Monday, January 10, 2011

conchiglie with sage butter and parmesan cream

Who doesn’t love pasta? If you don’t, then you’ve probably not come across a good pasta dish. Pasta is amazing. Again it’s a blank canvas. Creating your own pasta dish is simple. But if I were you I’d stay away from the sweet stuffs when it comes to pasta. The last thing I want to see is a chocolate or raspberry pasta dish. I’m adventurous but that is a no no. For me, at least.
This recipe was inspired by a dish I had at a restaurant called Trattoria in Jakarta, Indonesia. Definitely one of my favorite Italian restaurants. They serve very rustic and authentic Italian food. I had their Homemade Ravioli Stuffed with Ricotta Cheese and Spinach in Sage and Butter Sauce. The flavors were clear. I knew exactly what I was tasting, the creaminess and tanginess of the ricotta and the buttery sage sauce. Basic and packed full of flavor. The ravioli was perfectly cooked, soft and literally cuts like butter. If I were to criticize this dish I would say the ravioli filling could have used a bit more seasoning. But maybe that’s a personal preference, I like big amounts of salt in my food.
The amazing dish I had at Trattoria

But I loved it so much, I had to let the chef know. So I wrote a little note and the waiter was kind enough to pass it on to the chef. He’s from Italy and doesn’t speak fluent English because the waiter came back and told me the chef wants to know the meaning of “seasoning”. Hard to explain but I tried, “basically more salt and pepper”.
My note to the chef

His reply

So I decided I had to cook a dish with sage and butter in it. Perfect combination and now sage has become one of my favorite herbs. Sage has that pungent aroma with an earthy, somewhat sweet flavor. It goes well with meats like turkey, pork and of course veal, the classic Italian dish Veal Saltimbocca is made of veal topped with prosciutto and sage. It’s also common in Thanksgiving stuffings. Usually it’s mixed with other herbs such as parsley, thyme, rosemary and many more.
I love anything creamy and cheesy so I thought of incorporating Parmesan and cream into the sage butter. It so worked. I used conchiglie pasta just because. But you could use others like penne, fusilli, farfalle, orecchiette, or any other short pastas. This recipe was created by feel and taste so I’m unsure about the measurements. I’ll try my best :)

Conchiglie with Sage Butter and Parmesan Cream
500g Conchiglie, or any other pasta of your choice
6 white button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped sage, plus the stalks
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon plain flour
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of chili powder
Parsley, for garnish
Marinate sliced mushrooms with olive oil. Refrigerate.
Pour enough water in a pan to boil the pasta, season the water with a generous amount of salt, the Italians believe your pasta water should taste just like sea water. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
On low heat, melt butter and add garlic. Cook just until the garlic begins to release its aroma, make sure the garlic does not turn dark brown because we don’t want to roast or fry the garlic. We just want to sweat it for flavor. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped sage and stir. Add pasta water little by little. You don’t have to use all of it, I used this water as a substitute for salt because the water itself is already salty. Then, add 1/2 cup heavy cream and stir until it begins to heat up.
Remove the pan from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of flour, whisk until well incorporated (It will be lumpy at first but just keep whisking, don’t do this on top of the stove). Once smooth, add 1 whole sage stalk and a pinch of chili powder and freshly ground black pepper. Let this simmer for a couple of minutes, just to allow the flavors of the sage stalk to release itself into the sauce. Continue to taste and season as you go. Add salt too, if you must.
Once sauce is thick enough and has the right seasoning, add the mushrooms, they don’t take very long to cook. Remove pan from the heat and add pasta to the sauce, stirring until all the sauce coats the pasta evenly. Top with freshly grated parmesan, it will eventually melt into the hot pasta. Serve hot.

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