Friday, January 28, 2011

Rigatoni alla Pastora (Shepherd style)

Not mine but too good not to record. Transcribed from Lidia Bastianich's PBS-TV broadcast January, 2011. Simple, fast, and delicious. The sausage brings most of the flavor. Fresh herbs pick up the rest.
1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage, removed from casing, and crumbled
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil [Lidia used 1/2 c]
1/2 t crushed red pepper (peperoncino) Omit with hot sausage
1 lb rigatoni
1/2 t kosher salt
2 c whole-milk ricotta
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c loosely-packed fresh basil leaves torn into shreds (or 1/2 c parsley and cilantro, mixed)
Sauce: Heat a heavy large saucepan over medium-high, add the oil and then the peperoncino for a few seconds. Add the crumbled sausage, and cook well with occasional turning, for about 10 minutes until well-browned and crispy. Variation: Add 1/2 c sliced sweet red pepper and 1 c sliced mushrooms to the sausage as it is cooking.
Pasta: As the sausage is browning, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook until just tender, about 11 minutes. Stir about 1/2 c of the pasta water into the cooked sausage to form a sauce. Transfer pasta with a slotted spoon to the sauce and continue cooking. Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan, and toss well, adding more pasta water as needed. Heat through. Scatter the herbs on top, drizzle on a bit more oil, and heap into warm bowls.

Seafood Risotto

Devised and prepared January 27, 2011.The prep is long-winded but straight-forward. The result is well worth the effort.
6 oz cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 leek, white part only, finely sliced
1/3 c shallots, finely sliced
1 T garlic, finely minced
6 oz asparagus, roll cut into half-inch pieces
1/2 c baby peas, defrosted
3/4 c dry white wine
4 c hot seafood stock (or chicken stock) plus 2 c hot water
1-1/2 c arborio rice
4 oz pkg salad shrimps
4 oz pkg  bay scallops
1 lb pkg mussels in sauce, defrosted
6 oz frozen seafood assortment (squid, octopus, mussels, shrimp)
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c parsley, coarsely chopped
1/4 c cilantro, coarsely chopped
zest and juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Brine: 1/4 c kosher salt, 1/4 c sugar dissolved in 1 qt cold water
Prepare brine and soak frozen shrimp, scallops, and seafood mix for 30 minutes, or until is thoroughly defrosted, stirring occasionally. Drain thawed seafood, and discard the brine. Heat the diluted stock almost to a boil, and off heat, stir in the drained seafood, and set aside. [This will lightly cook and tenderize the seafood.]
In a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium heat, saute the mushrooms in 1 T oil for a few minutes, add the leeks, shallots, and garlic, and a bit more oil, salt and pepper. After a few minutes, add the asparagus, and continue cooking. Stir in the peas, and cook a few minutes more until heated through. Remove
vegetables to a plate, and set aside.
Wipe out the skillet, and add 2 T more oil. When hot, stir in the rice and cook over medium heat until translucent and lightly colored. Stir frequently and avoid burning. Add the wine and continue cooking until absorbed. Drain the seafood from the stock, and reheat the stock. Lower the heat, and add enough hot stock to cover the rice. When it's largely absorbed, ladle in more hot stock. Stir frequently, and continue slowly adding stock until most is absorbed. This takes about 20 minutes. Stir in the mussels and cooked seafood, and heat through gently. Stir in herbs, lemon, and the cheese. Correct seasoning. Serves six.