Spring is the time for peas. In Italy, peas are a seasonal food to be relished on the spot. Yes, you can get frozen peas there, and peas do freeze well. But suggest frozen peas to one of the “little old pasta” ladies working in Bologna, and you’ll get a cold stare.
Search out for fresh peas. And some pea shoots, too, for this pasta dish employs a pea puree that is smooth in texture and dense in flavor.
This recipe comes from Flour + Water: Pasta, the seminal pasta cookbook by San Francisco chef Thomas McNaughton. It’s an important and surely intense cookbook. The recipe here will take you some time to concoct. Great food is not made in a flash. So, open up a bottle Italian white.
The first ingredient here is Tom’s Standard Egg Dough pasta. I’m not going to duplicate that recipe here. I’m trying, not too subtly, to encourage you to buy the book and make his pasta treasure. In the directions below, there are references to page numbers in the book for fuller explanation of some of the techniques; this really is a pasta textbook.
Alternatively, you can probably hunt down a pasta store selling fresh sheets of pasta, for fresh — spring fresh — is the theme of this very green recipe.
Well, let’s talk about that freshness. Garganelli is a fresh tube pasta with a long mythological history. Something about a cat eating a meat filling for pasta and a housewife having to improvise. You need some special equipment [a garganelli comb] to make it and that task is carefully delineated in the book. Even Tom knows we have limits so you can substitute dried penne here and not be too too far off the mark.
Garganelli with Prosciutto and Peas
Yield: serves 4
1 recipe Standard Egg Dough or penne for four
For the pea puree:
5 ounces English peas
½ cup pea shoots
1 tablespoon whole milk
About ¼ cup water
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
3 ounces diced prosciutto
1 tablespoon minced green garlic, or 1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 ½ ounces spring onions, diced into ⅛-inch pieces
1 ½ cups chicken stock
5 ½ ounces shelled English peas
4 tablespoons butter, chilled
3 cups baby arugula
Juice of ½ lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for finishing
20 arugula flowers, stemmed, for garnish (optional)
Dust 2 baking sheets with semolina flour and set aside.
To make the pasta, follow the instructions for the Egg Dough (page 6).
Using a pasta machine, roll out the dough to 1/16 inch thick.
Cut a 2-foot section of the pasta sheet and cover the rest of the dough with plastic wrap. With a sharp knife or straight wheel cutter, cut the pasta dough into 2-inch squares. Place one square on the garganelli comb, positioned diagonally, so two corners are at the top and bottom.
Place the dowel on the bottom of the comb. Using your fingers if necessary, curl up the corner so it curls up around the dowel to help get the tube started. In one smooth but firm motion, roll the dowel away from you from the bottom corner to the top corner, forming the tube-like garganelli.
Place the garganelli on the prepared baking sheet, uncovered, to air dry at room temperature until ready to cook. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Have ready a bowl of ice water.
To make the puree, cook the peas and shoots in boiling salted water until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the ice bath and cool completely, about 2 minutes. Remove the peas from the water and store, refrigerated, until ready to use.
Put the peas and shoots in the jar of a blender. Add the milk and begin to puree. Add just enough water, roughly ¼ cup, to achieve a smooth puree. Season with salt. You should have about 2 cups.
To finish, bring a large pot of seasoned water to a boil (see page 18).
Heat a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the olive oil and heat until it gently ripples on the surface of the pan. Add the prosciutto. It should sizzle the moment it hits the pan. You want to brown it a bit without making it crispy, about 1 minute. This step will infuse the oil with the prosciutto flavor, which will permeate the entire dish.
Add the green garlic and spring onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent, about 5 minutes. You want to keep stirring to prevent the garlic from burning.
Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil over medium heat, and allow the stock to begin to reduce. If using homemade garganelli, you want the stock to begin boiling in the pan before you drop the pasta in the water.
If using store-bought dried penne you should add the pasta to the water when you begin cooking the prosciutto.
Increase the heat under the sauté pan to medium-high and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook about 1 minute. Add the peas to warm through. Once the pasta is cooked 80 percent through, until almost al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes if using homemade Garganelli, add it to the pan. Cook in the pan for about 2 minutes. Add the butter and the pea puree and vigorously swirl the pan to create an emulsion. We want to keep reducing until the sauce coats the noodle.
Turn off the heat and gently fold in the arugula. Toss the pasta to incorporate the arugula. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve, divide the pasta and sauce between four plates. Garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, sprinkle with arugula flowers, if using, and serve immediately.
Source: Flour + Water: Pasta by Thomas McNaughton [Ten Speed Press, 2014]
Photography Credit: Eric Wolfinger
Last week I wrote a TBT cookbook review for Around the Southern Table by Sarah Belk. It’s a tour de force of historic Southern dishes with loving emphasis on those ingredients we now call “local and fresh.” In a Southern spring, blackberries abound. In the New Orleans of a century ago, Blackberry Pie or Tarte de Mures and Blackberry Roll or Bourrelet aux Mures were considered dessert delicacies.
