that New York?!?!?) while the pizza al taglio, now common everywhere in Italy, originated in Rome and is baked in long cooking sheets and sliced in rectangles – for those on the go. The pizza al taglio I’ve enjoyed immensely since day one as a little boy and you can find all different types, like the Pizza Bianca (white pizza), Pizza Rossa (red sauce) and many more but with a variety of toppings including asparagus, pancetta, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, prosciutto, artichoke, onions, capers, arugula, olives, etc…(not altogether mind you). You name it – they have it! Some places fold the slice over like a sandwich and I still remember the day when I first sank my teeth into a pizza al taglio and how it felt like the Coliseum crowd was roaring with approval! I still have not had a slice of pizza as good since I was that little boy and in all honesty, I can’t remember if it was at the Campo di Fiore, the Spanish Steps, or Trastevere (so maybe I don’t really remember the day?). But I will not rest until I find it, or until I make it!Roman Style Pizza - Authentic Thin Crust and Pizza al Taglio from Paggi Pazzo

Today, I’m sharing my take on Roman style thin and al taglio pizza recipes that my mother made growing up, and still makes today (go mom!). The thin crust features pancetta (a favorite of the capital) and porcini mushrooms, while the pizza al taglio flourishes with zucchini, prosciutto cotto, and cherry tomatoes. It’s important to keep in mind that with a thin crust (and we’re talkin’ almost cracker thin), thin toppings are essential – less is more my friends, less is more – especially if you plan on adding this mortadella! I begin making a Roman style thin crust pizza by poking the dough in a circular motion with plenty of flour then stretching and using a dough roller for several minutes until it is so thin the dough starts to think it’s anorexic (ok, maybe that wasn’t PC but you know what I’m trying to say). I used to buy dough at a local market because it’s fresh and doesn’t include any unhealthy oils or ingredients but now make my own homemade dough. Dress your pizza stone very lightly with olive oil and lay the dough down (brick oven wood fires are the true Roman way for a thin crust but if you don’t own one, try this on your grill). From there add your sauce but not too much, remember it’s a thin crust so you don’t want to overload, then add chopped fresh mozzarella, very thin slices of pancetta and topped off with chopped porcini mushrooms. One interesting thing about Roman thin crust pizza is that it’s usually cooked at a very high heat and for a shorter time, which makes sense with the thinner crust.Authentic Thin Crust Roman Style Pizza from Paggi Pazzo

For the Roman pizza al taglio we want the dough to be thicker and the biggest difference between the two pizzas (beyond the crust) is that the pizza al taglio is baked in a long cooking sheet or pan rather than a pizza stone and in a gas or electric oven rather than a wood-fire brick oven. I’m adding sliced fresh mozzarella rather than chopped and very thin slices of zucchini, thin sliced prosciutto cotto, and cherry tomatoes slit in half. I’m not adding the prosciutto cotto until a few minutes before removing the pizza from the oven so we don’t burn the ham. Remember, we’re trying to keep it classy here at Paggi Pazzo.Roman Style Pizza - Pizza al Taglio from Paggi Pazzo

Most pizza recipes from the Eternal City do not feature heavy meats or toppings like you would find here in the States (i.e. meatballs, pepperoni, etc…). But vegetables, cheeses, prosciutto, or pancetta are very common, so feel free to experiment. I was also able to make both pizzas with only one 16 ounce dough, with the majority being used for the pizza al taglio proving you don’t need much my friends. So there you have it, Roman style pizza from Paggi Pazzo and unofficially, Gladiator approved!

(Both recipes combined are below but for specific pizza recipes from this post, click on the following):
Roman Thin Crust Pizza Recipe
Homemade Roman Thin Crust Pizza Dough Recipe
Roman Pizza al Taglio Recipe

Roman Style Pizza Recipes

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 55 min

Total time: 1 hour 15 min

Yield: 16 slices


  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 4 tablespoons Moretti Semolina flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper
  • 6 thin slices pancetta
  • 1/4 cup porcini mushrooms
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto cotto
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 12 cherry tomatoes

Cooking Directions

  1. In order to make the sauce, add oil to pan at medium heat for 2 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and 2 chopped basil leaves for 3 minutes
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper
  4. Let cook for 30 minutes at low heat
  5. Preheat oven to 500 degrees for authentic Roman thin crust pizza
  6. While sauce is slowly cooking, add flour to top and bottom of dough and then cut 1/3 of dough (click here for homemade Roman pizza dough recipe)
  7. Take 1/3 of dough and begin to poke and stretch dough slowly to flatten out, then use dough roller on both sides repeatedly to get extremely thin
  8. Add very light amount of olive oil dressed on stone followed by one ounce of semolina flour spread across
  9. Add dough onto pizza stone and dress very lightly with 1/3 of tomato sauce (10-12 ounces) and 1 finely chopped basil leaf
  10. Add 3 ounces of chopped fresh mozzarella (not sliced) on top of sauce, then thin sliced pancetta and chopped porcini mushrooms
  11. Put thin crust pizza into oven and cook for 10-12 minutes (pizza will cook fast so keep an eye on it :-))
  12. Flour and roll remaining dough for pizza al taglio but not nearly as thin, and place into rectangular cooking sheet pan already with 3 tablespoons of Moretti semolina flour spread throughout
  13. Add remaining sauce to dough with 1 finely chopped basil leaf and remaining fresh mozzarella (sliced)
  14. Finely slice zucchini and place on 1/2 of pizza, on the other half cut cherry tomatoes in half and place on the other 1/2 of pizza
  15. Once thin crust pizza is finished cooking slice into 6 pieces and devour – then lower oven heat to 450 degrees, and cook pizza al taglio for 20 minutes
  16. After 20 minutes, add prosciutto cotto slices to pizza and let cook for another 5 minutes
  17. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes then cut slices and serve

Roman Style Pizza Recipes

5 out of 5
stars based on 16 ratings.

Slow Cooked Chili and Homemade Apple Pie – As All American as Ricky Bobby!

26 Oct

Slow Cooked Chili Recipe and Homemade Apple Pie</strong
Recipe by

When it comes to crock-pot cooking and baking, Mrs. Paggi Pazzo has yours truly beat hands down! So when she suggests she wants to make chili with cornbread cup cakes and homemade apple pie, I gladly concede the kitchen to her. It’s a beautiful thing to come home and smell the wonderful aroma of the chili fragrancing the kitchen as it slow cooks for hours. On top of that, we went apple picking as a family recently so making fresh apple pie with fresh ingredients is the sweet post-dinner celebration that puts a smile on everybody’s face. You really can’t get anymore American than that, can you? Even Ricky Bobby would endorse this meal and he would say it with all due respect!

The slow cooking chili process takes about 8 hours and the ingredients are mainly made up of ground beef, beans, garlic, tomatoes, chili powder and cumin. Throw them together and it’s slow cookin’ heaven! When the chili is finally done and the long wait is over, spread some shredded Taco cheese on top and let it melt before eating. My wife also makes some homemade cornbread cupcakes that are a nice addition to the chili. I’ve got one hand on the cornbread and the other with a fork digging into the chili, because I like to party! But you can substitute the cornbread for tortilla chips if you prefer something with more crunch. Either way, it’s a great meal and most likely a lot healthier than what you’d find on the Ricky Bobby Family dinner table (and without the grace).

For the apple pie dessert my wife takes 5-6 apples that she peels and cuts out the cores, chops, etc… She then adds brown sugar, flour, nutmeg, butter, cinnamon and mixes the ingredients together before adding to the pie crust bottom. It’s a good thing she likes to bake because I am not very good with desserts and if I were, I’d be 300 lbs. by now. So there you have it, an All American meal and Paggi Pazzo’s first posting of my wife’s recipes – enjoy, I know I did!

Slow cooked Chili recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Slow Cooked Chili Recipe

Prep time: 20 mins

Cook time: 8 hours

Total time: 8 hours 20 min

Yield: 10 servings


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 29 ounces diced tomatoes drained
  • 32 ounces kidney beans drained
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 onions
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup blended shredded Taco Cheese

Cooking Directions

  1. Add ground beef to a pan and cook until browned
  2. Drain grease from browned ground beef pan and add to crock pot
  3. Chop garlic and onion finely and add all ingredients into crock pot and set to low
  4. Slow cook for 8 hours while adding a sprinkle of chili powder, cumin, and pepper every 45 minutes
  5. Serve into bowl with shredded cheese and enjoy

Slow Cooked Chile Recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 5 ratings.

