I have a passion. Ok, I’m a foodie, so I have a lot of passions, but this one tends to be at the top of my passion list…
Pasta and I have been in a love affair for about 50 years now. I’m not saying that I’ve remained faithful, there was a time or two when spaghetti squash caught my eye, and I’m not going to lie…we experimented…but it always came up short, rather unsatisfying for me….And I always came back to my one true love, the one that never, ever disappoints.
So, it’s not surprising that when I’m walking through a store, no matter how rushed I am, a display of pasta, or the Italian section of the store will always pull me in…as it did this past Monday when I was shopping at this little Italian store, that I’m thrilled is about 10 minutes from my house. Honestly, I was finished shopping and was on my way to the cashier, when I spied a display of pasta out of the corner of my eye. I stopped dead in my tracks, and slowly backed up….
And there he was…. Grano Armando Pacchero… sitting there on that display, demanding that I put him in my cart and take him home with me…”Why do you hesitate?” he asks… “You know you want me..” And how could I not… it was pasta after all….and one that I had never seen before….unbelievable, yet true….
Grano Armando Pacchero came home with me that day, and sat on my kitchen counter all week while I tried to decide exactly what to do with him.
Pacchero is much bigger than rigatoni, but much smaller than manicotti, so I knew that it could handle a heavy sauce. Something like Bolognese, maybe? Possibly… but I didn’t really want a ground meat type of sauce. I wanted something bigger. And then it hit me. Stew…a saucy beef stew. At that moment, I truly believed that it was to be the perfect pairing.
I set the stew in motion… sautéing mushrooms, onions, garlic… searing the stew beef… adding tomato sauce, along with carrots, zucchini ribbons, potatoes, peas, and celery. I let it cook for a few hours, so that the beef would break down, the whole time thinking I would shave some parmiggiano on top before serving.
I tasted it a few times while it was cooking, and felt that it needed something. My palate wanted a creamy texture, but I didn’t want to add heavy cream…so the plan was to let my taste testers sample it for their opinions. As I was dishing up their servings to take with me, layering the pasta on the bottom, and the stew on top, I had a last minute thought. Egg yolk. So I quick boiled some eggs, removed the hardened egg yolks, crumbled them, and then sprinkled them on top of the stew. Then I sprinkled the shaved parm on top of that.
My Taste Testers Review:
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I love my taste testers..They’re so supportive, the greatest cheerleaders a new blogger could possibly have… What I’ve learned from them, is that everyone has a different palate, and its interesting to hear the different opinions. It makes me wonder exactly how we all have different taste buds. What makes a person like salt over sugar? What makes a person love peas, but another hate them? It’s all very interesting to me…
They were all were pleased for the most part. All of them loved the flavor of the stew. “It was like Sunday dinner…” said Erica. But both she and Steve felt it needed more salt. Everyone loved the egg on top. Jim and Steve don’t care for peas to begin with, so of course they said to take the peas out, but everyone else loved the peas. Allison and Jim said that the pacchero was just way too big to enjoy with the sauce, that maybe the stew should have been stuffed into each one, rather than on top. Cheryl loved how the beef was so tender, and the caramely flavor that it gave to the stew. Val thought that there was so much going on in the stew, she felt a little overwhelmed. Rob gobbled it down, making “Mmmm” noises the whole time!
Chris mentioned some crushed red pepper to give it a little zip, and maybe to cook it down with some beef stock so that it would have more of a beef base, rather than a tomato base. Dredge the beef in flour, which would help to thicken the beef stock. He also mentioned that he loved the egg yolk, but thought that for presentation purposes, it would be pretty to put a fried egg right on top. LOVE that idea. At that point, I envisioned a softer yolk, running into the sauce. (Chris really is a chef, so imagine how nervous I am to have him taste my food.. it’s like I walk into his cubicle, genuflect, hand him the taste sample in a ritual type way, and then back out of his cube so as to not turn my back on him… haha, not really… but it is a little disconcerting to have a true chef taste your amateurish food!!)
In the end, I decided to put the pacchero in the back of my head for another recipe, and went with the smaller rigatoni. Rigatoni is a strong macaroni, and can stand up to a heavy stew such as this. I added a pinch of crushed red pepper to give it a little zip, but not too much. I added more salt. I did add beef stock (Yes, Mr Alongi, homemade beef stock…) and let it cook for a little longer so that the tomato flavor would calm down. And the fried egg…there couldn’t be a more perfect match to give it that creaminess that I longed for. Thank you, Mr. Alongi.
Am I disappointed that it didn’t really work out with the pacchero? Not at all… It just means that I get to try this all over again in the near future, and that makes me very, very happy….
Buon divertimento! Vi auguro una bella giornata … Enjoy! I wish you a beautiful day…
(Ok, yeah…I did that with Bing Translator, because except for a few words here and there… I don’t speak an ounce of Italian. It’s a dream of mine to someday take classes…but for now, I rely on Bing..)
Stufato di Manzo Pomodoro e Uovo Fritto Sopra Rigatoni..(Rough Translation: Fried Egg and Stew Over Rigatoni)
1 1/2 pounds stew beef
1 cup flour, mixed with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
1/2 pound applewood smoked bacon, cut into smaller pieces
2 medium onions, diced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 small zucchini, cut into ribbons
3 small potatoes, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 29 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups beef stock
1 cup frozen peas
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, (or more to suit your desired heat)
In a large frying pan, cook the bacon until it is crispy, remove from oil to a dish, and set aside. Dredge the stew beef in the flour, salt and pepper, and in the bacon grease, over low heat, cook the beef until browned. Remove from the grease, and set aside on a plate. In the same grease, sauté the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon to the bacon dish, and set aside. Add the carrots, zucchini, potatoes, and celery, and cook them until they are browned. Leave in the pan. Add the beef, bacon, onion and mushroom mixture back to the frying pan along with the tomato sauce, beef stock, sugar, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cover, and simmer for about 4 hours, until beef is tender. This could go into a dutch oven, and bake for 4 hours at 350 degrees. After 4 hours, add the peas, and cook or bake for another hour.
1 pound rigatoni
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup Romano cheese
Fresh ground pepper
After the stew is fully cooked, cook the rigatoni per the instructions on the box. Make sure that you add a generous amount of salt into the water as it’s coming to a boil. It truly does make a difference in the taste of your pasta. Drain the pasta, place in a large bowl, and mix with the butter and Romano cheese. Grind some fresh black pepper over the top and give it one last stir.
4 extra large eggs
2 tbsp butter
In a separate frying pan, melt the 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Crack the four eggs into the butter, and fry them sunny side up.
Put it All Together:
You can do this a couple of different ways… you can use a large serving platter, arrange the rigatoni on the bottom, the stew on top of that, and place the eggs on top, sprinkle with shaved parmiggiano, and place on the middle of the table. Or you can serve it on four individual plates by dividing the rigatoni onto each plate, layer with the stew, one egg on the top center of each, and sprinkle with shaved parmiggiano. Either way, it’s a very pretty presentation, and just as delicious.