Pasta Cooked Like a Risotto Home
This gorgeous traditional orecchiette-with-broccoli recipe is a staple on my table. The pasta is cooked with the sauce, a unique process much favored by French chef Alain Ducasse.
I have been cooking this lovely traditional Italian recipe for years. The pasta is put uncooked in the sauce and water is added ladle by ladle until the pasta is cooked releases its starches to make a thick sauce. Although the two main ingredients are the same, the result is very different from the traditional Sicilian Pasta Coi Broccoli.
This unique way of cooking pasta is much favored by French top chef Alain Ducasse, who recently launched a special designer pasta pot to cook pasta like risotto. Ducasse says this cooking process came from Ligurian olive pickers who had to carry the water used for cooking. They gathered herbs, mushrooms or snails on the way up to the olive groove and cooked everything in a pot with as little water as they could - just like a risotto.
You don't need Mr Ducasse's pricey pan to enjoy this unique and tasty way of cooking pasta today in your own kitchen - just follow the instructions.
Pasta With Brocoli
Cooked like a risotto
500 gr orecchiette
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
2 anchovy fillets
1 chili (chipotle or serrano)
400gr crushed tomatoes
1 glass dry white wine
150 gr pecorino
Try to find orecchiette or other semolina-flour dry pasta. Peel the garlic, chop the onion, crumble the chili and cut the broccoli in bite-size florets.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and crush the garlic into the hot oil and fry until medium brown. Remove it, squeezing the oil back into the pan. Why remove the garlic? I love garlic too, but most of the flavor is now dissolved in the olive oil. The brown garlic remains are discarded because their taste is no longer so attractive - just try and eat some to see for yourself. This process of flavoring the olive oil with garlic and removing it later is one hallmark of good Italian cooking.
Add the chopped onions
and fry over medium-high temperature until soft. Increase the temperature and add the chopped anchovy fillets
(picture above). Cook for a minute over high heat, then pour a glass of white wine
into the pan. A miracle happens - the anchovy fillets will disappear. They dissolve into the wine within a few seconds and are never seen again. This is a culinary legerdemain that never ceases to amaze me. The anchovy contributes to the sauce's come-back-for-more appeal and nobody will guess its presence.
Add the pasta and a bowl of water.
Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt, mix and bring to a boil (photo
). Don't over salt - there is already salted anchovy fillets and we'll be adding pecorino.
Now comes the big catch-22, the chicken-and-egg dilemma. When do you put the broccoli in? Should you not add the broccoli before the pasta? The only certainty is that they will finish cooking together. Put the pasta too soon
and it will be overcooked
. Add the broccoli too late
and it will be so hard you'll choke on it. My bought orecchiette need about 20 minutes to cook. I reckon the broccoli florets are done in about 15 minutes. These 5 minutes of waiting between adding the pasta and letting the broccoli join in are very hard on the cook's nerves!
Continue to cook over medium-high heat, adding 1-2 glasses of water at at time. You won't strain the pasta - whatever liquid remaining in the saucepan will be part of the sauce. If you add too much water
you will manage to boil off only a certain amount of water before turning everything into a hopelessly overcooked mush. But as practice comes, you don't really need to add the water as gradually as for risotto. I usually start with about 4 glasses water and then add whatever is required.
When both orecchiette and broccoli are cooked, summon your guests to the table, open the wine and grate the pecorino.
Add the pecorino directly in the saucepan to dissolve it and thicken the sauce even more.
The pasta is ready to serve - I apologize for the poor quality of the picture which doesn't do justice to the extraordinary appeal of this homey dish. When the guests have left, don't forget to scrape and eat the bottom of the pan - that's the best part.
This is no gadget recipe demonstrating some funny food physics but rather a truly exceptional dish consecrated by a century-old tradition and France's top chef alike.
Try it at home and let me know!
Copyright FXcuisine 2013 - all rights reserved.
If you do this recipe at home please let me know how it worked for you by submitting a comment or send me a picture if you can. Thanks!