as i’ve been going on and on about – ad nauseam, i’m 5 weeks into a pretty serious diet shift. but in the name of sanity and well, umm, cosmc fairness i felt the need to make my own pasta. so the other day i ate lightly, preparing for a higher calorie dinner – and then yesterday i really watched the calories, keeping my average daily intake to where it needed to be. was i hungry? a little. did i live? well, here i am to tell the tale…
my daughter is 27. and although we met when she was already 12, i made it a point to raise her on very good quality food. i baked all our bread, made all our pizzas, cookies, cakes – and shopped almost exclusively at the local health food market. it mattered to me that she would grow up knowing the difference between what i considered to be good food – and what was readily available to a teenager in nashville. so these days, when she shows up at the house i love nothing more than to cook her the food she craves, dishes she’d never make for herself. also now that there’s a 6 year old in tow, i really enjoy having the opportunity to turn my sweet boy on to new taste sensations and hear him exclaim "wow, grand claud – i really like this!".
but i’ve been being careful. oh so painfully careful. making the right choices. keeping it lean. counting. weighing. doing the weight loss math. but here’s the deal. because we all have our limits, right? diet or no diet. there will be pasta. and the only thing better than pasta is homemade pasta. and my girl is a pasta fiend. really she’s a fool for gnocchi… and i need to get on that. but pasta always makes her very happy which in turn satisfies me to no end. see? pasta. it’s the quintessential win/win. of this i am quite sure.
the italian dish had written about a batali pasta that she’d made not long ago, and after lusting after it i filed it away in my non existent memory and promptly forgot all about it. but a few days ago when flipping through the ‘babbo cookbook’ for ideas, my eyes fell upon a recipe that immediately appealed to me and also seemed vaguely familiar. sure enough it was that very same one. destiny at play, no doubt. so i caught a ride to the market (still carless) and bought parsnips. i also managed to lay my hands on some marigold yolked farm fresh eggs and i defrosted the hunk of pancetta that tom from lazzaroli’s had sold me a few months back.
the recipe called for black pepper pasta and with all my pasta making to date, i’ve yet to add in anything to the flour besides some eggs and a touch of oil and water. i used mostly 00 flour and added about 20% semolina bringing it to about 4 cups of flour total. this batch took 4 eggs, 2 yolks, about a teaspoon or so of olive oil and maybe 2 tablespoons of water. i barely measured anything and well, it came out wonderfully. the miracle of pasta making never ceases to amaze me. the next time i will be sure and grind the pepper finer as i noticed the pasta tore in a few places from the bigger pieces of peppercorn dragging through the roller. while the pasta strips dried out a bit, i decided instead of making fettuccine with my cutters, i’d just roughly cut the pasta into thick rectangular strips. i’ve no idea the exact name for this shape but it’s like a maltagliati.
the pancetta gets browned and then removed from the pan. in goes about one tablespoon of butter and two of olive oil. the 4 parsnips were peeled and chopped into coins and browned until crisp, next went the leeks. i used 3, sliced into quarters and when wilted and a bit caramelized, i added some salt, deglazed the pan with an italian red and in went chopped parsley and the pancetta. the pasta was drained and added to the pan along with about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. finito. serve with grated parmegiano.
the red wine was kind of a no-brainer. i can’t imagine mario not wanting you to deglaze that pan – but well, he didn’t mention it and i just had to. after all, i had just fried a BACONlike substance in that pan which is a rarity around here so there was no way i wasn’t going to get all that flavor back. really mario. wtf?
and the leeks were an afterthought. i had bought them for no particular reason and when grabbing the parsnips from the refrigerator, i thought it all made sense. and for those of you suspicious about parsnips (and yes, lauren – i am looking at you, honey) it’s high time you saw this vegetable as versatile. it’s delicious. and nutritious. any other applicable words ending in -cious, please let me know.
but hey… dear readers, i just needed to bring attention to my batali guilt. after all, i defiled his recipe. certain chefs have no real impact on me. i’ll substitute. i’ll mess with the best. but mario is brilliant. mario is in my top five. and i overrode his good judgment without any second thought,
my god. what have i become?