I was just sitting down to breakfast with my wonderful family and the apple pancakes I had just made, when John innocently made a TERRIBLE accusation: “You know, I’ll bet the people who read our blog think that we never cook.” Well, several indignant responses and many “harrumphs!” later, I realized that yes, we have yet to share what hits the table at our little homestead. And considering that we: a) have a whole cabinet full of various cookbooks and recipes from God-knows-when that I am always looking to drag out and experiment with and b) the economy sucks and we aren’t the only ones eating at home as much as possible-we need to stop being so selfish and share them already.
I’ll start with the Sardinian-inspired dish from this past Saturday. It’s a pasta recipe I saved from Bon Appetit (May 2002); I haven’t made it in a while, and I wanted something really good to dress up the homemade pasta I had on hand in my freezer (you heard right-homemade pasta-but that recipe is for another day!). It’s sounds fancy-schmancy, but it’s actually very easy to make and incorporates the goodness of ground pork. Serve this if you want to impress somebody but don’t want to work at it. By the way, I used the canned crushed Jersey Tomatoes I got at the “Piney Jamboree” that day-I don’t know if the camera did it justice, but this sauce never had such a beautiful, deep red color! Mmmmm, pork…
SAFFRON PASTA WITH PORK AND TOMATO SAUCE
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 ounces (slices) pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 Lb. ground pork
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
12 oz. pasta
1 1/2 tsp. saffron threads, crumbled
1 cup freshly grated pecorino Sardo or Romano cheese
(I used the Grana Padano I had on hand, came out delicious)
Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta/bacon; saute till fat is rendered (@3 minutes). Add onion and parsley and saute until onion is soft (@5 min). Add ground pork and saute until brown, breaking up clumps (@ 8 min). Stir in crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and sage. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce thickens and flavors blend, stirring occasionally (@ 25 min). Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and saffron and cook until pasta is just tender, but still firm to the bite (“al dente”, folks). Drain. Return pasta to pot; add sauce and 1/2 cup cheese-toss to blend. Transfer to bowl, sprinkle with remaining cheese (or just pass it at the table) and serve.