Sunday, January 16, 2011

Charcutepalooza: Whole Wheat Pasta with Braised Cabbage & Duck Prosciutto

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

Trying something new here, since I don't have time to pull together full recipes for you right now, but this dish was so good that I had to share. The hazelnut breadcrumbs are gilding of this lily, but they are quick to make and really add a great textural contrast to this dish.

This was good people, really really good. The whole time we ate we made yummy noises. (There may have been some grunting.)

If you don't have duck prosciutto at hand, sub in a great ham (country ham would be fabulous), cooked bacon, or traditional prosciutto (domestic would ok).

So here you go, step-by-step:

Brown one large onion, sliced thin, in a large skillet.

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

Add about 1/2 of a savoy cabbage, sliced thin, and about 1/2 cup of water. Cook over medium heat until cabbage is softened.

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

Add two large dollops of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of salt.

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

Stir once or twice and cook until it looks like this. Add a little water if the skillet gets too dry; you want things to stay semi-soupy. When it's done to your liking, grind in a crap-ton of black pepper and turn off the heat until the pasta is ready.

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

Meanwhile, cook up about half a pound of whole wheat spaghetti.

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

When the pasta is cooked to your taste (I like whole wheat pasta to be just this side of underdone, because it will finish cooking in the skillet *and* because when it overcooks, it gets soggy), reserve a cup of the cooking water (that's the mug is for: to remind me to save some water) and drain the pasta.

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

Toss the pasta into the skillet and turn the heat back on. Stir and toss the pasta together with the cabbage, adding some cooking water if it's too dry.

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

Fold in about 1/2 cup of duck prosciutto, slivered.

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

Serve in warmed soup plates, topped with hazelnut breadcrumbs.

To make the breadcrumbs:

Put a handful of hazelnuts into a mortar.

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

Crush them and toss them into a small pan with an equal portion of panko or fresh breadcrumbs. Drizzle in some olive oil and toast over medium high heat until browned and crispy.

Pasta with Braised Cabbage and Duck Prosciutto

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Charcutepalooza: Month One

So, over New Year's my friend Mrs. Wheelbarrow and new friend Yummy Mummy had a spark that grew into a massive meaty conflagration: Charcutepalooza! We're going to take on various charcuterie projects over the course a year. With my major project on deck: y'know, opening a restaurant, I'm going to do my best keeping up but don't think I'll be able to do every project.

You can get on board too! Check out the Charcutepalooza page for information on how to get started.

In month one we made duck prosciutto. I purchased whole ducks and broke them down for the breast meat (oh yes, on Twitter the breast jokes were never-ending). I made confit from the legs with the fat rendered from the carcasses.

The prosciutto making was the easy part: you bury the breasts in salt night, then rub them with spices, then hang them for 7 days. Done!

For me the biggest challenge was finding a spot in the house that had the right combination of temperature (50-60 degrees) and humidity (70% ish). My prosciutto ended up a little dry and I'm sure it's because of the humidity level (too low).

I rubbed two of my breasts with white pepper and the other with a fennel-black pepper-coriander mixture. To be honest, I didn't taste much of a difference between the two. Next time I might try heavily crusting it with black pepper for a more pastrami-esque experience.

So far, we've eaten our prosciutto alongside a citrusy fennel salad and over the top of a chickpea soup. For the soup, I tried crisping the prosciutto, and for me this wasn't super successful: the prosciutto got saltier and lost a lot of its nuanced flavors.

Next month: Pancetta!
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