Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thursday Night, Fresh Pasta

This weekend I knew we were going out on Friday night so I did a "quick fancy meal" on Thursday. After watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show, I was intrigued by a pasta dish. It was a show on "techniques" and he had guest chefs on. Scott Conant was making "pasta with red sauce" and he did some different things while making the sauce. I didn't have the real recipe, I just guessed at the amounts. What he does is uses fresh tomatoes that he peels the skin off of and puts it in a pan with a little olive oil and a good pinch of salt. The salt will help to break down the tomatoes, but he helps it along with a potato masher and lets it cook for 45 minutes. I used canned San Marzano whole tomatoes because I didn't want to go to the store and they were, I am sure just as good. While the tomatoes cook down he infuses olive oil, he said 2 cups I did about 1/2 cup or 3/4 maybe, with 10 whole garlic cloves, a handful of fresh basil leaves and a good pinch of crushed red pepper. He said he thinks of it as tea, just cook over very low heat until the oil takes on all those flavors, it probably took about 10-15 minutes. Once the tomatoes are cooked down and the oil is infused you strain all the oil into the tomatoes and mix it together. When he's ready to serve, he does one serving at a time by putting one serving of the tomato sauce in a skillet and cooking one serving of spaghetti then adding the pasta to the sauce along with a little pasta water and toss it with about 1 tbsp of butter, more fresh basil, more olive oil and more red pepper flakes. He tosses adding a bit more pasta water if necessary until the sauce becomes almost creamy from the butter added at the end. It's heavy duty with all that oil and butter but it is good, I must say.

To make it special I made fresh pasta. You can make fresh pasta with out a recipe and the amounts aren't important. I scoop some All Purpose Flour onto my butcher block counter, probably about 2 cups and a pinch of salt. Mix it together a bit and make a well in the center, add room temperature eggs into the well; you can do all yolks, all whole eggs, some of each... I usually do some of each, this time I did 3 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk...The last couple times I made pasta I have used some olive oil and I like that addition. The oil adds a nice texture to the dough, again no measurements, maybe I used 1-2 Tbsp this time. Use a fork and break the eggs and mix, adding some flour a bit at a time with the tines of the fork and when it's thick enough start to bring it together with your hands and a bench scraper, adding more flour as you need it but not so much that it starts to make a tough dough. Then roll it through the pasta machine (I have the attachment to my Kitchen Aid) about 10-15 times until it's silky then rest, covered with a damp towel for about 30 minutes. Then roll out and cut into spaghetti. It's ready to be boiled now, but I let mine sit on the counter with a little flour until I was ready, about an hour later. Fresh pasta only needs about 3 minutes of cooking in boiling salted water.

I served a salad before the pasta. Tony smoked his own bacon and a beef brisket last weekend and we hadn't tried the bacon yet. I cut the bacon as thin as I could with a chef's knife. I wanted to cook some as is and some of it with brown sugar. Place a cooling rack on a sheet pan and place the bacon strips on the cooling rack. Over half of the slices sprinkle on brown sugar, maybe 1-2 tsp per strip of bacon. Place into a preheated 375 degree oven and 15-20 minutes later it's done. So I tossed the brown sugar bacon, fresee lettuce and thinly sliced radishes together. I made a salad dressing using shallots, mustard, honey, sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and after emulsifying it I grated some Parmesan Reggiano in and stirred together. I was thinking of Caesar Salad Dressing with the grated cheese. Toss it together and it was really a great combination.

1 comment: