Saveur magazine did a whole spread this month on the revitalization of Roman iconic dishes and I found a very simple technique amidst some really amazing recipes that I hope to try soon. “What is this technique, Danielle?”, you ask…sauteing coarsely cracked black peppercorns in olive oil until nice and toasty and then tossing your favorite pasta (in my case pappardelle) into it and topping it with the best Italian cheese you can find and a sprinkling of good sea salt, that’s what. Can’t get too much simpler than that! See…easy peasy. The peppercorns become a little softer so that when you bite into them they’re sort of crispy then they just melt away into the pasta and cheese. The aroma and flavor is incredible! Why I never thought to do this is beyond me.
This revelation happened to coincide with the arrival of a copy of David Chang’s “Momofuku” yesterday in the mail. I promptly plopped my butt on the couch and dove in. I was reading along and there were two things I immediately needed to try (actually there were three but the third belongs in an upcoming post yet to be written). The first? Miso butter. Miso. Butter.Think on that for a moment…yeah, I know, fabulous, right?
“Well that was wonderful, Danielle, but what is the second thing?” I’m glad you asked! Slow-poached eggs in the shell. “Huh?” You heard me. Chang and his crew developed this technique by way of re-inventing the Ramen noodle bowl. Typically, Ramen is served with a hard boiled egg but they wanted to be different so they came up with using poached eggs but poaching an egg for every bowl of Ramen that got served in the restaurant was simply impossible. And you say, “Yeah, so…?” Well, think for a minute…have you ever wanted to make Eggs Benedict for a brunch? Serve a salad with frisee topped with a poached egg for a dinner party? These can be made a day ahead and be simply heated up under warm running water for a minute or so! Holy crap! This is huge! I had to give it a try. My first and only attempt thus far was almost successful. The water temperature went a little higher than it should have while I was distracted by something else so I ended up with a medium-boiled yolk instead of one that was nice and runny. The final dish was still delicious but I will just have to pay close attention next time. Not easy to do. I have the attention span of a gnat!
Chang serves his slow-poached egg atop roasted asparagus with a shmear of miso butter and a sprinkle of black pepper. I added the black pepper pasta on the side to make it more substantial for dinner and my mind was blown. You kind of drag a little of the miso butter in with some pasta asparagus and egg with a fork so you get a little bit of everything and it is so fabulous you are really not going to believe it. The miso butter is a very strong flavor so i wouldn’t toss the pasta with it. Just little bits here and there while your eating is plenty. You can of course just make a regular poached egg for this if it’s just for a couple of people but now you have the option of making this for a crowd. How cool is that!
One other important note: If you are going to try the whole recipe it is very important to omit the cheese from the pasta recipe and to use unsalted butter for the miso butter otherwise the whole dish will become too salty and overpowering. Enjoy!
Recipe: Cheese and Pepper Pasta (Cacio e Pepe)
Saveur Magazine; Issue #128
Kosher salt, to taste
1 lb. pasta, preferably tonnarelli or spaghetti
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, plus more
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
3⁄4 cup finely grated Cacio de Roma
Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente, 8–10 minutes; reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain pasta. Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pepper; cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Ladle 3⁄4 cup pasta water into skillet; bring to a boil. Using tongs, transfer pasta to skillet; spread it evenly. Sprinkle 3⁄4 cup each Pecorino Romano and Cacio de Roma over pasta; toss vigorously to combine until sauce is creamy and clings to the pasta without clumping, about 2 minutes, adding some pasta water if necessary. Transfer to 4 plates and sprinkle with remaining Pecorino and more pepper.
Recipe: Black Pepper Pasta with Roasted Asparagus, Miso Butter and a Poached Egg
1 recipe Pepper Pasta (without the cheese)
1/2 cup Shiro Miso (White)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 bunch of asparagus, roasted
4 poached eggs
I think you can take it from here!
Technique: Slow-Poached Eggs
From Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan
4 large eggs
1. Fit a large pot with a rack and fill with water. Place over lowest possible heat.
2. Heat water to between 140 and 145 degrees; add eggs to pot. Cook eggs 40 to 45 minutes, checking temperature regularly; add ice cubes if water gets too hot.
3. Use eggs immediately or transfer to an ice-water bath to chill. Drain, and transfer to refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Warm eggs under piping hot tap water for 1 minute before using.