Homemade Apple Pie RecipeFresh Apple Pie Recipe Photo from Mrs. Paggi Pazzo

By Paggi Pazzo
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 50 min
Total time: 1 hour 20 min
Yield: 10 servings


1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
5-6 Cortland apples
Store bought pie crust
1 glass pie plate

Cooking Directions

1. Peel & cut approximately 6 large apples into wedges (removing apple cores)
2. Mix flour, sugar, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt & apples in bowl
3. Lay out pie crust over bottom of glass pie plate and place mixture on top
4. Slice butter thinly and spread out evenly across the top of the mixture
5. If desired add a bit more sugar & cinnamon for flavor (I like my pie sweet!)
6. Also add more apples if there’s room (the filling should rise above the pie plate).
7. If the apples seem watery you can also add a bit more flour for thickening
8. Add top crust over mixture
9. Secure edges together with a fork & cut little slits into the top of the pie to let air circulate
10. Set oven to 375 degrees and cook for 50 minutes or until pie crust is brown
11. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and then ready to serve (a la mode is best!)

Orecchiette alla Barese – Southern Italian Puglia Pasta Dish from the Boot!

20 Oct

Orecchiette alla Barese Recipe
Recipe by

A fun, easy, and hearty meal that my mother made quite often growing up was Orecchiette alla Barese, which is originated from the southern city of Bari within the region of Puglia (when looking at a map of Italy, Puglia is the area where the heel of the boot resides). This classic dish includes their local pasta orecchiette, which translates in English to “little ears”, mixed with rapini (broccoli rabe), sausage and garlic. I have modified this dish and incorporated white wine and Pecorino Romano to take away some of the sharpness from the rapini while preserving some tradition for one of Puglia’s finest dishes.

For my Orecchiette alla Barese, I boil the rapini for about 15 minutes with salt added prior to dilute the bitterness. I also prefer to grill/cook Italian sweet sausages separately (you can use hot for a spicier flavor) before adding to the sauce to limit the amount of grease or fat. Once those steps are completed, add finely chopped garlic and olive oil to a pan and let simmer for about 3-5 minutes. Once the garlic appears to turn a shade of brown, add the rapini and stir for 10-15 minutes at low-to-medium heat. Then add white wine and the sausages (chopped into pieces) and cover pan for another 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, boil the pasta and get your grated Pecorino Romano ready. Drain the orecchiette and add to the rapini sauce with a healthy helping of grated Romano – then you’re ready to be one with Puglia. More traditional recipes of this dish call for anchovy or peperoncino as I’m sure someone from that area would suggest my take on this is more Roman (shocker!). But the essence of this classic is the rapini and orecchiette, giving it that Puglia panache like an Antonio Cassano goal for his home town Bari team!

Southern wines from Puglia and Sicily have been getting a lot more recognition over the last 10 years (and it’s about time!) and one in particular, Primitivo is a Puglia based red wine that will go delightfully with the orecchiette. Now, the classic text book tradition is to have a white wine with a white pasta but this red is good enough to break that pasta segregation mentality (that’s going to be my political slogan for when I run for office). If white is your choice, try the Sicilian La Segreta, very light and a great partner for a variety of pastas. So there you have it, southern Italian pasta from the heel of the Italian boot, it’ll kick you in the junk and you’ll love every bite of it.

Orecchiette alla Barese from Paggi Pazzo

Orecchiette alla Barese Recipe

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1/2 pound orecchiette
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages (or hot)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch rapini (broccoli rabe)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Cooking Directions

  1. Boil rapini for 15 minutes in boiling water with salt then drain, chop and move to bowl
  2. Grill sausages (or broil) until outside is crispy and cut into slices
  3. Add olive oil to pan and add garlic at medium-to-high heat for 3-5 minutes
  4. Add rapini to pan with salt and pepper and saute for 10-15 minute at low heat, then add sausage and white wine, stir and then cover with lid
  5. In another pot, boil water and add orecchiette and cook for 12 minutes or until al dente
  6. Drain orecchiette from pot and add to pan of sausage and rapini then add Pecorino Romano
  7. Ready to serve

Orecchiette alla Barese Recipe

4 out of 5
stars based on 20 ratings.

Texas Style Smoked Beef Brisket & Margaritas – Go Big or Go Home!

13 Oct

Texas Style Smoked Barbecue Beef Brisket Recipe
Recipe by

Long holiday weekends are perfect for catching up on yard work and then spoiling yourself with smoked Texas style beef brisket (isn’t that what everyone does???). The boys down south know a thing or two about smoking beef and when they say “go big or go home” (as one Texas friend I know likes to boast), the translation is we’re gonna smoke a 10 pound beast of meat and declare – “don’t Mess with Texas!In a not so Texas fashion, I used a 3-1/2 pound brisket because I felt that smoking beef for 9-10 hours was about as long as I could manage (clearly I wouldn’t last very long in Dallas). Today I’m sharing my smoked beef brisket and margarita recipe, providing a Tex-Mex flavor down, around, and just over the border because here at Paggi Pazzo, we’re always looking for a brand new fiesta in the making. Smoking Texas Style Beef Brisket Recipe from Paggi Pazzo

To get a good brisket, it’s important to see a butcher and have the beef cut specifically to your liking (I went to my local super market). Now, you can get the real big-@ss Texas sized briskets that are 7+ pounds but those can take 15-18 hours to smoke so I chose to grab something half that size because….well, at some point I was going to want to eat it – right?!?!? Like with ribs, I try to create a spicy rub of paprika and chili powder that I off-set with a sweet “mop” dressing consisting of apple vinegar cider, Budweiser, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. I also throw in some dried rosemary and onion powder for my rub/mop to give it a little something extra, so feel free to do the same and experiment with your own.

I like to start real early in the morning and get my firebox going with 3 chimney starters filled with lump hardwood charcoal and prior to, I soak hickory wood chunks with mesquite wood chips overnight for the smoking (and don’t get all bush league on me by using lighter fluid to start your fire! Olive oil and a paper towel will do). Try to maintain a temperature of 200-250 degrees and to do so, you’ll likely need to add both wood chunks and hardwood charcoal throughout the process and continue to mop your brisket every 45 minutes to an hour (also add a pan of water under the grates to help provide moisture during the smoking process). Many experts talk about the brisket “stalling” after about 5-6 hours, where the meat temperature does not increase and I wasn’t convinced of this but true to form, it did happen. To combat the stalling, I placed and wrapped the brisket in aluminum foil so the beef soaks in it’s own juices and tenderizes. By hour 8, the beef temperature had increased and had become even more tender (and that’s how we like it at Paggi Pazzo; keep it tender and keep it classy!). I also added some BBQ sauce in a small foil pan to slow cook with the brisket for the final hour (I don’t make my own because I’m a poser! But feel free to use your favorite BBQ sauce or showoff and make your own). After 9 hours I move the beef off the grill/smoker and let it rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing and if you have left overs, you can make smoked beef brisket sandwiches, which is what I did with some sauteed onions and peppers.Texas Style Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe from Paggi Pazzo

To go along with the smoked beef brisket, I made Mexico’s signature cocktail – the Matador! Just kidding, I don’t even know if that’s a drink – plus I think it’s Spanish, right? Anyway, I made a Margarita of course. My buddies Pete, Rob and myself are always in search for the “perfect” margarita and we’ve all tried to create them ourselves. My rendition includes the Cuervo Tradicional tequila which is great for margaritas and a much better quality than the other Cuervo products so spend a little extra and taste the difference. Don Julio is the Numero Uno tequila most Mexicans I’ve spoken with swear by, but if you have a really nice expensive bottle of tequila chances are it’s better suited for sipping like a Cognac than adding to a lime mix cocktail. I mean, you’re not gonna take a Chateau Loudenne Médoc and make Sangria out of it, are you?….Are You? SERIOUSLY???? Give me that bottle…. I also try not to use too much mix because they’re usually so over-sweetened and very fattening but the Williams & Sonoma mix is low in sugar content and offers a nice mild taste. So there you have it, Texas style smoked beef brisket with an ice cold margarita – “Remember the Alamo!” (but don’t forget the tequila).

Margarita Recipe from Paggi Pazzo, Viva Mexico!

