RECIPES: Locanda Verde's Andrew Carmellini

Peel the red onions and discard the skin. Cut the onions width-wise into ½-inch slices. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat pan. Add the onions and cook them, stirring occasionally, until they just begin to soften but do not caramelize (about 2 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the olive oil and the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and set the pan aside.

To finish the sandwich, reheat the oven to 250 F. When the pork has cooled, slice it as thinly as possible and pile the slices into 4 stacks on a baking sheet, being sure to leave space in between each stack. Cut the rolls in half and place center-side down on a baking tray. Bake in the oven 2 minutes until toasty. You could alternately, just toast them in a toaster or a toaster oven. Top each stack with 2 tablespoons of the balsamic onions and 2 slices of cheese. Bake the pork stacks in the oven until the cheese has completely melted, about 1-2 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from the oven. Using a spatula, pick up a stack and place it on the bottom half of a bun. Spread 1 teaspoon of chili paste or harissa on the top side of the bun then top the sandwich with it. Cut the sandwich in half with a serrated knife. Repeat for each of the remaining stacks. Serve the sandwiches warm with a green salad.

Sheep's Milk Ricotta

Super-fast and super-easy, about 10 minutes to put the cheese together, plus bread-grilling time

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 cups Sardinian sheep's milk ricotta (if you can't find this, use regular cow's milk ricotta)

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon fleur de sel or course sea salt

1 teaspoon course-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon dried oregano, on the branch if possible (I use Calabrian or Sicilian)

2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions:

Beat the ricotta and the milk together until the mixture is light and fluffy, using a KitchenAid with the paddle attachment if you've got one, or a whisk and a medium-sized bowl if you don't. Add the table salt and mix well.

Place the mixture in a serving bowl. Sprinkle the fleur de sel, pepper, thyme, and oregano generously across the top.

Top with the olive oil, which will settle on and around the cheese. Serve with a board full of Grilled Country Bread.

Grilled Country Bread

Super-quick; 20 minutes from preheating the grill to serving.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 loaf Italian bread (ciabatta or semolina)

About 1 tablespoon of olive oil per slice of bread, with extra for bigger loaves

Salt and pepper for sprinkling

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Instructions:

Preheat your grill to the highest setting, or put your oven on broil and set the rack on the highest level.

Cut the bread into inch-thick slices. Drizzle both sides of each slice with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill the bread (on the grill on under the broiler) until its charcoal-colored on the edges. Turn it and do the same on the other side.

Pull the bread off the grill and rub it on both sides with a fresh garlic clove. Serve warm.

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