Monday, April 6, 2015

Calabaza Pasta with Roasted Ham and Danish Bleu Cheese Tomato Crème







     A Modern Artisan Pasta With A Rich Tasting Flavor Combination!
     Calabaza shaped artisan pasta looks like little pumpkins!  The shape of this artisan pasta picks up sauce nicely.
     Danish Bleu Cheese (Danablu) is modeled after French Roquefort.  The fat content is high at nearly 30%, so when Danish Bleu is young it has a soft creamy texture that borders on being spreadable.  Danish Bleu that is ripened for more than 12 weeks will be a bit a bit more dense and it can be easier to crumble.
     For the most part young creamy Danish Bleu is what most American grocery stores carry.  Aged Danish Bleu can be found in specialty shops.  Both have an ample amount of sharp Penicillium roqueforti flavor, but the taste of soft fresh Danish Bleu is a little more mellow.
     Danish Bleu Cheese tastes good with tomato and ham.  It is not necessary to heavily season today's crème sauce, because the ingredients have plenty of flavor on their own.  It is important to not overcook a bleu cheese sauce or the sauce will take on an unappealing rancid flavor.  The sauce should be made to order shortly before serving or the sauce should be chilled and reheated to order.  Keeping a bleu cheese sauce warm in a bain marie for an extended time will negatively change the character of the sauce.

     Acidic tomatoes like California or Spanish Tomatoes are not a good choice for a Bleu Cheese Tomato Crème Sauce, because acidic material will break down the complex cheese flavor.  Sweet ripe tomatoes, like Italian San Marzano Tomatoes or fully ripened fresh plum tomatoes are best for today's pasta sauce.

     There is a problem with design of some brands of thin gauge Calabaza Pasta.  The ribs of the pumpkin shape do tend to split apart at the seam, no matter how carefully the pasta is cooked.  If this is the case with a thin gauge calabaza pasta that was chosen, then add a little extra Calabaza Pasta to the pot and discard the broken pieces of pasta.
     Thick gauge pumpkin shaped pasta is easier to work with.  Seeking durable Calabaza Pasta often results in sacrificing a delicate texture.  
 
     Calabaza Pasta with Roasted Ham and Danish Bleu Cheese Tomato Crème:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.
     An acidic dry white wine is not a good choice for this recipe.  A wet white wine is a better choice.  A semi dry White Burgundy Chardonnay or fruity semi dry Bordeaux Blanc is best for this recipe.  The same can be said about a wine pairing.  A semi dry Bordeaux Blanc with crisp apple overtones is a perfect wine pairing match.
     The choice of roasted ham for this pasta should be quality oriented.  The salt content should not be high.  A light cured Virginia Ham with the bone attached is a good choice.  Pieces of ham that were roasted for a meal the previous day is best for this recipe.    
     Step 1:  Cook 1 large portion of Calabaza Pasta in salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil, till the pasta is cooked al dente.
     Gently cool the pasta by placing the pot under cold running water.
     Leave the pasta in the cold water for a couple of minutes.
     Drain the water off of the pasta and set it aside.
     *If thin walled Calabaza Pasta is used, discard the broken or split pasta pieces.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Sauté till the shallot turns clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 1/3 cup of chopped peeled and seeded fresh plum tomato.
     Sauté the tomato till it is tender.
     Step 4:  Add 4 ounces of hand pulled small pieces of roasted ham.  (Hand pulled pieces of ham have a nicer visual appearance than diced ham.)
     Sauté till the ham is hot and aromatic.
     Step 5:  Add 3 ounces of semi dry white wine.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 3/4 cup of cream.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a very thin sauce consistency.  (a soupy consistency)
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 3 ounces of sliced imported Danish Bleu Cheese while stirring.
     Stir till the cheese melts into the cream sauce.
     Step 7:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin sauce consistency.  
     Step 8:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add the reserved portion of prepared Calabaza Pasta.
     Gently toss the pasta and sauce together.
     Step 9:  Mound the pasta on a plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
  
     The pumpkin shaped pasta does look pretty on a plate!  The cardinal rule of saucing pasta is that there should only be enough sauce to coat the pasta with flavor!

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