Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Part Seven of Italian (pan sauces) Cooking

Today we're talking about "pan sauces" and "pasta" and how simple they are to make.  This type of dish takes less than 30 minutes to put together.  The longest part of it is cooking the pasta (bringing water to a boil and then the cooking time).  While you are getting the pasta ready, you can put the sauce together using items that many have on hand in their kitchen regularly.  You can also buy special ingredients for these dishes too.

It's basically a four-step process to create all types of tasty dishes.  Remember that you are only limited by your "taste-buds" and "imagination" when putting these meals on the table.

  • To start, you needs a large saute pan and your beginning flavors of extra virgin olive oil, butter or a combination of the two.  You want to use a good quality olive oil here.  If you are just wanting a healthy base, stick to just the olive oil.  But the butter adds another layer of flavor.
  • To this base, we want to add more flavor.  Here you want to use garlic, onions, shallots, leeks or other aromatics.  Also at this time, you want to add protein.  Some good examples would be Italian sausage (hot or mild), cured meats (bacon, Pancetta, etc.) or seafood.  If you want vegetables (mushrooms, broccoli, etc.), this is the time for them too.  If you like heat, add red pepper flakes or other hot peppers at this point.
  • When the pasta is al dente, add it to the sauce and mix.  Always be sure to retain a cup of the pasta water to add to the pasta and sauce.  Because of the starchiness of the water it helps the sauce thicken and become more silky.  You could use chicken broth or wine here as well.  The choice does influence the flavor of the dish.
  • It's probably best to remove the pan from the heat or at least turn it off for the last step.  Here we want to add cheese, fresh herbs, breadcrumbs, cracker-crumbs  salt and pepper.  Toss well and serve.  Some of your dishes might even be better with a little drizzle of very good extra virgin olive oil over the top.  These dishes are always better with some great Italian bread too.
I hope all of you print this and keep it handy.  This type of dish makes a great simple dinner but can also impress company.  Have fun creating your favorite signature dish to wow family and friends.

This week there are three recipes coming.  The first is "Orecchiette with Bacon, Onions & Mushrooms" and orecchiette pasta looks like elephant ears.  The second recipe is for a dish called "Linguine with Red Claim Sauce & Hot Pepper."  Don't let it scare you off because it has clams.  Give it a try as you might be surprised by it's great flavor.  The last recipe is for a dish who's sauce is not even cooked.  Something interesting and different to try.  It's called "Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce" and is a quick simple dish that may be best turning the fresh tomato season.

Our next installment of the "Italian Cooking" series in four weeks will be on "Italian Breads" and their baking.  In the mean time, "Happy Cooking!" 

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