From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...A front moved in today and what had been a glorious stretch of weather changed suddenly to a horizontal downpour with periods of hail. It was not a day to venture out and because I was housebound, I had the opportunity to try a pasta recipe developed by Marcella Hazan. It's been in my files for a while now and it happened that I had all the ingredients I needed to prepare it on hand. I did substitute the diced lamb she recommended with ground lamb that I had sitting in my freezer, but other than that, I followed her recipe to the letter. This turned out to be one of those pleasant surprises that occasionally happen in our kitchens. This is a delicious sauce and it will be moving into my regular menu rotation. The lamb and rosemary give this sauce amazing flavor and they take a fairly standard pantry red sauce to a much higher level. I think you are going to love this. It is fast and simple to prepare and you can have this pasta on the table in less than an hour. It was so effortless that I decided to make hard rolls to accompany it. The rolls require a 2 hour sponge, so I had to prepare them earlier in the day, but they still had a crisp and crackly crust when I served them with our dinner. It was a really satisfying meal. I do hope you'll try both these recipes. The lamb sauce is truly outstanding and I really think you'll enjoy it. Here is how the pasta and rolls are made.
Pasta with Abruzi-Style Lamb Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Marcella Hazan
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 pound boneless lamb, cut into very fine dice or ground lamb
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juices
1 pound penne
1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
1) Put oil and onion in a large skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until onion is pale gold. Add pancetta and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta fat is rendered but the pancetta is still soft. Add lamb and cook until browned, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Add wine and simmer until evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer gently, stirring from time to time, until fat begins to separate from the sauce, about 15 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add 1-1/2 tablespoons of coarse salt, cover and return to a boil.
Add pasta to pot and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon. Cover and bring back to a boil. Uncover and cook pasta, stirring frequently, until it is al dente. Drain pasta and immediately transfer it to a warmed bowl. Toss with the lamb sauce and the 1/3 cup of grated cheese. Serve at once. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
Italian Hard Rolls...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite adapted from A Passion for Baking
2 Hour Sponge
1 cup warm water
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups bread flour
Sponge from above
Finishing touches: flour, for dusting
melted butter or olive oil
1) To make sponge: Mix ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until mixture has a pudding-like consistency. Cover loosely and let bubble and stand for 2 hours.
2) To make dough: Add water, honey, olive oil, salt, and flour to sponge in mixing bowl, stirring to combine. Attach dough hook and knead on lowest speed of mixer, about 8 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessarily to make a cohesive, elastic dough. Spray clean bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough in pan and turn to coat all surfaces with spray. Cover bowel with clean towel and let rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 60 to 90 minutes.Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate. Divide dough in 12 portions. Shape into oblong rolls.
Place rolls on preared baking sheet and let rise 20 to 30 minutes, until puffy. score rolls, leave them plain, or snip them with scissors for decorative effect. Dust with flour if desired.
3) To bake rolls: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray rolls lightly with water, spritz oven and wall. Bake until done and rolls are brown all over, 25 -28 minutes. For shiny rolls with less crispy crust, paint with melted butter or olive oil before baking. Yield: 12 large rolls.
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