Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fettuccine with Prosciutto, Tomatoes, Peas and Cream & Other Parenting Moments

Parenting moments sneak up on you at the oddest times. It's easy enough to prepare for most events: the first shots at the doctor, the first day of school, the first girlfriend, the first day of driving. You can see them coming a mile away. But then, every once in a while...

We got a pleasant surprise last weekend when CrabCake1 came home for a few days. He's been in Central America working on a Marine Sciences coral reef research project and we hadn't expected to see him until just before Christmas. His visit was a joyous upheaval. Trips to the airport, added food runs, changes to social schedules, no matter, the family was whole again.

One event we didn't change was attending a going away party for neighbors. Since he knows the people leaving, CC1 was invited to come along, even though he'd have to suffer through an evening predominantly populated by middle-age types.

We had a great time. CC1 regaled guests with stories of moray eel encounters, hearing whale songs while diving and dealing with reluctantly friendly non-English speaking natives.

It can be a bit jarring the first time you see your child the way others do. Cute coeds find a mildly amusing anecdote simply hilarious because it's delivered by a tall, handsome, fit and tan fellow student. Husbands look on with mildly bemused jealousy, recalling adventures long past or never taken. A wife leaning in a doorway listening with a lean and hungry look.

He will always be my son, he's just no longer my boy.

By tradition, by rule, returning children get to set the menu and pick their meals. One of CC1's favorites is homemade pasta with prosciutto, tomatoes, peas and cream. It's also one of the meals he loves to help out on. He and SSSal prepare the dough, roll out the pasta and cut it into shape. SSSal bemoans the fact that a couple of years ago I bought an attachment for the stand mixer that greatly speeds up the process, but minimized her one on one time with CC1. Ah well. This meal will work with box pasta, though the taste and texture won't be quite the same. Enjoy...

Fettuccine with Prosciutto, Tomatoes, Peas and Cream
inspired by Biba Caggiano's, Italy al Dente and tweaked by SSSal

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely minced onion
1/2 pound Prosciutto, chopped
2 large cans (28 oz) peeled plum tomatoes
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 TBSP butter
Scant 1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally until the onions begin to turn lightly golden brown. Add the prosciutto and saute another 2 minutes to blend the flavors.

While the onions and prosciutto are cooking run both cans of tomatoes through a food mill retaining all juices and flesh but discarding the seeds. (An alternative is to use canned crushed tomatoes, though for some reason the sauce comes out a bit thick, so use 1 1/2 large cans of crushed tomatoes and add 1/2 cup of chicken stock).

When the onions and prosciutto are lightly golden add the tomatoes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the thawed peas and a tablespoon of butter; simmer an additional 2 minutes, stirring to fully incorporate the butter.

Turn off the heat and add the heavy cream. Check for additional seasoning.

Serve sauce over cooked fettuccine.

This sauce can also be prepared with pancetta instead of prosciutto or even good old American bacon if no prosciutto or pancetta is available. If you use ordinary bacon cut back the olive oil to 1 TBSP and saute the bacon for 5 minutes before adding the onion.

OK, we're done for the day. Next time a fall soup and after that, the moment you've all been waiting for, gravy! Until then, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Oh, for you literary types, I'm well aware of the origin of "a lean and hungry look". For a quiz, without using the internet, complete the line, name the source and author.


WineWizardBob said...

Serving Chianti with this is like pulling the legs off a crab, it lives, but it ain't the right thing to do. I was all set to suggest real Lambrusco with this dish until I red the al Dente part. Emilia-Romagna is home to Prosciutto dishes like this and Lambrusco, but the E-R's like their pasta mushy, hey it's still the Communist stronghold in Italy.

Serve this with a good Valpolicella! Inexpensive ones are fine but you will taste a noticeable difference if you move up to a 15-20 dollar a bottle one. Just dont serve Chianti.

Unknown said...

It's by William Shakespeare and it's from Julius Caesar. I'm a touch shaky on the line but I believe it's in reference to Cassius and of him it's said, "I do not trust him; he has a lean and hungry look." said...

Congratulations Kurt, exactly right.

The full quote,Caesar to Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony) is:

Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men, and as such sleep a-nights,
Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.

Caesar knew something was afoot, Antony dismisses his concerns, oops!

Antony ultimately avenges Caesar with Cassius coming to a nicely gruesome end.