Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions Sandwich

I remember I was watching “The Soprano’s” (HBO hit show) one evening when Tony “told” Carmella…” Hey Carmella fry some peppers for me huh?”

I read where Frank Sinatra used to fry peppers in his dressing room before going on stage.

When I was on TV on channel 10 in Phoenix, Italian ladies used to call me and tell me how they fry peppers, one even exclaimed, “I fry peppers every day Rick!”

When you go to Aiello’s Restaurant, the first thing they put on your table even before you order anything is peppers in hot oil!

My mom used to fry peppers at least once a week!  Italians love fried peppers!

Growing up, one of my favorite dishes was (and still is) Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions on a Hoagie Roll.  Especially at the Italian Street Fairs and Festivals, and the County Fair’s there was always a truck with the aroma of sweet peppers, onions and Italian Sausage wafting through the air.  How could you resist that?

I like to make this dish a couple of times a month, and I want you to know there is a secret my mother taught me that makes a big difference. I’ll tell you what it is as we get into the recipe.



            Italian Sausage

Either mild or hot.  Do not choose sweet.  I bought a pack of sweet Italian sausage from Wall Mart once and there were no fennel seeds in the sausage, no fennel means no flavor, and no fennel means it’s not Italian.  I buy the Johnsonville mild Italian Sausage.  One pack has 5 sausage links.


1 can of marinara sauce, this time I forgot to buy the sauce, but I found a can of peeled plum tomatoes in the pantry, worked out fine!


                        Sweet Bell Peppers

At my supermarket (Frys) they come in a pack of 3, orange, yellow and red.  Add one Green Bell Pepper. Now you have 4.


                        One large Onion

This time I used a Vidalia, red onions are also sweet, but I think any large onion will be fine.



                                    4 or 5 cloves (or more) peeled, I smash them.


                        Olive Oil

                                    Extra Virgin, I used Pompeii brand, it’s the best.


Slice the peppers and onion into strips as shown


In a large frying pan, add about ¼ inch of water and place the 5 sausage links inside and cover.  Let steam for 10 minutes.


Remove the sausage and place aside.  Drain water from pan and add olive oil.  It’s hard for me to tell you how much because I just squirt a bunch in from a squeeze bottle, but it’s probably about a ¼ of an inch in the pan.


Throw in the smashed garlic, fry, but not long, don’t burn the garlic it will turn bitter.  Then I  throw in the peppers and onions and tilt a cover on the pan to allow the steam to escape, to keep the oil from splattering on the stove as it fries on medium heat. You got to stir them around from time to time.


You have to reduce the peppers and onion strips until they are lucid and totally cooked. 


Now here’s the secret, you have to almost burn the peppers, until they are burnt, not totally black, but until most of them get browned.  This brings out the sweetness.


Add the tomato sauce or tomatoes, and let it reduce with the peppers and onions, this would be probably another 10 or 15 minutes.


Then throw in the sausage, mix it all up and let it cook for another 10 or 15 minutes. I spooned on some grated  fresh imported Parmesan cheese. 




By this time there shouldn’t be any liquid left from the tomatoes and it ready to scoop out onto a hoagie roll with the sausage!  













Rick's Chicken and Pasta

This is my favorite pasta dish and it is so easy to make!

Being rushed all the time while working, I needed to come up with a delicious Sunday Italian dinner, but it had to be fast and easy.

Before I give you the recipe, I have a warning!  If you don't use the ingredients I suggest (demand) it won't be good.  I know, I've told some of my friends about this dish and they substituted, and it did not come out good.

So here's the three ingredients you must use to make it awesome, if you substitute for these it won't be delicious, and probably be watery and bland.  

One:  You absolutely must MUST use Prego Traditional Italian Sauce.  It is the only one that works with this dish.  It is thick enough and sweet enough, that when it combines with the chicken's juices, it comes out perfectly.  Did I say Ragu? -No! Hunts?  No...PREGO is the only one that works! Am I getting paid from Prego to say this?  Absolutely not. It is just the only one that works.  

Two:  Imported Pecorino Romano cheese, from Italy, you can find it now in any supermarket.  No, not Kraft parmesan in the green can, OMG No!  The imported Pecorino Romano adds to the unique flavor.

And three:  I absolutely believe you need to use the chicken hind quarters, if you can find them.  (Chicken legs attached to the  thighs as seen in the picture below)  If you can't find those, Legs and thighs work fine, but the bone must be in.  No bone - no flavor.  We tried it once with boneless chicken breasts - and the meat was dry.

Alright so here goes.


4 chicken hind quarters  ( (legs and thighs attached, with skin)

One large bottle of PREGO TRADITIONAL ITALIAN SAUCE  (that's what it says on the label) 

Grated imported Pecorino Romano cheese

4 or 5 cloves of garlic, peeled of course, I like to smash them.

fresh basil leaves 

1 lb (box) of Rigatoni Pasta (or your favorite)

Arrange the chicken in a roast pan, salt and pepper, pour Prego Traditional Italian Sauce over the top of the chicken.

Grate some of the Pecorino Romano cheese on top, throw in the garlic cloves, and basil.

Cover, place in oven at 350 degrees.  About an hour and a half.  In the last 15 minutes or so, bring a pot of water to boil salted to the taste of sea water, and throw in your favorite pasta.  I love Rigatoni with this dish, but you can use any kind.


I pulled this out at about an hour and 35 minutes, I tested it with a fork to make sure it was cooked and tender.

Spoon out the oil.

Place chicken on serving dish.  When pasta is au dente - drain splash with cold water and place in bowl, spoon some of the sauce from the pan onto the pasta. Serve Pasta, Chicken and Sauce in separate dishes (family style).   









Sprinkle Pecorino Romano cheese on pasta and chicken, more individually if you like, and I also like to add some crushed red pepper flakes.

It's that simple and Awesome!  Mangia!

Let me know how it turns out!













Broccoli and Shells!


This recipe  first appeared in the cookbook What's
Cookin' in Arizona
in 1973, featuring Arizona celebs favorite dishes.

This dish was a staple in my family while I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. It's what I like to call simple, Italian peasant food, but oh so tasty!

A couple of warnings!  One, olive oil is not just any olive oil, you  must use "extra virgin" I only use "Pompeian!"  It has the best flavor.

Also, the pecorino romano cheese must be imported from Italy, I only use the one from Costco.

I modified the recipe to use just one cup of chicken broth, and maybe a little more olive oil.