Friday, November 3, 2017

Cavatelli with Porcini Mushroom & Sausage Ragù

Watching an episode of L'Arte di Cucinare with Chef Gianni Ceschia on Italian TV one evening, I was spellbound as he prepared homemade cavatelli using Fante's 'Cousin Elisa's' Cavatelli Maker, a small device with wooden rollers that clamps easily to a tabletop, and makes perfectly formed cavatelli every time. I was so entirely captivated by the machine that I immediately ordered it online, and was even more impressed when it arrived two days later. Using a foolproof recipe for making pasta dough that I learned from Chef Massimo Bruno that uses just three simple ingredients, the kneading of the dough takes about 15 minutes, however making the cavatelli using my new machine took mere seconds. Sprinkling the pasta with a little flour to avoid it from sticking together, the next step is making the Porcini Mushroom and Sausage Ragù. A simple and delicious sauce, this easy ragù can be prepared in about 30 minutes, by simply sautéing the porcini, garlic and parsley until fragrant, followed by the sausage, 'nduja and tomato paste which are cooked until browned. White wine and rich porcini liquid are added at the end to create a lovely ragù, after which the cooked cavatelli are combined with the sauce and garnished with some extra parsley and grated pecorino. 

Fante's 'Cousin Elisa's' Cavatelli Maker - my new pride and joy!

Semola Di Grano Duro Rimaninata, warm water and olive oil are the only three ingredients 
required for the pasta dough

Once the dough is mixed together, it is kneaded for about 15 minutes until it becomes soft, smooth and elastic

The dough is cut into 6 pieces and each is rolled into long snake-like cylinders

Each length of dough is fed through the cavatelli maker and voilà — perfect cavatelli in seconds

Dried porcini with a cup of hot water allows the mushrooms to rehydrate

A tablespoon of tomato paste — I freeze any leftovers from a can for future use 
when all that is required is a tablespoon 

The squeezed dry mushrooms, garlic and parsley are sautéed until fragrant, about one minute

The pork sausage meat is added and using a wooden spoon, broken up so that it browns evenly

The tomato paste and njuda are added and the sauce is cooked for about 5 minutes

Some white wine, strained porcini liquid and chopped parsley are added as the sauce develops

The homemade cavatelli are cooked in boiling water until they rise to the surface, 
then are added to the sauce

Cavatelli with Porcini Mushroom & Sausage Ragù
Serves 2-4

1 cup Semola Di Grano Duro Rimaninata (remilled durum wheat semolina)
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, for adding to boiling the pasta

3/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 fresh pork sausages, removed from the casing
2 tbsp ‘nduja 
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, washed and dried
1/2 cup grated Parmigiana
Extra virgin olive oil

Place the flour in a large bowl and make a hole in the centre. Pour in some warm water and olive oil and mix together slowly with a fork until the dough comes together, is no longer sticky and becomes hard to mix with the fork. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a clean surface. Massage the dough by pulling and stretching it out until it becomes soft, smooth and elastic, about 10-20 minutes. Slice into 6 pieces and using your hands, roll each piece into long snake-like cylinders about the thickness of a cigarette. Once all the dough has been rolled out, sprinkle some semolina onto a clean surface, and slowly feed one end into the cavatelli maker rollers and turn the crank. It will grab the dough, and cut it while simultaneously making impressions on the outside. Repeat until all pasta is formed, and place on a floured cookie sheet. Alternately, the pasta can be dried more completely and stored in baggies in the freezer for later use — place the trays of pasta, arranged in single layers, in the freezer for a few minutes before putting them in bags to keep them from sticking together.

To make the ragù, begin by placing the dried mushrooms in a cup of warm water and allow to to soak for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile finely chop the garlic and the stems of 3 or 4 pieces of parsley. Pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a sauté pan placed over medium heat, then add the garlic and a teaspoon of finely chopped parsley stems and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Using your hands remove the mushrooms from the water, squeezing out as much water as possible, and add them to the pan. Once they've browned 2 or 3 minutes, add the sausage meat and using a wooden spoon, break it up so it browns evenly. Scoop out some of the ‘nduja and add to the pan along with the tomato paste. Cook while stirring for about 5 minutes so the sauce comes together. Add the wine and some chopped parsley. Then add 1/2 cup of the porcini broth avoiding any gritty sediment on the bottom from the mushrooms. Add a tablespoon or two of minced parsley.

While the sauce is cooking, add the fresh pasta a pot of boiling water and cook for only about 5 minutes — the pasta will be done when it float to the top. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the pasta, along with any pasta water that's attached, to the sauce. Using a wooden spoon, gently toss the pasta and sauce so the mixture becomes well incorporated. At the end, remove the pasta from the heat and add the cheese, and mix in. Finish with some roughly chopped parsley and serve.

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