GARLIC KNOTS, AN EASY FUN ALTERNATIVE TO GARLIC BREAD
Tonight's blogpost will be about as
vague as I've ever gotten with a recipe. It's something that most pizzerias in the country (or is it only
an East Coast menu offering? please comment on this) offer to make some cash off of the bits
and pieces of extra pizza dough they have . They can be an awesome little bit of baked dough with
some garlic, grated cheese, parsley and olive oil on them, or they can be hard nasty over garlicked
(yes, dear blogreader...there can be too much garlic in a dish, especially when it's used raw). So
here is my take on the Pizzeria classic, GARLIC KNOTS.
First, since we are talking about pizzerias, let me give you my most sentimental ones...first is the
always awesome Joe and Pats in Staten Island.
That's a picture taken from the Staten Island Advance of Joe Pappalardo holding his signa-
ture pie...I believe Food Network was filming there that day. Many slices were bought there
by me as a child (and still as an adult) while waiting for the bus (the 112) after my Monday
afternoon piano lessons at Peter Paratore's School of Music 2 blocks away. Seriously,
the long bus ride and afterschool lessons, especially in the cruel Winter months was always
made better by a hot steamy very thin crust slice made by Maestro Pappalardo back in those
late 1960's. Every time I go in, I recall all the pizzas and lasagne and zucchini fries my wife
and I, and my late parents would have there. In fact, whenever we have to go up to Staten Is.
for an unfortunate wake, we always hit Joe and Pats..then everything is right again.
Next comes Denino's in what once was a Little Italy of sorts of Italian Restaurants starting
at St.Roch's Church
along what is now known as Port Richmond Avenue...of course, St.Roch's was a founded as an
Italian National parish in the early 1920's for the large immigrant enclave from the areas around
Caserta and Campania. Some of the eateries between St.Roch's and maybe 4 blocks or so north were
Denino's (still is), Teresa and Mimmo, Pino's and Piazza's Bakery, LaRosa's Bakery, Venetian Gardens,
Gene's (my father-in-law's favorite), Casa Nova (where my Grandma Battaglia's repast was held after
her burial),Ralph's Ice (original and still main location), Zinicola's Bakery on the corner of Hooker Pl and
Richmond Ave (now Melone's), Lido Italian Deli..so you see, it definitely was a high concentration of
pizza and garlic. Denino's still produces awesome pies, and here down the shore they have a new
location in Brick...always packed.
And my third sentimental favorite is Maruca's Tomato Pies, originally from Trenton, NJ, and on the
boardwalk in Seaside Heights/Seaside Park NJ for over 50 years. Those who know me on Facebook
know very well how often we dine at that place. This pic taken on New Years Day, 2012.
Our first meal of the year was a Maruca's Pie. Doesn't get much better than that.
Later with the fine pizza at home.
Truly a Happy New Year!
But, for those of you who think I'm missing other "best " pizzas or who like other places better, this is
not a post about "WHAT'S THE BEST PIZZA?". I'm merely telling you what my favorite AND most
sentimental pizzerias are..and very glad they are all still in existence.
Besides Pizza, what do they all have in common? Garlic knots. It's what a thrifty Pizzaiolo does with
bits of dough.. And, I made pizza yesterday, 2 of them...one Margherita...and one with Speck, Onions,
Mozzarella, San Marzanos and Pesto...delicious. There was some pizza dough left over, but, no one
including me wanted pizza again, so, being that it is Sunday, I made a typical Italian-American
Sunday Sauce with San Marzanos (organic ones this time), meatballs and sausage and rigatoni.
That bit of dough became Garlic knots, they take no time at all really and are somewhat fun to make.
I had enough pizza dough to make a total of 12 knots..nice, a dozen! With your already risen or
bought pizza dough, first preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Now separate that dough into 2 inch
balls, roll each one out to about 3 inches then tie them into a knot and lay them on a baking sheet.
Leave the knots on top of the stove to proof up a little more for 20 minutes with the heat from
the oven providing the warming. Grind a little black pepper over the tops. Then on the middle
rack of your oven bake them for 15 minutes, give or take, you know your oven. They shoud be
golden brown with a nice browned bottom and sound hollow when you tap them. While they
are cooling, whisk, in a large stainless steel bowl, 2 tbs. of finely minced parsley, ONE finely
minced clove of raw garlic (please, resist more garlic, and resist garlic powder here), a pinch
of kosher salt and 2 tbs. of olive oil. Now add all the knots to the bowl and keep coating them
using a wooden spoon. Make sure you have shut off your oven right after you removed them and
determined that they are done because you are going to place them back into the warm oven for
about 10 minutes. This serves a few purposes, one of them is to mellow the raw garlic and to let
the oil soak into the knots without them being overly greasy. Lastly, remove the knots and
toss in 1 tbs of grated Pecorino and coat well. Let them sit for 5 minutes and then serve...adjust
the amounts of other ingredients if you are making more knots...so , there you have it..a little
vague on the actual amounts, but the dish is not "precise"..it's a wonderful Italian-American
dish that does what so much of Italian cooking always does, turns a little into a lot..and there
never is any waste.