Texas Style Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 9 hours

Total time: 10 hours

Yield: 12 servings


  • 1 (3-4 pound) Beef Brisket
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 12 ounces Budweiser beer
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 ounces bbq sauce

Cooking Directions

  1. Prepare rub by adding paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper, sugar, brown sugar, garlic powder, and rosemary into bowl and mix
  2. Add rub to beef brisket on both sides and add a little olive oil over rub. Wrap and place in refrigerator overnight
  3. Prepare mop dressing by adding beer, water, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar and onion powder and stir. Let cool in refrigerator overnight
  4. Soak hickory wood chunks and mesquite wood chips overnight, then drain before use.
  5. Prepare smoker/grill with 3 chimney starters full of hardwood lump charcoal and when turned grey, place in smoker-box with 2 hickory wood chunks and a handful of mesquite wood chips. As brisket smokes, continue to add more wood chunks and charcoal when necessary to maintain 200-225 degree temperature.
  6. Lay brisket fat side up, and close grill and smoker-box for 1 hour, then add mop dressing over brisket (continue to do so every 45 minutes to an hour).
  7. After 6 hours, place brisket fat side down into aluminum foil and wrap (this will help the meat cook throughout and tenderize).
  8. After 8 hours, add BBQ sauce into small aluminum tray and allow to heat
  9. After 8 1/2 to 9 hours, check brisket to see if internal temperature reaches 180 degrees, if so, take brisket out of grill/smoker and let sit for 30 minutes before slicing.
  10. Slice beef brisket across the grain and serve with a spoonful of BBQ sauce

Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe

4.5 out of 5
stars based on 18 ratings

Margarita Recipe
By Paggi Pazzo
Prep time: 5 min
Total time: 5 min
Yield: 1 serving


2 limes
1 shot Cuervo Tradicional Tequila or Don Julio Tequila
1/2 shot Cointreau
1/2 shot Triple Sec
1 shot Williams & Sonoma margarita mix
handful of ice
1 cocktail shaker

Cooking Directions

1. Cut thin slice of lime and cut in half then put aside
2. Slice rest of limes in half and squeeze into shaker
3. Add shot of tequila, 1/2 shot of Cointreau, 1/2 shot of Triple Sec, and 1 shot of Williams & Sonoma mix into shaker
4. Shake for 1 minute
5. Add ice to margarita glass and then and shaker mix
6. Add thin lime pieces previously cut and serve

Click here for full Beef Brisket Recipe, Perfect Margarita Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Chicken Stuffed Caprese Recipe – Stuff This and Hold the Merlot!

6 Oct

Chicken Stuffed Caprese Recipe with Penne Pasta
Recipe by

One of the earliest recipes I have emulated and catered as my own is Chicken stuffed Caprese, which is really another form or variation of Chicken/Veal Saltimbocca. When I was in high-school my friend Pete and I used to cook in an Italian-American restaurant called, Tony’s Italian Villa (now, it’s not in business anymore but I can assure you it had nothing to do with a couple of teenage high-school kids making your entrée and pizza). There I learned a lot about the Italian-American methods of cooking home-comfort meals such as chicken and veal parm, chicken piccatta, veal marsala, etc… All traditional foods that were slightly or very different from their Italian origins and with one in particular, I had a slight love affair; the Saltimbocca (and my waist-line proved it!). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve changed and modified this classic to become my own in a diced tomato sauce with garlic and penne pasta. By taking the holy trinity of Italian cooking (fresh mozzarella, basil, and tomato) I’ve put the colors of the Italian flag into a chicken fillet and embraced a meal that is the perfect remedy for a cold fall or winter evening.

The ingredients and preparation for Chicken Stuffed Caprese are easy to find and put together, and all of the seasoning takes place inside the chicken. I like to slice the chicken across into 2 thin pieces but you can also cut a pocket into the chicken or use 2 very thin chicken breast fillets as well. Whatever you choose, stack the fresh mozzarella with plum tomato slices and basil, and add a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Then place the other chicken slice on top (or if you have a pocket cut, fold the chicken over) and use toothpicks to keep the Caprese filling inside – and that’s really it! From there make your sauce and boil your pasta and when it’s all said and done, you throw it together and crack open a bottle of red! I like to enjoy a standard Italian table wine like a Montepulciano, Chianti or Sangiovese for these types of dishes but feel free to open your own favorite, just don’t make it Merlot! (not that I have anything against Merlot….except for everything! And I’ve been neglecting the French for far too long on this blog when it comes to wine and I plan on a French dish or two coming up – so hang in there my Bleu-Blanc-Rouge mes amis). There you have it, Chicken Stuffed Caprese from Paggi Pazzo, enjoy!

Chicken Stuffed Caprese with Penne Recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Chicken Stuffed Caprese Recipe

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

Total time: 1 hour

Yield: 2 servings


  • 2 (8 oz.) chicken breast fillets
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces diced tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 4 ounces crushed tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1 small carrot
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 pound penne pasta (Barilla)
  • 1/4 cup Reggiano Parmigiano
  • 8 toothpicks

Cooking Directions

  1. Chop finely garlic, onion, and 4 basil leaves (save the remaining basil for the caprese stuffing)
  2. Clean chicken and slice in half or fold in half
  3. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, then add slices of fresh mozzarella on top of the sliced chicken (or within if cut in half) and top with slices of tomato, fresh basil, and olive oil.
  4. Close chicken if cut in half or place other half of fillet on top of covered chicken and place 2 toothpicks on both ends of fillets to keep whole
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to large pan with garlic, onion, and basil. Cook at medium-to-high heat for 2-3 minutes
  6. Add diced and crushed tomatoes and carrot (washed and peeled), and lower heat
  7. In a different pan, add olive oil and chicken stuffed caprese and sear at high heat for 4-5 minutes per side to form a crispy outside
  8. Once seared on both sides, add chicken to large pan of sauce and cook for 25-30 minutes
  9. Prepare pot for pasta by adding water and salt and when boiling, add penne pasta and cook and stir for 11 minutes or until pasta is al dente
  10. Drain pasta through strainer and add pasta to sauce and chicken for 2-3 minutes, then reomve from stove
  11. Transfer to plate and add grated Reggiano Parmigiano, ready to serve

Chicken Stuffed Caprese Recipe
with Penne Pasta
5 out of 5
stars based on 9 ratings.

Linguine all’Aragosta and Spanish Style Crostini – Bringing Spain and Italy Together

29 Sep

Linguine all’Aragosta (Lobster Pasta) Recipe with Artichoke, Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Arugula Crostini
Recipe by

Linguine all’Aragosta is a signature dish from my mother’s kitchen that is very easy to make despite it’s fancy title. In fact, there are just a few ingredients needed and the most difficult part of the dish is determining whether you want to cook the lobster yourself or pick one up that has already been steamed. This recipe consists of garlic, shallot, and parsley and while you can make it richer with cream and/or sherry, I prefer the simplicity of my mother’s take on this Italian masterpiece. To go with this I’ve also prepared some Spanish style crostini with artichoke, mushroom, goat cheese, and arugula that serve as a tasty appetizer to wet your palate before the lobster pasta is ready. The crostini is also fairly simple and straightforward with the choice to either boil your artichoke before hand or, do what I do, and buy the marinated jarred artichoke. It’s a great combination of Italy meets Spain in this edition of Paggi Pazzo.

Linguine all'Aragosta recipe from Paggi Pazzo

For the Linguine all’Aragosta it’s important to remove all the lobster meat from the shells and clean the not so attractive intestines and green juices (unless you really like that stuff). Then chop all of the ingredients finely and add to a large pan with olive oil. Add the crushed tomatoes and lobster meat to the pan and slow cook the sauce for about 25-30 minutes (it’s important not to cook the sauce at a high temperature because you don’t want to make the lobster meat tough – keep it tender, and keep it classy). The crostini recipe is something that I’ve come across at almost every Tapas restaurant I venture to. My favorite one, Dali, makes a fantastic artichoke, mushroom, and goat cheese tapas that just melts in your mouth. My rendition is a little bit different because I don’t go as heavy with the mushrooms and I add arugula, which compliments the goat cheese so nicely (try adding goat cheese, arugula, tomato, and red onion to a baguette and you’ll see what I mean). I chop the artichoke and mushroom into small little chunks and add it to a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. I saute it for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat and I’m careful not to add too much artichoke juice from the marinated jar because it will overwhelm the other flavors. After that, it’s as simple as slicing a baguette or ciabatta at a wide angle to create the crostini look and then toasting. Quick and easy and pretty tasty to boot, for both recipes! But whatever you do, the only request I make – is – DO NOT, under any circumstances…..add grated cheese to your Linguine all’Aragosta! Don’t do it, it’s a sin – and the pasta police will find you, trust me on that one.

As always, I’m going to suggest a red wine for this meal and you really can’t go wrong with a Spanish Rioja or Chilean Carménère. One Rioja in particular, the Conde de Valdemar, is an absolutely delicious wine under $15 and is really fantastic! A good friend of mine whose father was from Spain introduced this wine to me and I’ve been drinking it ever since. The Carménère is a staple of Chile and is excellent with fish (sea bass anyone?), so you can’t go wrong with either. So there it is, Linguine all’Aragosta recipe with Spanish style artichoke, mushroom, goat cheese, and arugula crostini from the countries that have won the last 2 World Cups and of course, from yours truly, Paggi Pazzo. Artichoke, Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Arugula Crostini recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Linguine all’Aragosta Recipe

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 35 min
Total time: 50 min
Yield: 4 servings


  • 8 ounces crushed tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 1/2 pound linguine (Barilla)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 (1.25-1.5 lbs.) lobster
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley

Cooking Directions

  1. Buy lobster already steamed or boil pot of water and add lobster for 12-15 minutes.
  2. Once lobster is cooked, remove lobster meat from shells and pull apart into smaller pieces and place in a bowl.
  3. Chop finely garlic, shallots, and fresh parsley.
  4. In a large pan, add olive oil, shallot, garlic, and parsley and cook at medium-to-high temperature for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes and lobster meat to pan, lower heat to slow cook and cover with lid for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Add pot to stove for the pasta, when water is boiling add linguine and let cook for 7-8 minutes or until al dente.
  7. Drain pasta and add linguine to pan.
  8. Mix and stir for 2 minutes and then serve.

