Monday, October 6, 2008

Noodles, redux

Patricia Wells, At Home in Provence is an inspiring book for fifteen reasons. I was reminded of why this book should be on the shelf of every cook, even those who don't really cook when I was making lunch today. There are recipes for every level of kitchen hand, and just as important, the rich photos of food as you will find it in Provence: fresh, in a riot of vibrant colors, rustic, driven to earthy, divine perfection.

That is the book, this recipe, however, is called Catalan Fried Noodles and may not in fact be from Provence, but it is not far off then. The first time I read it was highly suspect: Bake dried pasta? Then cook brown dried pasta in chicken broth? Until the broth is nearly gone? Then use aioli as a sauce?

Oh, I smiled as I made this dish, I know somewhere my sister-in-law Micah is cringing. But if you are a person who eats relatively plain-Jane food, this will not bother you in the least though it will serve to surprise that this unlikely method and this even more unlikely group of ingredients is such a joy. It might, indeed start you down a road of experimentation. Because you never know, you might the Hostess was right about several of these highly suspect food suggestions. And Patricia Wells has not enjoyed a long and prosperous career because she did not know what she was doing. This tastes the way a fall Sunday lunch should: Rich, but not cloying. Warm and comforting. Oh, I wished I could have a glass of wine but pesky junior is not supposed to be second-hand drinking, evidently. Mrs. Wells recommends "thrist quenching" wine here, a young Rhone, a rose from Provence...

Another note on Junior: He or she also cannot consume raw eggs. I have included both the aoili as I would have made it when not pregnant, and a method to avoid raw eggs, which was also delicious. However, given the choice, always make your own with super fresh eggs. It is worth the trouble.

I served this with leftover (no, that is not a four letter word) roasted Roma tomatoes and crostini from last night: They were wonderful too, but that is a story for another day.

I hope you step out there on the wild side with your pasta and give this a roll. Who knows, you might even find yourself consuming Syrian Chicken before long!

Traditional Aioli (garlic mayonnaise)
adapted from Patricia Wells, At Home in Provence
makes 2 cups

Special equipment: Mortar and pestle

1 cup boiling water
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pour boiling water into the mortar to heat it. Discard the water and quickly dry the mortar.Place the garlic and salt in the mortar and mash together with the pestle to make a smotth paste.

Add the egg yolks. Stir, pressing slowly and evenly with the pestle, always stiring in the same direction. Continue stirring and gradually ass just a few drops of oil. With a whisk, whisk quickly until fully incorporated. When the mixture thickens, and the remaining oil ina slow, steady stream, whisking quickly and constantly. Keep refridgerated if not using immediately.

Mock "Aioli"
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cup Hellman's Light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fesh squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients until thoroghly incorporated. Place in the refridgerate to allow flavor to develop, for one hour (preferrably).

Catalan Noodles
adapted from Patricia Wells, At Home in Provence, Catalan "Fried" Noodles
Makes 4 meal-sized servings

You need not be too particular in breaking up the pasta: Take small handfuls of angel hair and
break them in half. then break each half in half again. The idea is that this is a short, very fine pasta and I find this works far better than the diea of "cutting" dried pasta - what a nuisance!

1 pound angel hair pasta (Barilla is my prefernece) broken up into 2 inch lengths (see note above)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more is needed
4 cups chicken stock (I used Zuni's recipe, which I keep plently of in the freezer at all times)
1 recipe Aioli (choose one of the above)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a large, rimmed baking sheet, place the olive oil. Spread it around with your fingers to be sure it reaches all corners of the sheet. Add the pasta to the sheet, tossing until covered with the olive oil and adding a little bit more oil if you really cannot get all the pasta covered. This is what the pasta will look like when baked:

Here is a close up:

Place the pan in the oven and bake, shaking and tossing with oven-mitt covered hands every couple of minutes, until all the pasta has turned golden brown, about seven minutes total. Do not burn the pasta, if this happens, yo umust discard it and begin again on a clean sheet.

In a large pot over high heat, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the browned noodles and stir to blend. Cook, at this heat, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about seven minutes. You want the noodles to retain some stock as it will become the sauce/ gravy for the dish.

Stir a few tablespoons of the aioli into the noodles. Transfer to warm shallow serving dish or individual soup bowls and serve immediately, with a dollop of aioli in the center of the noodles and a bowl of the remaining aioli on the side for the guest's condiment.

1 comment:

Visual Vamp said...

Hi darling hostess,
A wonderful detailed post as usual!
I tagged you for a quirky game today, and added you to my blog roll.
Visit me, if you want to play.
xo xo