Monday, November 30, 2015

Farfalle with Ham, Peas and Black Pepper Parmigiana Crème





     A Tasty Chilly Weather Pasta!
     Today's pasta entrée has a classic simple flavor combination that is appealing when the weather is cold.  Peas and ham are a natural match for a peppery Parmigiana Cheese Cream Sauce.  The shape of Farfalle Pasta is easy picks up a cream sauce.
     In Italy there are many tomato sauce pastas that combine pancetta, prosciutto ham and peas.  Cream sauces are not often used for traditional Italian pastas.  The exception is in Northern Italy where many restaurant chefs cater to the tastes of Northern European visitors.
     Cream sauce pastas are far more popular in America, France, Germany and England.  In the 1980's, it seemed like every American style casual restaurant offered a cream sauce pasta on the menu.  Some of the creamy pastas from those days were okay, but most were just far too heavy or too thick.  Fortunately times have changed and modern American chefs are now featuring lighter pasta sauces, like Italian style olio d'oliva, savory vinaigrette or a la minute heirloom tomato sauce.  Heavy cream sauces are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
     Will cream sauce pastas eventually disappear altogether?  Not when the weather is cold!  There are few things that are more satisfying than a rich cream sauce pasta on an icy cold day.  A classic Carbonara has to be the king of cold weather pasta and the cream sauce version of Alfredo is not far behind.
     Many chefs call a Parmigiana Cream Sauce an Alfredo Sauce, but any gourmand knows that there is no cream in an authentic Alfredo Sauce recipe.  Chefs that know the difference differentiate the two sauces.  I always call a Parmigiana Cream Sauce what it really is.
     Just like any pasta sauce, only enough sauce should be added to the pasta, to coat the pasta with flavor.  A pasta should not be swimming in sauce!  This is especially true for cream sauce pastas.

     Farfalle with Ham, Peas and Black Pepper Parmigiana Crème:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     The sauce should not be made ahead of time.  The sauce can be made in the same amount of time that is takes to boil the pasta till it is al dente!  
     Step 1:  Thaw 3 or 4 tablespoons of frozen peas and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Start cooking 1 portion of farfalle pasta in boiling water over high heat till the pasta is cooked al dente.  (This takes about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pasta.)
     Step 3:  *The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks!
     Place a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced roasted ham.
     Sauté the ham till a few golden highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of cream.
     Bring the cream to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Add 3 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated imported Italian Parmigiana Cheese while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Stir till the cheese melts into the sauce.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3 pinches of coarse ground black pepper.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can barely coat a spoon.
     Step 7:  Keep the sauce warm over very low heat, till the pasta finishes cooking.  (Add a splash of milk if the sauce becomes too thick.)
     Step 8:  When the farfalle is cooked al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the farfalle pasta to the sauce.
     Add the reserved thawed peas.
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 9:  Mound the pasta on the center of a plate.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of coarse ground black pepper over the pasta.

     This pasta has a satisfying comfortable flavor!  The sauce needs no garlic and salt is rarely needed when Italian Parmigiana is used to make a sauce. 

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