Linguine all’Aragosta recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 11 ratings and 1 review.

Artichoke, Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Arugula Crostini Recipe

Recipe by Paggi Pazzo

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 15 min

Total time: 20 min

Yield: 12 crostini


  • 1/4 cup marinated artichoke
  • 1/2 cup white or bella mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup arugula
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 1 baguette or ciabatta

Cooking Directions

  1. Chop marinated artichoke and mushrooms into small chunks
  2. Add olive oil to pan and let simmer at medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add artichoke and mushrooms, salt, and pepper to pan
  4. Cook for 8-10 minutes, constantly stirring until mushrooms turn dark brown
  5. Slice baguette or ciabatta at an angle to create long crostini like slices and toast for 5-8 minutes until crispy
  6. Spread goat cheese on crostini
  7. Add arugula over goat cheese and top with mushroom and artichoke
  8. Ready to serve

Click here for full Linguine all’Aragosta (Lobster Pasta) Recipe, Spanish Style Crostini Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Grilled Greek Style Chicken & Pork Kabobs – By the Beard of Zeus!

22 Sep

Grilled Greek Style Kabobs Recipe
Recipe by

Greek cuisine is some of the best in the world and grilling is a big part of their culinary culture (lamb in particular). During holidays, such as Greek Easter, grilling meat over a big open fire is common and celebrated (on the topic, my brother makes amazing grilled lamb balls filled with Feta cheese on his gas grill – but save your SNL Shwetty balls comments please). I myself wasn’t going to wait for a holiday to prepare Greek style kabobs with classic ingredients, such as Kalamata olives, lemons, Feta, mint, oregano, onions, olive oil, etc… (this is not an authentic recipe you will find in Athens so don’t go askin’ and if someone shouts at you half-dressed that this is Sparta, start runnin’!). Grilling these kabobs over a wood fire with apple and/or cherry wood illuminates a beautiful and light smokey flavor….that floats to the sky – as if I were sending signals towards the heavens, directly to Zeus and the Gods themselves. The message? I’m philosophizing about going all Olympic on some Greek style kabobs baby!Grilled Greek Style Chicken and Pork Kabobs from Paggi Pazzo

What I love about making Greek style kabobs, whether it be with chicken, pork, lamb, beef, etc…is that you can have them over rice or create a Gyro or Souvlaki, or even prepare them in a (Greek) salad. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a grandmother from the Greek Islands (my dad’s mom) and a good friend whose parents are from northern Greece. So like my appreciation for Italian food, I have a special fondness for Greek cuisine and Mediterranean dishes (throw some Spanakopita in front of me and see how long that lasts!!!). For this dish I chose chicken and pork kabobs with onions, red peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, and oregano (I prefer to separate the meat and vegetable skewers as putting them together can be difficult for even cooking over a wood charcoal fire). I use 1/2 of the tomato, pepper, and onion in the kabob and save the other half for a small vegetable salad mix with lemon, olives, and mint. Now, I’m not much of a Tzatziki sauce guy (I’m likely to get flogged in front of the Parthenon for that remark), as yogurt isn’t my thing but feel free to substitute the lemon, mint, and olive dressing for Tzatziki.Marinating grilled Greek kabobs recipe from Paggi Pazzo

For the kabobs, any number of woods over your hardwood lump charcoal will do the job but I prefer apple or cherry for chicken and pork (and rather than dress your grates with olive oil, use a 1/2 cut onion with a long grill-fork and slide it back and forth across the grates). Add the kabobs to the grill and keep a medium-to-high temperature, turning them every 4-5 minutes per side while the vegetable kabobs will likely cook faster so keep an eye on them. The remaining halves of pepper, onion, and tomato should be placed over very high-heat so that they can be roasted and eventually peeled and seeded. I like a Gyro like dinner for my kabobs so I threw some flatbread (or pita bread) on the grill for about 1-2 minutes a side to give it a slight crispy flavor, but not too crispy that you can’t fold it. Once your kabobs are ready and off the grill, peel and de-seed the 1/2 red pepper and tomato and chop (along with the onions and mushrooms) and place into a bowl. Then squeeze over with lemon, add olive oil, very fine chopped mint, chopped olives, and mix together. In another bowl, add Feta, oregano, pepper and a little olive oil (most Greeks would have me sacrificed off a mountain in Crete for suggesting to crumble up the Feta, but this acts as a nice topping to the kabobs). Put it all together with the kabobs over the flatbread, topped with the vegetable and Feta dressings, add another squeeze of lemon and a few extra olives – and BAM! “By the Beard of ZEUS” (or any other frequently used expressions), you have Greek heaven! If you have a lot of disposable income, feel free to smash some plates in true Greek style (I’ve already broken enough things in my kitchen and disposable income is a foreign language to me – and you thought I was gonna say Greek, didn’t you?).

I’m always a fan of suggesting wine (especially red) and the Greeks have some very tasty wines. One wine in particular, Tsantali Makedonakis, is a red that is fruitful and smooth and goes well with meats and pastas (I first tried it at a nearby Greek restaurant called the Aegean but could not pronounce it for the life of me! So I pointed at it on the menu like my daughter does when she wants a toy, “dat-dat-dat”!!). Greek wines can be hard to find but most places will carry a few if you ask. If Greek wine isn’t your style, try their national beer – Mythos! So there you have it, a little bit of Greece for your grill, compliments of Paggi Pazzo – OOMPA!

Grilled Greek Style Kabobs Recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Grilled Greek Style Kabobs Recipe

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 25 min

Total time: 45 min

Yield: 8 servings


  • (2) 8 ounce pork chops or chicken breasts
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 white or red onion
  • 1 beef tomato
  • 8 large mushrooms
  • 2 lemons
  • 2/3 pound Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 pound Feta cheese
  • 2 tablesoons mint
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dry oregano
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Cooking Directions

  1. Cut pork or chicken into kabob chunks
  2. Cut onion, pepper, and tomato in half (leave 1 half whole) and cut into square chunks for kabobs and trim off mushroom stems
  3. Place pork and vegetables onto skewers
  4. Season both with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, and oregano
  5. Crumble Feta into a bowl with olive oil, oregano, pepper and then mix
  6. If using charcoal grill, ignite chimney starter with paper towel dressed in olive oil to start hardwood lump charcoal fire and place wood on top once fire is ready (apple or cherry recommended but oak and mesquite will work as well)
  7. Place down grates and rub 1/2 onion across grates, put kabob skewers on grill and turn every 5 minutes. Then place remaining vegetables over high-heat of grill for charring
  8. When kabobs are almost done, place flatbread for 2-3 minutes a side on low heat of grill
  9. Remove food from grill then peel, de-seed and chop remaining 1/2 red pepper and tomato
  10. Chop peeled pepper and tomato, onion, Kalamata olives, mint, and put into bowl with olive oil and squeeze of 1/2 lemon (no seeds) then mix
  11. Take kabobs off skewers and place 1 serving onto a piece of flatbread, covered with a tablespoon of vegetable, lemon and mint topping, and a teaspoon of Feta and oregano dressing
  12. Add extra Kalamata olives, squeeze of lemon and sprinkled mint for additional flavor
  13. Sit back, open your mouth, and be one with the Gods!

Grilled Style Greek Kabobs Recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 8 ratings.

Click here for the Chicken Kabobs (Greek Style) Recipe, or the Pork Kabobs (Greek Style) Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina – Renassaince This for a Taste of Enlightenment!

16 Sep

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe
Recipe by

Among the many jewels in the beautiful city of Florence, such as the statue of David, the Uffizi and Accademia galleries, the Giotto Bell Tower, the Jersey Shore cast recently, Il Duomo, Fontana del Nettuno, Ponte Vecchio, Roberto Baggio (he’s not actually from there but he did electrify the F.C. Fiorentina fans playing for their beloved “La Viola” in the late 80’s prior to starring in the 1990 World Cup)… the one signature dish that deserves it’s own statue is the Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florence style steak). Surprisingly to most, the Tuscan’s graze some of the best beef in all of Europe, produced from the Chiana Valley area of the region. The beef even has it’s own name; Chianina beef, do you have a name for your beef? I didn’t think so!

