29 January 2007

Pappardelle al sugo di coniglio

Well, the second time out with the pasta maker attachment was a success. It sort of all came together.

M offered to cook me eggs on Saturday morning. Nice of her, but there was the problem of no eggs in the house. So, I was dispatched to get some eggs and some cheese while M made coffee and sauteed the mushrooms and peppers. I had wanted to go to the butcher up the road to get the farm fresh eggs I love, but D'Agostinos is right across the street, so I went there instead.... and walked out within three minutes. Anything above factory farmed was over $5.00 for the dozen. Some dozens were north of $6.00! Totally disgusting and shameful. Especially when the butcher down the street carries those big, beautiful, hand-gathered eggs for $3.50 a dozen.

When I walked in, Mr. Simchick was trimming what looked like a cut-up rabbit. I said, "What is that, a rabbit?" He said, "Yes, would you like one." I didn't see how I could refuse. I'm only one man. What can I do? I also took a dozen eggs, and they'd just finished baking a spiral cut ham. It was steaming on the countertop. I told them a few slices and went next door for cheese, already plotting the Sunday dinner in my head.

I got some gruyere at Ideal Cheese, and a small tub of oil-cured olives. I normally don't like their bitter, pasty texture, but knew that they'd plump up and become sweet when braised in tomato with that rabbit.

Breakfast was great in its own right. I ended up cooking the scrambled eggs, adding some of that spiral-cut ham, and following the technique I've been using recently of stirring vigorously rather than allowing large curds to form. I had added some water to the eggs, which I probably won't do again, because they did give off a bit of water on the plate. I left them quite moist, something we've not really been worrying about, given the freshness of the eggs. M loved them. As I was watching, she sort of disappeared into the eating experience. It's a fascinating transformation. When I really hit the mark, she eats in a completely different way. Not any faster or slower, but more intently.

I kept back some of the ham for use with the rabbit. Here's how I did it:

Pappardelle: 2 x-large eggs to 1 cup flour. This is a learning experience. The normal recipe is 5 eggs to 3 cups flour (a pound), or 2 large eggs to 1 cup flour. I ended up having to put more flour into the mix. I'm also having trouble getting down the mixing technique. But it's pretty forgiving. I put in more flour until it came free of the board, then kneaded it for a good ten minutes, adding flour whenever it stuck. Then, wrapped in plastic and left to rest for a half hour at room temp. Fed the sheets through the rollers, folding in thirds and rotating a quarter turn. I've seen other recipes that stress folding in thirds and re-rolling each time you put the rollers down to the next notch. I don't know that this is exactly necessary. It might result in a bit more toothsome noodle, but delicate is okay as well.

1 rabbit, cut up and trimmed
1 tbsp. neutral oil (like vegetable or light olive)
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic (I would've preferred more, but that's all I had)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes + 1 cup water (I used whole San Marzanos and a potato masher, but the flavors in this dish are strong enough that that wasn't strictly necessary. I also should've used a big can rather than small.)
1 cup oil-cured black olives
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp mirto, an herb from Corsica, reminiscent of herbes de provence, which can be substituted.
1 Star brodo stock cube
salt and black pepper

I seasoned and floured the rabbit pieces (cut up for me) and browned them in two batches in oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker, which was not really necessary, as I had all day to do the sauce, but I hadn't used it in a while. I set the rabbit aside and I sweated the onions in the remaining oil, adding the garlic once they'd softened. Then, the remaining ingredients went in. I re-added the rabbit and brought it to a boil, then pressure-cooked for 20 minutes. The "sugo," or juice, was a little watery, so I left it open and sprinkled a little Wondra flour in there to give it some body to the sauce. I also let it simmer uncovered for a while. I find this a lot with pressure cooker food. If you give it a little time to readjust back to natural atmospheric conditions after depressurizing, it will often "relax" and become identical to the long-braised dishes that the pressure cooker is meant to approximate.

I hand-cut the pappardelle with a pizza wheel, boiled it for barely a couple minutes. I took it right out of the water into warmed bowls and ladled over the sugo, which was saucy, but not thick, leaving the meat in the pot. A few little shreds of meat came along with the sauce, but that's not really the point. The point is to use the pasta to soak up the flavor that's come out of the meat, then eat the meat as a secondo. I did this. M got stuck on the pasta, which she loved.

We ate it with grated Parmigiano. Italians say that pasta dishes based on game and fish should not be cheesed. I think everything tastes better with a little Parm, especially when there're tomatoes involved. It counters their acidity and makes the whole thing just... better. And this isn't really game.

Looking forward to a couple more great meals out of this one recipe.


DagoodS said...

I hate to bother you. And yes, this is TERRIBLY off-topic. But your blog was recommended to me, and I have enjoyed reading it.

Here is my problem, and I would love your input. I am having a Super Bowl party. Beer and Martini’s sort of thing. Serving hors d'oeuvres and my wife wants “something different.” No weenies in crescent rolls. Any suggestions?

Rich said...

Dang, are you sure? Because I've got a killer variation on weenies in crescent rolls that just kills.

DagoodS said...

Now you have me interested--fire away!