Italian Hillbilly

So that wild hair never showed up, imagine that? Kids are at school and I just doctored up my photos, thanks to the Hubbs showing me how to touch them up in Adobe Photoshop.

I believe I have mentioned before that I consider myself and Italian Hillbilly. See I was born and raised (mostly) in the mountains of West Virginia (we lived 10 miles north of the capital, Charleston, till I was 14 years old). My mother and all her people are completely from West Virginia, even farther up in the mountains going back generations upon generations (of which I need to research just how many generations it truly is).  So the hillbilly gene is definitely there.

Here are some pictures I just recently obtained when going down for Grandma Short’s funeral.

These are great great grandparents Isacc and Prudence Boone.Boone-GreatGmaGpa

These are great grandparents Pete and Annie ShortShort-GmaGpa

These are great great grandparents Bourne (not sure of first names, never saw this picture before)


These are great grandparents Chaney and Macy Boone.


Now my father is full blooded Italian. My grandpop Mussano was born here in PA in 1911, but Noni born August 2, 1919 in Roccadaspide, Italy to the late Francesco and Maria Carmela (Scovotti) Brenca, Rosa lived in Leechburg since 1947. She came over after my Grandpop met her while he was stationed there during WWII.

Here are a few pictures of the Mussano/ Brenca side of the family.

These are great grandparents Brenca (Noni’s mom and dad).


This the the Mussano clan (my grandfather is the 2nd from the left).


Now that you know the history you understand where I get my Italian Hillbilly tendencies. In honor of this self proclaimed title I made these two dishes the other night. They were a hit. I hope you like them too!

Brasciole (No -red sauce)

  • 4-6 thin slices of steak
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted was all I had)
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 Tbsp each of granulated garlic, season salt, ground pepper, dry oregano,dry parsley
  • 2 Tbsp each butter and EVOO

preheat oven 350 degrees

First in shallow dish (I use a pie plate) mix AP flour and spices. Then dredge both side of your pieces of meat in this mixture.


P1040778Then roll it up, as tight as you can and stick a tooth pick through so it stays closed.

P1040779P1040780While you are dredging you can be heating up your skillet with 2 Tbsp of butter and EVOO in it.

P1040781When your skillet is nice and hot put in your brasciole and brown on all sides


While these are browning, open up your can of diced tomatoes and chop up your onion. Place these on bottom of your casserole dish.

When brasciole are brown on all sides place on top of your tomato and onions.

P1040785Your meat will not be cooked through just browned off. Now cover with foil and lets move on to the tators.

Grandma Short’s scalloped potatoes


  • 2-4 baking potatoes, washed, and sliced thin (I used a knife this time)
  • 1 onion sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups grated cheese (I used Colby cheese)
  • S&P to taste
  • 2-4 Tbsp of left over flour from meat dredge

Butter your casserole dish well.

P1040788slice up your tators and onions

P1040786P1040787Place layer of tators on bottom of casserole then layer of onions and repeat till you are at top of dish.

P1040789Now work on your gravy, by first reheating the leftover oil from brasciole (see the hillbilly in me says don’t waste anything, well that was Noni’s mantra as well, guess it’s just the poor folk gene coming out). Then start adding in a Tbsp at a time the flour you dredged the meat in, whisking as you go.


Once all the oil is absorbed by the flour (meaning it doesn’t look greasy but pasty) slowly pour in milk and then cream (or just use a 2 cup measure with both in it like I do), remember still keep whisking.

P1040792Do ya like my new flat whisk? I do, found it at bargain outlet, it is a Paula Deen whisk, woo hoo I was excited! The kids thought I was nuts!

Now add in 2 cups of the cheese.

P1040793Mix till all cheese is melted, then turn off heat.

Pour this mixture slowly over tators and onions.

P1040794And finally add last cup of cheese on top, cover with aluminum foil and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes then uncover and cook another 10-15 minutes till top is brown.

P1040795Now I strongly urge you to put this on a cookie sheet, because if you have my luck then it will bubble over and cause the smoke alarm to go off and your house to be smokey.

The brasciole can cook with the tators in oven for 45 minutes, when you uncover the tators, just take out the brasciole and leave on stove top till tators are done.


Options: You can add dash or two of cayenne to milk cheese mixture if you like spice in tators; mix up the spices you dredge the brasciole in cumin, chili powder, would be nice too; you can serve brasciole over pasta or rice if you like; pair tators with anything; add a salad if you feel it’s missing something green or some green beans.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rachel
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 02:36:12

    That looks GOOD. I can’t claim Italian and hillbilly – I’m just garden variety hillbilly (ok, well, Irish and hillbilly – with a dash of German). But there’s a strong Italian influence all through our hills, ya know. I believe that’s where pepperoni bread probably came from – coal miners needed something nonperishable to take down in the mines. But I need to fact check myself before I go tellin’ people that. 🙂


  2. Rachel
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 02:51:33

    The pepperoni roll orginated in Fairmont, WV – the creation of Guiseppe “Joseph” Argiro.

    Now I’ll stop hijacking your blog. 🙂 But I thought you would enjoy this little piece of WV history.


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