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina recipe from Paggi Pazzo

I remember my last time in Florence (I’ve actually only been to Florence once, but it just sounds cool when I can say the last time I was in blah, blah, blah…), I wasn’t aware of the great popularity and pride the Florentine’s took in their steak. One evening I ordered Firenze’s finest and requested it to be served as the locals do. Thankfully, the waitress noticed my accent (and how I was butchering her language) and in perfect American English, suggested I have my Bistecca alla Fiorentina cooked a little longer. Even after that recommendation, the dish came to my table and was fairly bloody by American steak standards. However, the tenderness and seasoning of the beef was incredible! So outstanding, I wanted to scream like the dude from SteelHeart!

The preparation for Bistecca alla Fiorentina is quite simple but finding the right beef can be challenging. If you have a local butcher, inquire about Chianina beef and while it’s not likely they will have it, it’s worth asking (only recently has Chianina beef been raised in the US). If not, find a thick Porterhouse cut and by thick I mean REAL thick, like at least 2 inches thick! Once you have your steak, do as the Florentine’s do and other expert steakhouses, and air dry your steak before grilling by not allowing the bottom of the steak to rest (I used 2 bbq skewers to prop the steak above a plate). This will prevent some of the juices from exiting the beef and I would do this a few hours before grilling (be sure to allow the steak to be at room temperature before grilling as well for even cooking).

To really enjoy your Bistecca alla Fiorentina, get your charcoal grill smokin’ hot! I prefer to use hardwood lump charcoal and a handful of mesquite wood chips for a slightly smokey flavor (I also soak a few more for after the wood charcoal is in the grill pit). Most Tuscan’s season the beef with a lot of salt and pepper after the steak has seared and turned over on the grill but I prefer to season just before, with a very light covering of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put the steak on (with a forklift) and sear for about 5-7 minutes on each side. After, move the steak to a medium heat zone of the grill and not a cool zone, you want the steaks to continue to cook for another 5 minutes per side (this method that I’m suggesting would be considered blasphemy in Florence as they prefer the meat very rare, and I do prefer a rare steak but for a flavorful medium rare taste, cook it a little longer). Once the steaks are tender and ready, remove from the grill and sit for 5 minutes. The Florentine way is then to lightly dress the steaks with balsamic vinegar and lemon wedges before slicing to serve.

Since we’re talking about Florence and Tuscany, it’s essential to have a glass of Chianti to join your Bistecca alla Fiorentina, as some of the best vineyards in the world are from that region. I happened to have a bottle of Barolo on hand (guilty….) and it was a savory compliment to the beef but if you have the opportunity, find a nice Chianti Reserva, Super Tuscan, or Brunello di Montalcino and enjoy the blessings of Tuscany. So raise your glasses (and bottles)….here’s to Florence, the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Da Vinci, Donatello, Botticelli, Dante, the mayor of Florence for trying to prevent the Jersey Shore cast from entering their city, and of course, Bistecca alla Fiorentina! Forza Firenze!

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina from Paggi Pazzo

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 25 min

Total time: 1 hour 25 min

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 porterhouse steak (2+ lbs.)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • splash balsamic vinegar

Cooking Directions

  1. Air dry porterhouse steak a few hours before grilling by not allowing bottom of steak to rest on plate and keep at room temperature 30 minutes before grilling (1 hour if removing from the refrigerator)
  2. Start chimney starter full of hardwood lump charcoal and some mesquite wood chips by using a match to paper towel dressed with olive oil under starter
  3. Allow wood charcoal to turn grey and dump into grill pit with soaked mesquite wood chips
  4. Raise fire pit tray under grates (but not at highest level) for best searing
  5. Just before adding steak to grill, lightly dress with olive oil, salt and pepper on both sides
  6. Place steak on grate over hottest zone of grill and sear 5-7 minutes on each side
  7. Move steak to less heat but still over coals on grill and cook for another 5 minutes per side
  8. Remove steak from grill and cool for 5 minutes before serving
  9. Slice steak meat away from bone and dress with balsamic vinegar
  10. Ready to serve

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 17 ratings.

Click here for full Florence Style Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Authentic Bucatini all’Amatriciana – Romans, Lend Me Your Pork!

9 Sep

Authentic Roman Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe, the Classic Eternal City Dish
Recipe by

Romans….lend me your pork!” This is it! The bomb! The master pasta mother-load! In my world, there is no other pasta than Bucatini all’Amatriciana (except for maybe Pasta alla Carbonara). This classic dish from the Eternal city was first presented to my lips when I was just a boy and we would spend time in Rome over the summer months (don’t worry, this isn’t gonna be one of those Dr. Evil, summers in Rangoon stories….) but I’ll never forget the first time I was old enough to appreciate it and I looked at my mom and practically yelled

, “HOLY….what is this?!?!?!?” Of course, having Bucatini all’Amatriciana from it’s birthplace is a lot different than having it anywhere else and I have grown to truly appreciate all of it’s ingredients, the preparation and the diligence to make it all come together (I’m totally exaggerating this by the way, it’s not that hard but I just wanted to build up some drama for my favorite pasta dish). The name of the dish was originated in the town of Amatrice within the region of Lazio, where Rome resides and the greatest soccer team ever is hailed, S.S. LAZIO and the other team of the city A.S. Roma is a bunch of imposters and frauds led by their captain-diva Francesco Totti (I am totally objective about this too by the way). Ok…I’m getting away from the story a little bit…
Authentic Roman Bucatini all'Amatriciana recipe from Paggi Pazzo

The true Bucatini all’Amatriciana, like many other Roman favorites, includes guanciale (a cured pork) and pork in general is a favorite of the Italian capital. However, guanciale can be difficult to find here in the States and you may only come across it in Italian specialty stores (aka “Salumeria”) and markets. Because of this, pancetta is the best and closest substitute for guanciale, but make sure it’s Italian pancetta as many imitations don’t provide the same flavor or texture. Also, don’t settle for another long pasta like spaghetti or linguine (and certainly not fettuccine). If you can find it, buy the bucatini as it’s thickness allows the sauce to enter the pasta through it’s hallowed center at the ends and the ingredients hang on well to the pasta itself. However, unlike many Italian dishes, there is no garlic in this pasta. I know, I know you’re saying….”what you talkin’ about Willis?” but the truth is, this slightly spicy recipe gets it’s flavors from a hardy helping of onions, peppers, guanciale/pancetta, and Pecorino Romano, hey – it’s a Roman dish, of course we’re using Pecorino – where’s your head?!?!?! You know the saying, “when in Rome….“.

When preparing Bucatini all’Amatriciana, buy 1 thick cut (1/4 of a pound) of guanciale or pancetta and cut into chunks and leave some of the fatty parts on as they provide a great deal of flavor to the sauce. I usually trim some of the fat off for my wife since she finds it aesthetically unappealing, but definitely leave some on because you don’t want to lose that flavor (trust me!). The sauce itself is a sweet and yet spicy mixture of onions and tomatoes coming together with peperoncino (hot dry Italian pepper and if you can’t find one, a habanero chili pepper will work as well), some chili pepper flakes, and Pecorino Romano that you actually add into the sauce while it’s cooking (I know, cooky-crazy hunh? Oh those Romans…..MAXIMUS!!!). In all honesty, I’m not one for “hot” and “spicy” dishes as most Italian sauces are fairly mild with the exception of Arrabiata and Fra Diavalo, but this one fits nicely between mild and hot and provides enough tanginess that it just melts in your mouth!

When it comes to selecting a Vino Rosso for this meal – I like to go with the big boys! Obviously I don’t have the luxury of splurging to buy a bottle of Barolo or Brunello for every meal (though I wish I did!), but in this instance I would absolutely say, “live a little”. I think the Brunello actually tastes better with the Bucatini all’Amatriciana but you can’t go wrong with the Barolo either. The local flavor is the delightful Cesanese from the Lazio region but when can you go wrong with a Brunello or Barolo? Anyone???? Yeah, that’s what I thought. So here it is below, my personal favorite – from Paggi Pazzo, “are you not entertained?!?!?!!”. Buon Appetito!

Authentic Roman Bucatini all'Amatriciana Sauce with pancetta, onions, peperoncino, and Pecorino Romano

Authentic Roman Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 45 min

Yield: 6 servings


  • 12 ounces peeled tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 1/2 pound bucatini (Barilla)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 peperoncino (dry Italian pepper) or dry habiniero pepper if peperoncino is not available
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 pound guanciale or pancetta
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Cooking Directions

  1. Cut guanciale or pancetta into small thin chunks and cut onion into thin slices.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to small pan at medium to high heat.
  3. Add guanciale (pancetta) to pan with peperoncino and cook for 5-8 minutes or until pork begins to brown (I prefer to leave the peporoncino whole so I can remove it after the sauce is done but you can cut it into small pieces).
  4. In a different large pan, add teaspoon of oil and sliced onion and cook until onions begin to caramelize.
  5. Once pork is browned, add guanciale (pancetta) with peperoncino, peeled tomatoes, salt, pepper, and pinch of red pepper flakes to pan of onions and turn down heat to low-medium (do not transfer grease from the pan).
  6. After 10 minutes of sauce marinating/cooking, add a generous handful of grated Pecorino Romano into sauce.
  7. Begin to heat pasta pot of water with pinch of salt under high heat.
  8. Add bucatini when water begins to boil and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente.
  9. Drain pasta and add to pan of sauce and remaining 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano.
  10. Stir for several minutes, salivate, crack open a bottle of Brunello or Barolo and then get ready to be overwhelmed with flavor!

Bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 23 ratings.

Click here for full Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Smoked Barbecue Pork Ribs (& Focaccia Style Garlic Bread)

31 Aug

Smoked Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs Recipe
Recipe by

One of the great American past times and excuses to get together for a few adult beverages is smoking meat. It is the definition of relaxing and taking it easy, especially on a warm summer day (or frigid winter afternoon as I have done in the past, but hey – I don’t discriminate against Mother Nature my friends) where you can kick back and have a few cold ones to make the time pass. It also allows people like myself to use my smoker-box (which is attached to my charcoal grill) and take advantage of an American tradition of slow cooking that few other countries celebrate like we do here in the great U-S-of-A! But there are other traditions to consider, such as males occasionally wearing USA lettered thongs in the work place (not something I would do or suggest – but I’m just sayin’!).

The "Beast", aka 'Locomotive Smoker Grill" in action, smoking ribs all day long!

The Beast is fired up and smoking ribs, just how we like it!

When it comes to pork ribs or smoking of any kind, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m no expert, but I am an enthusiast who loves to try and smoke just about anything (on the grill that is people!!! I’m a parent now). Whether it be pork loin, pork roast, whole chickens, beef ribs, etc… I’ll give it a shot, but my favorite without a doubt is pork spare ribs. I like to let them smoke for about 5-6 hours using hickory and apple wood and just easin’ back on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I keep trying until I get it right, or until it tastes good enough that I can’t wait to do it again!

When preparing your ribs make sure to wash them thoroughly and remove the membrane from underneath the bones across the rack (I would show you a photo of that but I’m trying to encourage hunger, not nausea). Once the ribs are ready, I prepare my rub of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, espresso, salt, black pepper, and dried thyme (you can buy a dry rub if you like but make sure it’s specific for pork). Mix all the ingredients together and then spread it generously on both sides of the ribs and rubbing into the pork. I always do this the night before to allow the rub to really sink into the meat.

To start the smoker, I use 2 chimney starters of hardwood lump charcoal and once the wood charcoal is grey, dump them into the smoker-box and add a few wood chunks and chips that have soaked over night (you might need to add more wood charcoal as the cooking progresses and you don’t want to put too many wood chunks and chips in the beginning because too much smoke will dry out the ribs quickly). Now, finally – it’s time to put the ribs on the grill! I put the ribs bone side down with a pan of water underneath the grates. Under the water, I’ve placed bricks in the grill pit, wrapped in foil to help absorb heat in the grill, while the water provides moisture for the ribs.

Smoking Pork Ribs over the grill - Paggi Pazzo

Maintain a temperature of 225 to 250 degrees and for the first few hours, it’s a good idea to refrain from opening your smoker-box or grill and letting the heat/smoke exit. To preserve the tenderness of the ribs, it’s important to add a “mop” to the ribs (dressing) so I like to add honey bbq sauce into a small foil pan and place on the grill. Every 30 minutes after the 3rd hour of smoking, I lather the ribs with the honey bbq sauce alternating sides (close to the 5th hour of smoking, you can also throw some corn wrapped in aluminum foil into the smoker-box for about 30 minutes – the corn comes out very succulent this way and my 2-year old loves it). Most experts, depending on the style of ribs will use an apple cider and vinegar mop during the smoking process but I like to off-set my spicy rub with a bbq sauce flavor. After about 5-6 hours, check the ribs to make sure they’re tender and use a meat thermometer to check the pork’s temperature. If the temp says 165 degrees, then you know it’s time to eat!

To go with this I’ve made Focaccia style garlic bread with fresh rosemary, basil, garlic cloves, olive oil, Reggiano Parmigiano and Pecorino Romano over fresh Ciabatta bread (you can use a French baguette as well).
Focaccia style Garlic Bread
Normally I might prepare some margarita’s for smoked pork ribs but there’s no replacing an ice cold beer on a hot day so crack open a Corona to go with those bad boys because you’ve earned it!

Finished smoked pork ribs from Paggi Pazzo

Smoked Barbecue Pork Ribs Recipe

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 5 hours

Total time: 6 hours

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 Rack of Pork Spare Ribs
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayanne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon espresso
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 ounces honey bbq sauce

Cooking Directions

  1. Clean pork spare ribs by removing membrane and washing under sink.
  2. Mix all rub ingredients together within bowl (paprika, cayenne, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, espresso, and brown sugar) and generously pour and rub into ribs on both sides.
  3. Cover ribs in wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.
  4. Soak hickory and apple wood chunks overnight, then drain before use.
  5. Prepare smoker/grill with 2 chimney starters full of hardwood lump charcoal and when turned grey, place in smoker-box with some wood chunks. As ribs smoke, continue to add more wood chunks periodically.
  6. Lay pork ribs onto grill bone side down, and close grill and smoker-box for several hours maintaining a temperature of 225 to 250 degrees.
  7. After 3 hours, dress pork ribs with honey bbq sauce, alternating sides every 30 minutes.
  8. After 5-6 hours, when ribs are tender and at or near 165 degrees, take off grill and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into strips.
  9. Take remaining bbq sauce from pan and dress over ribs.
  10. Ready to serve.

Smoked Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs recipe

4 out of 5
stars based on 20 ratings.

Focaccia Style Garlic Bread

Easy recipe for focaccia style garlic bread with fresh rosemary, basil, garlic, olive oil and grated cheese from Paggi Pazzo.

Simple focaccia style garlic bread with fresh ingredients.

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Total time: 15 mins

Yield: 16 slices


  • 1 loaf of ciabatta bread or French baguette
  • 4 small garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Pecorino Romano
  • 1 tablespoon Reggiano Parmigiano

Cooking Directions

  1. Slice ciabatta bread length wise and then cut into 4 large pieces.
  2. Lightly add olive oil to all 4 pieces.
  3. Chop garlic cloves, fresh basil and rosemary into very fine pieces.
  4. Spread garlic, basil, and rosemary across 4 ciabatta bread and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Grate Reggiano Parmigiano and Pecorino Romano over bread.
  6. Put over charcoal grill (low heat) for 5-7 minutes or place in bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.
  7. Cut into thin strips and serve.

Click here for full Smoked BBQ Pork Ribs Recipe or the Focaccia Garlic Bread Recipe, and all other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Pasta Aglio e Olio and Rosemary Pork Chops

31 Aug

Pasta Agli e Olio and Rosemary Garlic Pork Chops Recipe

Recipe by

Perhaps the easiest pasta recipe will you ever make, Pasta Aglio e Olio is so simple and basic it will take you no time to prepare and leave you quite satisfied! Even Ron Burgandy and Brian Fantana agree, “60% of the time it works every time!“! I have been enjoying this dish for as far back as I can remember and it is a very common traditional Italian recipe from North to South with a few different ingredients added or removed throughout the regions but many consider this to be a Roman creation (what didn’t they create?). Some prefer to add peperoncino (and by that I mean the dry Italian pepper, not the banana bell-pepper, which I do enjoy from time to time by the way….) but the Roman way (how my mother made it) and how I grew up knowing it – which was straight to the point without any distractions and included these simple items; spaghetti (or linguine), garlic, salt, black pepper, olive oil, grated cheese – and that’s it. Oh and by the way, it tastes great! Along with this pasta I’m preparing some Rosemary Pork Chops with Spinach but you can certainly make the Pasta Aglio e Olio by itself as your meal. I prefer to accompany a basic spaghetti dish like this with some protein, but that’s just me and we don’t judge here at Paggi Pazzo.

Pasta Aglio e Olio recipe from Paggi Pazzo

I like to sear the pork chops on the stove or on the grill for a few minutes but soon after I move the pan of pork (lid covered and added with rosemary, spinach, and other ingredients) into the oven for 25 minutes. You can do this on the grill by covering the pan and closing the grill but it’s probably easier to make this dish indoors – but by all means – experiment on the grill and make sure you keep a high heat and refrain from burning the pork or using any nice pots and pans (a little thought-out advice there for ya’). By covering the pan and placing it in the oven to bake, it blends all the flavors together, especially the rosemary and garlic, which are slowly absorbed into the pork. I know you’re probably thinking, “that’s a lot of garlic dude for one meal!” But hey, it’s good for you and besides, it’s an Italian dish. And of course (drum roll please……), I’m going to suggest some Vino! Most experts always suggest a white pasta with a white wine, but I say who cares! Grab that red wine bottle and start chuggin’!!! However, if you WERE going to try a white wine, I would recommend an Orvieto or Pinot Grigio (I’m sticking with the Italian theme here). I prefer the Orvieto not just because it’s a very reasonably priced wine, but it’s got a nice crisp taste to it that isn’t too sweet and will go nicely with the rosemary pork and garlic flavors. The recipe is below and hopefully for you, 60% of the time…..well, you know the rest. From Paggi Pazzo, “la cena è servita!”

