Saturday, January 16, 2016

Pasta with bone marrow

Things are pretty busy around here this weekend and so I'm afraid that I'll have to be quick. I need you get over to your favorite butcher right away. I say favorite because the idea here is to score a few marrow bones, but then have the guy cut them lengthwise to expose the marrow. Not everybody is going to want to do this, what with their fingers needing to get so close to the band saw and all. My guy wasn't all that cool with the idea at first, but he came around without too much prodding.

Anyhow, when you get these babies home, season them with salt and pepper and roast them in a 400 degree F oven for around 20 minutes or so, or until the marrow is nicely cooked but not burned. (I had been asked to prepare this dish by My Associate when our friends Tom and Beth were over for dinner. To wit: For a pound of pasta I procured and roasted six bones, or twelve halves.) 

There's not much to this thing really. Make yourself a simple pasta aglio olio e peperoncini for four. After you've incorporated the pasta into the other ingredients in the pan, scoop out the marrow from all of the bones and mix them into the pasta. That's it. You're done.

Okay, I lied, there's one more step. Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top of each serving and have at it.

Quick cooking doesn't get a lot better than this.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Poof, you're a pasta!

The feeling around here is that I have never met an ingredient—a solid one, a liquid, or any other kind—that I would not somehow, some way fit—or, if necessary, force—into a pasta recipe. Take this butternut squash. It was supposed to be a side dish for another cook's menu, but when the woman wasn't watching (okay, it was 5 a.m. and she was still asleep in the bed that we share) I absconded with said squash and prayed for a not too harsh punishment.

A lying, cheating, conniving man does what a lying, cheating, conniving man must do.

Lop the top off, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven, preheated to 400 degrees F. (Do this as quietly as possible, lest you cause another in the house to prematurely awaken.)

As the squash is roasting dice a medium-size red onion very finely and saute in 4 tablespoons butter until the onion is softened. Do this on a low flame and slowly so that the onion and the butter do not burn. (Smells emanating from the kitchen have been known to move even the deepest of sleepers to rise. You're on your own here. Risk is an essential component to a full life.)

Start checking the squash for doneness at around 30 minutes. The flesh should be soft enough for a fork to go through easily. This squash roasted for around 50 minutes. Allow to cool then scoop out all the flesh and discard the skin.

In a food processor put the squash, the onion (including the butter it cooked in), 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a good dose of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Process for around 30 seconds or so, or until you can get a sense of how moist the mixture is going to be.

Start adding a little cream and continue processing. The idea here is to make a nice rich filling but not a wet and runny one. I added the cream in a couple stages and wound up using around 1/4 cup.

Here's the filling when it's done. It's about the consistency of a very moist ricotta. (If you are wondering, the answer is No, the food-processing stage did not awaken my beloved.)

At this point the pasta shape is up to you. I'd first thought about making ravioli but decided to go with cappelletti (little hats) instead.

Like so...

... and like so...

... and, well, you get the idea.

I decided to serve the cappelletti en brodo,  or simply in broth. There was a lot of turkey broth in the freezer from Thanksgiving and so I boiled and served the pasta in that. I also topped each serving with some crisp chunks of cooked homemade pancetta and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

It was only at this point that I knew I had been forgiven.