One of six children born and raised in Baton Rouge, S. Gary Polozola grew up with an appreciation of his faith, family and food all wrapped in a Sicilian tradition.
In the years before his recent retirement from practicing immigration law, Polozola, younger brother to the late District Judge Frank Polozola, began researching his ancestry, which he said now numbers over 65,000 relatives dating to the 1200s.
Along the way, Polozola said he amassed a large trove of family photographs, documents and recipes.
Reviewing the recipes, he noted the most common thread was that the dishes were not very complicated, and they all "stuffed something" — an eggplant, a noodle, a steak or seafood.
"Just about anything that could hold a filling," he said. "Even dessert."
Culling through the hundreds of family recipes, Polozola, who now lives in Texas, selected the ones he liked the most and "How to Stuff in Italian" was born.
His cookbook, $21.95, is available at checkout.square.site/buy/ABCL5ML4AVAG5WBC73LQK5AT.
He shared a couple of his favorite recipes.
Makes 8 servings.
8 fresh artichokes
3 medium white onions
3 small garlic heads
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 medium white potatoes
1 pound salt meat or ham
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 ounces Romano cheese, diced
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Finely chop onions and garlic in food processor. Cube the next three ingredients.
2. Combine the chopped and cubed ingredients with the cheeses, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Set this stuffing mix aside.
3. Clip the points off the artichoke leaves with kitchen scissors. Cut the stem off flat with the surface. Pull the leaves back all the way to the heart.
4. Beginning with the outer-most layer of leaves, push the stuffing mix inside each leaf with the thumb. Continue until each leaf is packed except the area nearest the heart.
5. In a pot, place a rack and enough water to cover the rack and the artichoke hearts. Add salt and olive oil to water. Place the artichokes on the rack in a single row. Cover. Simmer until heart is tender, about one hour.
Stuffed Bell Peppers With Shrimp
12 medium green bell peppers, seeded and cut in half
2 cups yellow onions, finely chopped
2 cups celery, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 pound cooked shrimp, coarsely chopped
1 loaf French bread, cut into coarse cubes
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Romano cheese, grated
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper
1 egg, beaten
1. Parboil the peppers and set aside.
2. Saute next three ingredients in a pan until soft. Soak bread in water for several minutes. Squeeze excess water out. Add the bread to the sauteed vegetables for about 10 minutes until the bread begins to dry and brown.
3. Add chopped shrimp, salt and red pepper to the sauteed ingredients. Cook for five minutes. Set aside.
4. Break the egg into a separate container with one tablespoon of Romano cheese. Add to the mixture.
5. Stuff each half of the bell peppers with the mixture and top with breadcrumbs and remainder of Romano cheese.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the peppers are tender.