Rosemary and Garlic Pork Chops recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Pasta Aglio e Olio Recipe

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 10 min

Total time: 15 min

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1/2 pound spaghett or linguine (Barilla)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 handful Reggiano Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano

Cooking Directions

  1. Place water into pasta pot and wait to boil (do not add salt to water)
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to pan and let heat for 2 minutes
  3. Chop garlic cloves finely and add to pan with salt and pepper
  4. Once garlic begins to brown, move pan to a safe/cool zone on oven
  5. When pasta pot water is boiling, add 1/2 pound of spaghetti
  6. Cook spaghetti for 9 minutes or until al dente
  7. Drain pasta through strainer and add garlic oil in pan, remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, handful of Reggiano Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano, and fresh parsely to pot with pasta and stir firmly for several minutes.
  8. Add to pasta bowl or plate and go to town!

Rosemary Pork Chops Recipe

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

Total time: 30 min

Yield: 2 servings


  • (2) 8 ounce pork chops
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 lemon
  • splash white wine

Cooking Directions

  1. Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil to pan and let heat for 2 minutes
  2. Chop garlic clove and rosemary very finely.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Lightly season pork on both sides with salt and pepper and at high heat, place pork on pan for 2-3 minutes on each side until seared.
  5. Once seared, drain excess fat and add chopped garlic clove, salt, pepper, rosemary, splash of white wine, teaspoon of olive oil, 1/2 lemon squeezed (no seeds), and spinach to pan and cover.
  6. Place in oven and let cook for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool done for several minutes.
  7. Place pork and spinach on plate and feast!

Pasta Aglio e Olio and Rosemary Pork recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 19 ratings.

Click here for full Linguine Aglio e Olio Recipe or the Pan Seared Pork Chops with Rosemary Recipe, and all other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Pasta Primavera con Polpette

28 Aug

Pasta Primavera con Polpette Recipe
Recipe by

When I need to make a quick pasta and I’ve got some left over ground beef, because….well who doesn’t have left over ground beef? I like to throw together, what I’ve self-proclaimed Pasta Primavera con Polpette, which can sometimes be whatever vegetables I have left in the fridge with whatever short pasta is in my pantry. By no means is this a “specialty dish” but it’s easy to throw together (perhaps not as easy as Pasta Aglio e Olio) and it’s a hardy pasta with healthy ingredients that your family will enjoy. As always, I’m going to suggest vino with this (shocker!!!) and any red table wine is a nice compliment to this dish, such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (that’s a shout-out to all of my Abruzzi amici…hip-hop Ah-bruzz-ohhh, hey, ho…. that’s how they roll down there). So here it is from Paggi Pazzo – Buon Appetito!

Pasta Primavera con Polpette

Pasta Primavera con Polpette

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1/2 pound cellentani pasta
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 whole basil leaves
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 8 ounce crushed tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 zucchini (medium size)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • teaspoon milk
  • teaspoon Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Reggiano Parmigiano

Cooking Directions

  1. Chop 1 clove of garlic, 2 basil leaves, 1/4 of onion for polpette.
  2. Prepare polpette in a bowl by mixing ground beef with chopped garlic, onion, basil and add pinch of salt and pepper, teaspoon of milk and breadcrumbs (when I have the time I make my own but you can use pre-made) and mix together with hands.
  3. Create little “meat balls” but press down to create more oval shape and place on cooking tray and into pre-heated oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
  4. Chop remaining garlic, basil, and onion while slicing cherry tomatoes in halves and zucchini into thin slices.
  5. Begin to make primavera sauce in a large pan with olive oil, remaining chopped garlic and onion.
  6. Prepare pasta pot and add pinch of salt to water.
  7. Once garlic and onions begin to melt into the oil, add crushed tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bay leaves and chopped basil, salt and pepper, and cook sauce at a low heat.
  8. After 15 minutes, add cooked polpette into the sauce and stir gently.
  9. When pot of water is boiling and cellentani (you can also use a variety of short pasta if you’d prefer).
  10. After 4 minutes of boiling water, add zucchini to pot of pasta and stir. Continue to stir until 10-11 minutes when pasta is “al dente”.
  11. Strain pot of pasta and zucchini and move to sauce.
  12. Stir all ingredients together and add grate Reggiano Parmigiano generously over pasta.
  13. Place into pasta bowl and devour!

Pasta Primavera con Polpette Recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 16 ratings.

Grilled Argentinian Chimichurri Steak

27 Aug

Grilled Argentinian Chimichurri Steak Recipe over a Wood Charcoal Fire

Recipe by

When it comes to preparing sauces or dressings, I really enjoy making chimichurri for my Argentinian style steak on the grill. The beautiful country of Argentina is one of my favorite cultures when it comes to food and wine and “los albicelestes” (which have eerily similar soccer colors to my favorite Calcio Italiano Team, LAZIO!!!) know a few things about chimichurri, beef, and wine. The cuisine in Argentina is influenced by many European cultures, such as the Italians, French, Spanish, etc… and while all of those contributions have brought a unique taste to their dishes, there are few countries that can hold a candle to Argentina when it comes to grilling, or as they like to call it, “Asado“! One of my favorite restaurants to find great Argentinian food, Tango, offers great empanadas, fantastic steak that is cooked on a grill brought from Argentina (impressive!), and great Malbec’s and Mendoza’s to join them. But what really stood out for me, and what Argentinians cannot do without – was the chimchurri on every table that I continuously smothered on every piece of bread, steak, and if there was any left for dessert I would’ve done smothered that too….or…maybe not. Chimichurri is an Argentinian dressing that is often dressed on meat (more often used while the meat cooks or after is cooked). I however love to use it as a marinade not only on beef but also chicken and pork, and….well, just about anything.

Grilling Argentinian Style Chimichurri Steak

Below I’m sharing with you my chimichurri recipe that I have prepared over a dozen times, tweaking ingredients, changing amounts, etc… and it wasn’t until maybe the 5th time that I felt I finally had it right! One of the most important items to go along with the chimichurri is the beef! Make sure you have a fine piece of steak as the quality of meat is extremely important (I’m very fortunate that my mother-in-law buys me quality Kinnealey Steaks I can grill all summer long), so if you have the time seek out a butcher who will offer you better quality cuts. One Argentine friend suggests short beef ribs as his choice of meat – hard to argue with that! It’s also important to make the chimichurri ahead of time and allow it to marinate in the fridge for at least a day before using. I’ve tried it in less time before and it loses something so don’t make the same mistake I did the first time. Also, use lump-charcoal wood if you’re cooking on a charcoal grill and use very few wood hickory chips for a slight and additional smoky flavor. I’d also suggest getting yourself a nice glass of Malbec as it really assists the beef and chimichurri. If you have a Cabernet Sauvignon around that will be a nice compliment too but I’d strongly suggest the Malbec. While you’re at it, if you have an Argentinian soccer shirt with the #10 Maradonna or Messi on the back, throw it on and feel that South American ambiance all around your grill….or maybe you’re just seeing me trying to steal the food off your grill? Either way, you’ll (we’ll) have a great time, Vamos La Albiceleste!!!

Grilled Argentinian Chimichurri Steak

Argentinian Chimichurri Steak Recipe

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 25 min
Total time: 55 min

Yield: 2 steak servings


  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red peppers
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • (2) 8 ounce strip steaks (or skirt, flank, top-loin, or short beef ribs)
  • 1/2 small onion

Cooking Directions

  1. Chop the fresh leaf parsley, garlic cloves, scallions, shallot, yellow pepper (seeded), bay leaves, and oregano into very fine pieces (or use food processor to pulse and chop all ingredients together).
  2. Add into a bowl or jar, all of the chopped ingredients (parsley, garlic, scallions, shallot, yellow pepper, and oregano) with the salt, olive oil, white wine vinegar, hot water, paprika, cumin, and crushed red peppers.
  3. Stir well for 5 minutes and allow liquids and ingredients to gel together.
  4. Store in refrigerator (covered and sealed) for 1 day and when ready to be served, allow to stay at room temperature for at least one hour.
  5. Prepare charcoal grill: Add lump hard wood charcoal to chimney starter with paper towel brushed with olive oil.
  6. Light olive oiled paper towel under chimney starter to start fire.
  7. Once charcoal is a nice grey color, remove charcoals from chimney into grill and add (very few) hickory wood chips.
  8. Place grates back on grill and use long grill fork to oil up grates with 1/2 onion, back and forth.
  9. Add (2) 8 ounce steaks to grill, already lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.
  10. Once steak is seared, turn steaks over and lightly dress/brush the steak with the chimichurri sauce (make sure to have a separate bowl for the marinade put on the grill and a bowl for after the steak is done).
  11. After steak is seared and medium well (or dependent on how you like it), turn steak over again and move to lighter heat or safe zone and add another dressing/brush of chimichurri to the other side of the steak.
  12. Let sit for an additional minute, and take off grill.
  13. Allow steaks 5 minutes to cool down before cutting and once ready to serve, add another spoonful of chimichurri over steaks.
  14. Ready to serve!

