A deeply flavored comfort dish from the forests of Abruzzo


Share
Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2012, 11:29 am
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By Mario Batali
This pasta dish is inspired by the region of Abruzzo, among the most mountainous regions in Italy and home of some of the country's most interesting cooking. In the forests of Abruzzo, foraging reigns supreme. And because mushroom season lasts a little longer than it does elsewhere, we have porcini galore for winter ragus.

The brilliance of this dish is the combination of veal, mushrooms and doppio concentrato tomato paste. Together, the three create a depth of flavor more often achieved by reducing sauce for hours on end. The secret is the umami in the dried mushrooms. I chop the porcini finely and incorporate them into a simple ragu of ground veal and tomato paste. But the important factor is the concentrated flavor of the tea created when soaking the dried fungus in hot water.

I use farfalle — literally "butterflies" — because they hold up to the hefty condiment, but even penne will do. This recipe just might eclipse chicken soup as our go-to comfort food this holiday season.

Farfalle Abruzzese with Veal, Porcini and Spinach
Excerpted from "Molto Batali" (ecco, 2011)
Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 as a main.
3 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups hot water for 10 minutes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds ground veal shoulder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup double-concentrated tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup basic tomato sauce
1 1/2 pounds farfalle pasta
8 ounces baby spinach, trimmed
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano


Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid, and coarsely chop the porcini. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve, and set it aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is lightly toasted. Add the veal and the chopped porcini, and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the meat is well browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the tomato paste. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the paste turns a rust color, 5 minutes. Then add the wine and 1 cup of the strained porcini soaking liquid, and cook for 5 minutes, until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to a very low simmer.

Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large spaghetti pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.

Drop the farfalle into the water and cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions indicate. Just before the pasta is done, carefully ladle 1/4 cup of the cooking water into the veal mixture. Stir the baby spinach into the veal mixture.

Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it to the veal mixture. Toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds, until the pasta is nicely coated. Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, with the grated pecorino on the side.



















 



Local events heading








  Today is Monday, Oct. 20, the 293rd day of 2014. There are 72 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The store of Devoe and Crampton was entered and robbed of about $500 worth of gold pens and pocket cutlery last night.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Michael Malloy was named president of the Tri-City Stone Cutters Union.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Dewitte C. Poole, former Moline newspaperman serving as vice consul general for the United States government in Paris, declared in a letter to friends that the once gay Paris is a city of sadness and desolation.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans for the construction of an $80,000 wholesale bakery at 2011 4th Ave. were announced by Harry and Nick Coin, of Rock Island. It is to be known as the Banquet Bakery.
1964 -- 50 years ago: An application has been filed for a state permit to organize a savings and loan association in Moline, it was announced. The applicants are Ben Butterworth, A.B. Lundahl, C. Richard Evans, John Harris, George Crampton and William Getz, all of Moline, Charles Roberts, Rock Island, and Charles Johnson, of Hampton.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Indian summer is quickly disappearing as temperatures slide into the 40s and 50s this week. Last week, highs were in the 80s.


(More History)