Spicy Side of Meatball Andrew is such a saucy lil cook that his work, alongside supperclubs (and friends of SLD) A Razor, A Shiny Knife and Studiofeast, recently appeared in the NY Times! Scroll through the accompanying photos to spot not one, but two SL-Dudes.
(Yeah, that’s a salad in the background. So what? It’s greens, nuts and avocado. Little lemon, yummy oil, salt n’ pepa. Shoop.)
We all have friends and family members who we love, but are impossible to shop for.
For my father, it’s me.
Fortunately, facing this annual dilemma, you know that your recipient has a hobby, so you start from there. But chances are they already have all of the equipment to participate in that hobby. Painters have brushes. Gun enthusiasts have guns. Cooks have knives.
It comes to you in a stroke of insight! Hobbies have consumable equipment!
Painters can’t have enough hard to find paints!
Gun nuts can’t have enough rare bullets! (I’m talking about those cop killers banned in the 90s. You know what I’m talking about.)
Cooks can’t have enough exotic foods!
A few years ago, I told my father about Exotic Meats USA. I was cooking with the Whisk and Ladle, and we had been using boar bacon, and bear rib eyes, even the occasional alligator and rattlesnake. Exotic Meats sourced all of it.
After presumably letting the idea marinate for the intervening years, my father decided to pull the trigger this Christmas.
Enter The Emu Egg.
It’s pretty stunning.
It weighs about as much as 9-10 chicken eggs.
Step one…Open it. The shell is at least 10 times as thick as a chicken egg. So have some tools ready.
Tools + Thumbs = Victory:
Now, what do you do with it? Well, anything that takes 10 eggs. I went for fresh pasta with a pork sauce.
I make pasta by weight, with a 3:2 flour to egg ratio.
Emu Egg Pasta:
510g Emu Egg, beaten. (~1 egg)
765g All purpose Flour (use your fancy flour if you’ve got it)
15g salt (~2tsp)
Sorry for the weight measures, but it does make the dough come out perfectly.
There are two styles of pasta making:
1) Make a flour well on a work surface. Pour in the egg and salt. Slowly incorporate flour and egg with a fork until it is solid enough to use your hand. Then start to knead.
2) Throw it all in a stand mixture. Mix until incorporated. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead.
Option #1 makes you feel like an Italian grandmother, which I like. But if you don’t want to get your hands so dirty, or you like technology a lot, go for #2.
Knead the dough until it feels smooth. It should start to feel like play dough. When you pinch it, it should spring back very slightly. When you poke your finger into the middle, it shouldn’t feel sticky. This takes between 10-20 minutes.
Cover the dough with a bit of olive oil, and wrap with saran wrap, and throw in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. This is important. It lets the flour hydrate and gets the elasticity and “bite” you want in the dough.
Roll pasta in a pasta crank. Or use a rolling pin. Here I opt for technology over tradition. But it’s up to you.
Cut into fettucini-sized strips.
When you’re ready (read, after the sauce is made), get a pot of water to a boil. Add a healthy amount of salt. The pasta will take about 3 minutes to cook, depending on how thin it was rolled.
As precise as the pasta recipe is, the sauce recipe is not.
1-2 lb pork sausage, broken apart. (as meaty as you want it)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Half a large onion.
Half as much carrot as onion
Half as much celery as onion
1 tsp red pepper flakes (skip it if using a hot Italian sausage)
2 sprigs thyme
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 sprig fresh.
1 28oz can diced tomatoes.
First make your mirepoix – diced onion, carrot, celery in a 2:1:1 ratio. If you’re feeling particularly tight, use a scale or measuring cup, but here I eyeball it. (Fun fact: mirepoix doesn’t mean anything in French, it was a royal chef’s name.)
Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Brown the sausage, and remove.
Add garlic. Cook until very lightly golden brown.
Add mirepoix. At a minimum, cook until the onions have released some liquid and are fairly translucent. (Pro tip: adding a little salt while sweating onions will keep them from browning.) At a maximum, go del posto-style, brunoise (very finely dice) the mirepoix and let it turn to mush over low heat for 4 hours.
Add pepper flakes, thyme and oregano. Let it warm a bit.
Add tomatoes. Once hot, add the sausage back in.
Simmer for at least 15 minutes, but at this point it’ll keep warm. If it gets too dry, add some water.
Toss pasta in sauce and serve.
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