Argentinian style steak with chimichurri recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 25 ratings.

Click here for full Argentinian Chimichurri Steak Recipe and Chimichurri Recipe or all other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

La Pizza Margherita

26 Aug

La Pizza Margherita Recipe, the classic “Napoletana” dish!
Recipe by

La Pizza Margherita is the classic and quintessential dish of Napoli, Italia and as the locals will tell you there, no one in the world makes better pizza (although my Roman family would beg to differ and likely find a way to get some pancetta on there too). What is so fantastic about this pizza is how simple and basic it is but at the same time how delicious the few ingredients blend together. Less is more and in this case, rather than stuff your pizza with a 1,000 toppings and dilute the taste of each, the few included burst with flavor!

The recipe for La Pizza Margherita (you have to say it with the “la”, for no other reason than to lift your hands in the air and press your index finger to your thumb and wave them like you’ve been red carded in a soccer match at the San Siro in Milan) is actually very simple and will take you no time. You can cook the pizza either on the grill or in the oven. I find it easier to cook the pizza in the oven and a little bit faster than firing up my charcoal grill – although my brother loves to make pizza on his gas grill, so either way can work and it’s up to you and your available time. I also find it necessary to have a bottle of red (preferably Italian in this case) to help me through the process. A nice table wine of Sangiovese or Chianti is a typical accompaniment to this pizza. So here it is from Paggi Pazzo, “in bocca al lupo!

La Pizza Margherita

La Pizza Margherita

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 slices


  • Home made Napoletana dough recipe
  • 12 ounces crushed tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 16 ounce fresh dough
  • handful of flour
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Cooking Directions

  1. In order to make the sauce, add oil to pan at medium heat for 2 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and 2 chopped basil leaves for 3 minutes
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper
  4. Let cook for 30 minutes at low heat
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  6. While sauce is slowly cooking, add flour to top and bottom of dough
  7. Begin to poke and stretch dough slowly to flatten out
  8. Take dough roller and spread dough out to a fine thin spread
  9. Lightly brush pizza stone with olive oil
  10. Once dough is nice and flat, put dough onto pizza stone
  11. Add sauce to pizza dough
  12. Slice fresh mozzarella and spread across pizza
  13. Add 2 basil leaves cut in 1/2 across pizza
  14. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until cheese is slightly browned and crust is crunchy
  15. Take pizza out and add remaining basil leaves whole
  16. Ready to serve!

La Pizza Margherita Recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 27 ratings.

Click here for full Neapolitan Pizza Margherita Recipe and all other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Paella on the Grill (and Sangria on the side)

19 Aug

Grilling Paella over a Charcoal Wood Fire
Recipe by

One of my favorite things in the summer time to cook on the grill is paella. This Spanish dish is a classic from southern Spain that has been repeated, imitated, and replicated a million times over, everywhere in the world. What I love about grilling paella is the benefit of cooking it over a wood-fire charcoal grill. The smell that illuminates from the wood really accentuates the meats, fish, and dish itself. One of the things though I would recommend before trying this at home is to get a large paella pan or iron skillet because the heat from the wood fire could damage your nice kitchen pots and pans and we don’t want that to happen. Along with the paella, it is essential to have a nice jug of Sangria to accompany it. The Spanish had it right when it came to good eats and drinks and one day I plan on traveling over to the Iberian nation to get the real stuff. But for now, I’ll just keep trying to emulate our Spanish brothers/sisters. Below is my recipe for grilled paella, how to prepare it, and what ingredients you will need. ENJOY and Salud!

Grilled paella over a wood charcoal fire

Grilling paella over a wood fire on a charcoal grill.

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 10 servings


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch each salt and pepper
  • 1 vidalia onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 of a cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/3 of a cup green peas
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4 chicken legs
  • 3 chorizo
  • 14 mussels
  • 10 littleneck clams
  • 24 small shrimp
  • 3 cups Arborio or Arroz a la Valenciana (rice)
  • 3/4 cup Marques de Caceres Rioja Blanco (white wine)
  • 6 cups Chicken Stock

Cooking Directions

  1. Prepare grill with hard lump charcoal wood within a fire starter and use 2 pieces of oak and/or hickory.
  2. Chop garlic, onions, red pepper, parsley, and tomato finely.
  3. De-vein and skin shrimp and wash all clams prior to cooking.
  4. If using frozen green peas, be sure to thaw prior to cooking.
  5. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cut chicken breasts both across and sideways to create 4 halves.
  6. Add saffron to small cup of hot water
  7. Place large skillet or paella pan over the fire when lump-charcoal wood has turned a nice grey and dumped into the charcoal bottom pan (make sure to have a safe zone on the grill to move meats, seafood, and cooking pan if fire becomes too hot).
  8. Add olive oil to pan and allow to simmer
  9. Add garlic, onion, and peppers to pan.
  10. Add parsley and tomato once the garlic, onions, and peppers begin to carmolize for about 5 minutes.
  11. On the other side of the grill, begin to cook the chicken and chorizo over high heat, searing the outside for 3-4 minutes on each side. Once ready, remove from grill and cut chorizo into 1/3 inch pieces.
  12. Begin to add arborio or arroz a la Valenciana for 2 minutes to saute.
  13. Add Marques de Caceres Rioja Blanco and stir, until dish begins to boil.
  14. Add saffron and chicken stock, until dish begins to boil (10-12 minutes).
  15. On other side of grill, begin to cook shrimp, clams, and mussels. Only allow clams and mussels to open slightly before taking off grill.
  16. Add chicken and chorizo to pan.
  17. Add all seafood to pan and stir (add more chicken stock or water if dish begins to become dry and/or move pan to a safe zone on your grill) for 3 minutes.
  18. Add green peas and salt and pepper.
  19. Ready to serve!

Grilled Paella Recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 81 ratings.


Enjoy a cold sangria with your grilled paella!

Viva España! - Mas sangria!

By Paggi Pazzo
Published: August 9, 2011
Cool taste of Sangria with Paella off the grill

Prep time 10 min
Total time 10 min:
Yield: 1 pitcher (12 servings)


Thinly-sliced lemon: 1
Thinly-sliced lime: 1
Thinly-sliced apple: 1
Thinly-sliced nectarine: 1
Sugar: 1 teaspoon
Brandy: 1 shot
Marques De Caceres Rioja (red wine): 1 bottle
Lemon Soda or Ginger Ale: 1/2 liter
Orange juice: a splash


1. Chop all fruits into small pieces and add to pitcher.
2. Add sugar, brandy, orange juice, and wine. Stir for several minutes.
3. For best results, allow wine, fruit, brandy, and sugar to sit and marinate in refrigerator overnight. However, if time is not available, add lemon soda/ginger ale to pitcher and enjoy!

Click here for full Grilled Paella Recipe or Spanish Sangria Recipe, and all other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

What’s on the Grill?

21 Jun

Paggi Pazzo

What am I gonna do with all of this (grilled) paella???

paella over a wood fire grill

Outdoor grilling with paella over a wood fire

There are few things I like to do more than cook/grill and provide good eats for my family and friends. In fact, I’m not so sure there is anything better….maybe some cocktails to go along with those eats? Now we’re talking! I plan on bringing to you easy and for the most part, healthy recipes that feature fresh ingredients that will make your mouth water.

I’ll be adding more and more blog posts as time allows, featuring recipes that include traditional Roman dishes from my own mother’s cucina, videos, images, and posts of smoking and grilling some of my favorite beef, pork, seafood, and chicken recipes.

I’m pretty much doing this to get rich….errrr…. not exactly, but because I have a passion for cooking and grilling, it puts smiles on my family’s faces (especially my 2-year old who loves corn off the grill). Plus my friends love to come by and hang out having a few drinks while the smoker slowly cooks pork spare ribs for 5 plus hours or so.

Stay tuned…..and stay classy San Diego

Paggi Pazzo Grilling and Cucina recipes

5 out of 5
stars based on 13 ratings and 1 reviews
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