Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pasta alla Norcina

Baby Girl loves to watch cooking shows on TV. I'll admit, the first time she told me she wanted to watch Lidia I shed a tear. When we aren't crazy busy with other activities we'll spend some quiet time Saturday afternoon watching cooking on PBS. That's pretty much how I developed my love of cooking so she's in good company.

One afternoon recently we were watching America's Test Kitchen and they made this recipe for Pasta alla Norcina. It had everything we love in one dish - pasta, mushrooms and sausage, with a touch of heavy cream thrown in to gild the lily. I immediately found the recipe online and printed it off.


This was my first time making orecchiette for Baby Girl and she couldn't get enough. She was eating the plain pasta right out of the colander after I drained it. SP told me I could make this once a week and he'd be happy. It may seem a little time consuming with all the steps (it wouldn't be an ATK recipe without all those steps) but the result is well worth it. And it really doesn't take that long to put together.

I doubled the recipe (printed below) so we'd have enough for leftovers the next day. This makes a lot - I'd say 6-8 servings if you have a veggie on the side - so the original recipe would probably work fine for a family of 4 without leftovers.

Pasta alla Norcina
From America's Test Kitchen

Kosher salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces ground pork
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Pinch ground nutmeg
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed
10 teaspoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 lb orecchiette
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3 teaspoons lemon juice

Grease a small dinner plate with vegetable oil spray. Dissolve 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the baking soda in 4 teaspoons water in a medium bowl. Add the pork and fold gently to combine; let stand for 10 minutes.

Add 1 teaspoon garlic, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon pepper to pork and stir and smear with a rubber spatula until well combined and tacky, 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer pork mixture to the greased plate and form into a 6-inch patty.

Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped, 10 to 12 pulses.

Heat 4 teaspoons oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the sausage patty and cook without moving it until the bottom is browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the second side is well browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer (very center of patty will be raw). Remove pan from heat, transfer sausage to cutting board, and roughly chop. Transfer sausage to bowl and add cream; set aside.

Cook pasta, drain and reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water.

While pasta cooks, return now-empty skillet to medium heat. Add 4 teaspoons oil, mushrooms, and pinch salt; cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoon oils, remaining garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, and ½ teaspoon pepper; cook until fragrant. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until completely evaporated. Stir in sausage and 1/3 cup reserved cooking water and simmer until meat is no longer pink, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in Pecorino until smooth.

Add sauce, parsley, and lemon juice to pasta and toss well to coat. Before serving, adjust consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed and season with salt and pepper to taste.
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  1. So funny!! Steve and I watched this episode together and agreed I need to make it soon. I have a pound of plain ground pork in the freezer (a rarity - how timely!) and went ahead and earmarked it for that. I'm thrilled to see that you "tested" it for me first (HA) and that it was a big hit.

  2. Made it for dinner last night and the family loved it!


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