Rao’s Famous Italian Recipes

Frank Pellegrino Jr., co-owner of New York’s famed Italian restaurant institution Rao’s, came by Access Hollywood Live to show Billy and Kit some of his favorite recipes that create a great family dinner night.

Rao’s Uncle Vincent’s Lemon Chicken

Total Time: 55 min
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 45 min
Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) broiling chickens, halved
  • Lemon sauce, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Lemon Sauce:

  • 2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk together juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Whisk or shake vigorously before using.

Chicken: Preheat broiler at least 15 minutes prior to using. Broil chicken halves, turning once, for about 30 minutes or until skin is golden-brown and juices run clear when bird is pierced with a fork. Remove chicken from broiler, leaving broiler on. Using a very sharp knife, cut each 1/2 into about 6 pieces (leg, thigh, wing, 3 small breast pieces). Place chicken on a baking sheet (that will fit in the broiler) with sides. Pour lemon sauce over the chicken and toss to coat well. If necessary, divide sauce in 1/2 and do this in 2 batches. Return chicken to broiler and broil for 3 minutes. Turn each piece and broil for an additional minute. Remove from broiler and portion the chicken onto each of 6 warm serving plates. Pour sauce into a heavy saucepan. Stir in parsley and place over high heat for 1 minute. Pour an equal amount of sauce over each chicken and serve with lots of crusty bread to absorb the sauce.

Rao’s Meatballs

(Makes 28)

  • 1 pound ground lean beef
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 small garlic clove, peeled and minced, optional
  • 2 cups Bread Crumbs
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fine-quality olive oil

Combine beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, blend ingredients together. Blend Bread Crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add water, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is quite moist.

Shape meat mixture into balls (we usually make large, 2 ½ - to 3-inch balls).

Heat oil in a large sauté pan. When oil is very hot but not smoking, fry meatballs in batches. When bottom half of meatball is very brown and slightly crisp turn and cook top half. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.

Lower cooked meatballs into simmering Marinara Sauce or Sunday Gravy and cook for 15 minutes. Serve over pasta or on their own.

NOTE: In place of Bread Crumbs, you can use stale Italian bread, white part only, that has been lightly soaked in lukewarm water.

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