Man, do I love pasta. All kinds- any time. I love to cook it. I love to eat it. I love making it, too.
I was inspired this week by some ingredients I got in recently. Naturally, we're still reeling in mushrooms from last week. But, I received a shipment of Berskshire pork cheeks. Now, for those of you who are turning an eyebrow or nostril up, let me explain.
Berskshire pork is simply one of the most flavorful breeds of hog you can eat. And, cheek meat is just that; it's meat that comes from behind the jowls of the animal. The muscle doesn't get a whole lot of a workout, and so when it's braised, it's fall-apart tender.
We've braised the pork with root vegetables, garlic, red wine and veal stock for a few hours, until tender. We then strain and reserve the stock, now extraordinarily flavorful, to use as a sauce.
This is where the mushrooms come in. We cook up some meaty mushrooms, like crimini, royal trumpets or portobello. We add shallots and a little garlic to them, followed by another dash or two of wine, and ladle in some of that reserved stock.
We just made some fresh pappardelle today at UCG. As the sauce is reducing, take your fresh pasta, and give it a quick blanch in boiling, salty water. Add a little bit of fresh herbs and whole butter to your sauce, and then toss the pasta in the sauce. Use a nice deep bowl and lay out your pasta first. Spoon the ragout, or sauce, over the pasta. Grate some fresh parmesan, or pecorino cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme, oregano or rosemary.