Friday, December 16, 2011

I never said it was "health food"

Having parties means having party food.  For me, that's food that I wouldn't normally eat everyday, but would like to.  And it's inevitable that there are some leftover ingredients after a party that any Puritanical soul would be loathe to discard.

In this case, it was creme fraiche with lemon zest.  And some toasted pine nuts.  And some pork belly.  And some fresh herbs.

I also had some leftover cooked pasta, some mushrooms and some Romano cheese and some lovely salt-preserved capers.  I dreamt throughout the day of what I could do with all these things once suppertime arrived.  And so here is what resulted.  And I promise you, it is definitely not health food.  In fact, I think my triglycerides are a little high this morning.  I'm still thinking about how delicious that shatteringly crisp fried parsley, pine nut and salted caper garnish was...

After-Party Pasta

4 to 6 oz. pork belly, cut into 1/2" lardons (I actually think bacon would be a better choice next time)
2 medium shallots, minced
a little EVOO, if needed
8 large mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup madeira, marsala or medium-dry sherry
1 cup creme fraiche with about 1 tsp. lemon zest stirred in (you can substitute half sour cream and half light or heavy cream if needed)
3 cups cooked pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (or use about 1/2 tsp. dried)
a generous amount of freshly grated Romano cheese
1 Tbs. EVOO
2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
2 Tbs. rough-chopped flat leaf parsley
1 Tbs. salt-preserved capers (or used brined capers that have been well-drained)

1.  Render out the pork belly or bacon until crisped and caramelized in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
2.  In same pan, in pork fat, add shallot and saute until golden around the edges, adding a little EVOO if there is not enough fat.
3.  Add mushrooms and garlic, continuing to saute until mushrooms are beginning to caramelize.
4.  Salt and pepper to taste, then add the madeira and reduce heat to medium low while liquid reduces by about one half.
5.  Add creme fraiche and stir well.  DO NOT BOIL.
6.  Add cooked pasta and thyme leaves.  Stir well to coat pasta with sauce.  Reduce heat to low and cover pan.
7.  Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. EVOO in small skillet over medium-high heat.
8.  Briefly fry pine nuts, parsley and capers until parsley is intensely green and crisp.
9.  Divide pasta between two plates and generously sprinkle with Romano cheese.
10.  Garnish with fried pine nuts, parsley and capes.  Serves 2.

To drink:  Vistalba Corte B 2006 (Argentina).  Asparagus/artichoke on the nose.  Deep red fruit with a long, lovely finish.  Nicely balanced.  70% Malbec; 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.  About $17.

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