First off, it's been a while since I've posted. It's been a busy fall between football and hockey so not a lot of entertaining lately here at La Cucina. Rest assured there have been some good meals and tasty cocktails in that time, just haven't had the time to write about them. This winter will be filled with parties and fun dinners so I expect to be updating this blog much more regularly over these winter months.
So it's just me and Titus (the dog) tonight. The boss (meaning my better half, Sara) is in NJ with Grace for a hockey game so I can stay home and watch Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game. Chili is in NYC with a buddy of his for a birthday trip. That means I get to cook something for dinner that the rest of the family wouldn't necessarily want to eat. I have no problem cooking for myself and eating by myself. I often prefer it that way.
So what to cook? Of course pasta. I went with bucatini tonight. No particular reason, just felt like it. Bucatini is kind of like a thick spaghetti - round - but has a hole through the middle so it's a little thicker. The hole supposedly helps to absorb more sauce. As always, use a good quality pasta. What you want to look for is one that is extruded through a bronze die (this gives it a rough texture, better to absorb any sauce) and and dried at a low temperature (usually 120 degrees or less). If you can find and afford pasta from Gragnano, Italy go for it. It's the best in the world.
So, what to put on my pasta? I was thinking mushrooms and truffles and a little shrimp so here's what I did:
I cooked the pasta in heavily salted water. As always, it should be like your cooking your pasta in the ocean - that salty.
While the pasta was cooking I sautéed garlic and crushed red pepper in some good olive oil over a low heat. Once that was going good I added some sliced mushroom blend that I had gotten at Wegman's this morning. It was portabella, shitake and oyster mushrooms. After a minute or two I added some of the water I was cooking the pasta in and turned the heat up. I also added some white wine at this time (don't ask me how much). By the time most of the liquid was evaporated the pasta was almost cooked, but not quite.
That was the time to scoop the pasta out the cooking water and drop it in the pan where I was cooking the sauce. In went some raw, peeled shrimp, some of the cooking cooking water, some truffle infused butter (also bought at Wegman's) and some black truffle salt. The key is to let the pasta finish cooking in this so it can absorb all the flavors going on. I kept adding the cooking water gradually as it evaporated and was absorbed until the pasta was done. Once the pasta was almost done I added some truffle infused olive oil. As soon as the pasta was at the right texture it was out the pan and into the dish and garnished with some chopped flat leaf parsley. Added a little shaved parmesan and it was all set. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the earthy pungent aroma of the black truffle mixed with the brininess if the shrimp make this sooooo good. Keep it simple and easy, with good ingredients and you're all set. A little sauvignon blanc to wash it down - now that's a meal!