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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Try old-school Italian recipe

With the moniker Creole Cajun Chef, many people think that my cooking is limited to South Louisiana style cooking. For the most part, this is true because many cultures have made South Louisiana cuisine a melting pot. I also enjoy experimenting with new flavors. I, like everyone else, started using Sriracha in place of traditional hot sauce. Lately, I have started to play with Asian flavors, like Hoisin Sauce, Fresh Ginger, Sesame Oil to name a few.

Today, I wanted to return to my roots. I have Italian blood from both sides of my family and enjoy cooking Italian food often. I found two recipes from my website that, to me, define old school Italian cooking, Bruccoloni and Manicotti. Here are my interpretations of these classics.

When I first started posting recipes on my website in 2011, I started asking for suggestions.This is one of the first recipes requested. A friend from high school was looking for this old school Italian recipe. I found it among my mother’s recipes. This dish is a great Sunday evening meal.


2 beef top round steaks, ¼ inch thick

1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs

2 eggs, slightly beaten

4 large garlic cloves, minced

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

Creole seasoning

½ Cup olive oil

Pasta sauce

Cooked pasta

Grated Parmesan cheese

Place steaks on a cutting board, trim fat from edges. Pound steaks to 1/8 inch thick, taking care not to tear. Preheat oven to 375 ℉. In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, beaten eggs, garlic and cheese. Spread mixture over steaks, leaving a 1-inch border at long edges. Scatter onions and boiled eggs over breadcrumb mixture. Beginning at long edges, roll tightly, like a jelly roll. Tie securely with butcher’s string. Sprinkle Creole Seasoning over rolls. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet 12” skillet over medium heat. Add steak rolls, one at a time and brown on both sides. Place browned rolls in a 13×9” baking dish. Pour Pasta Sauce over top of meat rolls. Bake in preheated oven until the meat is fork tender, about 45 minutes. To serve, remove string and slice 1/2” thick slices. Serve with pasta topping meat and pasta with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Manicotti, which translates from Italian to little sleeve in English, is a pasta tube. It is often stuffed with a ground meat mixture and baked with tomato sauce and cheese. The recipe that follows is a twist on that tradition by using shrimp. You may use either a tomato based sauce or a Alfredo type sauce to complete this dish.

Shrimp Manicotti

2 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined

Salted water to boil noodles

1/2 cup canola oil

1 box manicotti noddles

1 pound Mozzarella cheese, cubed

1 pound Colby cheese, cubed

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Panko Italian breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons garlic, minced and lightly sautéed

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

2 eggs

Creole seasoning to taste

16 ounces of your favorite pasta sauce (It can be white or red)

Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 ℉.

Heat water and oil to a boil in a large pot. Drop noodles into boiling water one at a time. Boil until done, drain, and rinse well. Mix together the remaining ingredients, except the pasta sauce, and carefully stuff into the noodles. Place the noodles in a single layer in a glass baking dish and cover with pasta sauce and cheese. Cover and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Whether you are using a pre-made sauce or making one from scratch, these Old School Italian dishes will please even the pickiest eater. This is comfort food at its best. Ciao!

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