This recipe is one Sarah developed, drawing on the childhood memories of friends. It looks like a roulade and tastes like a very berry scone. It’s supposed to be a dessert, but with a cup of coffee this is a most delicious way to begin your morning and your day.
Suzen made this. I watched.
“Is it hard?” I asked, knowing darn well she had reached an awkward moment, the rolling up.
“It ain’t easy,” she responded, answering the challenge.
The issue here is rolling up the dough once the berries have been scattered on top. It’s a thick and somewhat sticky dough, and certainly a heavy one. I’m sure that with practice, Suzen will get much better at this. I’m going to encourage her continuing education.
We ate this right away, out of the oven, with steaming berries. You can do that, or let it cool. It can be adorned with whipped cream [as pictured] or ice cream. But “just plain” is really very good.
Yield: serves 6-8
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
½ cup milk
2 cups blackberries (or substitute dewberries, raspberries, or blueberries)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water for glaze
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar. With a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in 2 tablespoons of the butter and the shortening. Stir in milk until just blended (do not overmix).
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch by 18-inch rectangle, Vs inch thick. Distribute berries evenly on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Sprinkle with remaining sugar; dot with remaining butter. Roll up lengthwise like a jelly roll; pinch edges together to close. Place seam- side-down on buttered jelly-roll pan. Brush with egg glaze.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until juices are bubbling and dough is seriously golden- brown. Test with a toothpick to make sure the dough is firm all the way through. Cool at least 10 minutes before slicing. Slice and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Source: Around the Southern Table by Sarah Belk [Simon and Schuster, 1991]
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4 for 1/50th second at ISO-640
He’s back. Richard H. Turner has a new cookbook: Hog. Oh, you don’t recognized the name? He was part of the team that brought you Pitt Cue Co: The Cookbook in 2013. That book is a fabulous tale about some Brits who love meat, explored American barbeque joints, and then opened up their exceptional London restaurant. Pitt Cue is still a book Suzen and I turn to [for a review look here] and now, now we have this companion from Turner.
Involved in meat production and in restaurants and in writing, Turner leads a meat-centric life. It can be argued which European country best does pork: Germany, Italy, France, or Great Britain. Read Hog, and you will undoubtedly vote for Turner and Britain. It’s not that all the recipes here are British. Well-traveled, Turner offers pork recipes from around the world.
The book’s chapters are organized by cut, staring with primal and proceeding to smoked. Along the way, every possible cut or piece of that hog is considered — including parts you’ve only seen in Chinese restaurants. The cooking techniques range from simple roasting to slow cooking, sausages, and smoking. The condiments, sauces, and side dishes that amplify pork pleasure are here in refined form.
Here are the major chapters and some of the exciting recipes offered for your consumptive pleasure.
Primal Cuts begins with three recipes that tell you how very porcine this book is:
Whole Roast Suckling Pig
Roast Haunch of Wild Board with Cranberry Ketchup
Slow-Roast Leg of Pork with Rhubarb Ketchup
You’ll also find here a Persian specialty, Milk and Honey Brined Pork Chops where the chops need a night in refrigerator to be ready for your grill. What to serve with this delicate dish? Richard offers you his Parsnip, Potato, and Apple Cake. If you think that milk and honey is just too “soft” for your hardy pork, then you can opt for Grilled Hard Cinder Brined Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce. If one of those two does not appeal to you, you probably need a chicken book.
Before the next chapter appears, there is a brilliant ten page history of pork from the original wild boars to the wonderful spectrum of hogs now raised on British farms. Similar interludes precede each new chapter. Reading these, you are primed to begin your own pig farm. Or simply appreciate those who do.
Not-So Primal Cuts offers more subtle and classic recipes from around the world:
Pork Shoulder Braised in Milk
Roast Pork with Fennel, Olives, Oranges and Oregano
Goan Pork Vindaloo
Sticky Toffee Pork [don’t look at this recipe unless you are ready to begin cooking!]
The chapter for Chopped, Ground & Mixed provides an array of smaller, more personal, and more complex recipes:
Individual Pork Pies
Wild Boar Terrine
Sausages begins with a list of 10 ways to make a sausage mix. Then it is off to the stuffing and cooking:
Polpette al Forno [sausage balls cooked with grapes]
Sausage Stuffed Onions
I will admit my page turning slowed when I entered the Snout to Tail chapter. I’m just an American man who has lived on bacon, ham, and pork roasts. I have never tried, but now may succumb, to ideas like:
Faggots [pork shoulder and liver]
Stuffed Pigs Stomach
Smoked Pig’s Jowls
Pigs Head Poutine
Crispy Fried Pig’s Ear Salad
Those last recipes truly depict the comprehensiveness of Hog. Richard is a British man who has benefited from the hog heritage of Great Britain. If there was ever a book devoted to the whole hog, it is this one. If you believe in sustainability, if you think that every bit an animal should be put to use, then Hog is your guide.
Hog is the product of knowledge and passion. You are sure to find a recipe or two or ten that will grace your table with pleasure. If pork can appear in your kitchen, then Hog needs to be next to your stove.