Saturday, August 6, 2016

Mezzi Occhi di Lupo Pasta con Finocchio, Portobello e Uova

     Wolf's Eye Pasta with Florence Fennel, Portobello and Egg!
     It has been a while since I have cooked a simple butter olive oil and egg Italian pasta.  At some of the Northern Italian restaurants that I worked in, the chefs occasionally made pastas like this as a personal employee meal.  When I asked how it tasted, one Italian chef replied by saying this with a mouth full of food; "Its cheap!"
     Eggs are cheap food.  The best restaurants that I have worked in were always run like tight ships.  Employees in the kitchen were expected to eat cheap food.  For the waitstaff, Italian chefs often served pasta with tomato sauce with poached eggs on top.  That is a cheap employee meal.
     In Northern Italy, butter is more frequently used in cooking than it is in Southern Italy.  Olive oil pasta sauces are common in Southern Italy and they are popular in Northern Italy too.  Butter and olive oil combined with chopped boiled egg does taste nice and gentle with pasta.  The hard egg yolk adds body to the butter and olive oil sauce, which helps the sauce cling to the pasta.
     Flavors that go well with egg are in today's pasta recipe.  Florence fennel has a nice light anise flavor.  Garlic, mushrooms and parsley taste good with eggs.  Marjoram is an herb that is used in a few traditional Italian recipes and many French recipes.  Marjoram adds an aromatic minty oregano flavor that compliments the flavor of egg.

     2 boiled eggs are needed for this recipe!
     I know this may be redundant for many readers, but cooking a hard boiled egg should be done a certain way. 
     • Eggs that are 2 weeks old are easier to peel than fresh eggs.  
     • Always boil eggs in salted water.
     • A boiling time of 10 to 12 minutes will result in a fully cooked egg with no gray color on the yolk.  The boiling time clock starts at the first sign of the water boiling.   
     • Cool the boiled eggs by placing the pot under cold running water.
     • Peel the eggs under cold running water.  

     Mezzi Occhi di Lupo Pasta con Finocchio, Portobello e Uova:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.
     This is an "a la minute" pasta, so the goal is to finish cooking the sauce and pasta at the same time.
     This pasta is not quite as easy to make as it looks!  It is important to make sure that the ingredients do not brown or become dry. 
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of Mezzi Occhi di Lupo Pasta in boiling water, till it is al dente.
     *The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks!
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped garlic.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Sauté till the onions start to turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 1/3 cup of small chopped florence fennel bulb and stalks.  (anise bulb)
     Add 2 small portobello mushrooms that are cut into thin wedges.
     Sauté till the florence fennel starts to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add the chopped white part of 1 green onion.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Simmer and reduce till 1 tablespoon of liquid remains in the pan. 
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped fennel top green leaves.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 1/2 finely chopped hard boiled large eggs.  (Save the extra half of an egg for a garnish!)
     Stir the butter olive oil sauce, as the butter melts, so it partially emulsifies.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Step 6: *If the pasta is not ready, then remove the pan from the heat.  Gently reheat the sauce when the pasta finishes cooking.
     Drain the water off of the pasta when it is al dente.
     Add the pasta to the sauce.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 7:  Mound the pasta on a plate.
     Garnish with 1/2 of a boiled egg and a sprig of Italian Parsley.
     Serve with finely grated Parmigiana Cheese on the side.

     This is a nice pasta for those who have a craving for gentle flavors!

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