Wednesday Food: Fresh Pasta & Fresh Meat!

Just before the holidays, Eric and I heard our friend Amber would be getting some fresh venison from her Dad, who is a hunter.  For many of our culinary friends, whenever we hear the word venison - we perk up!  It's a delicious game meat with an earthy, distinct flavor.  We thought a nice complement to this gift of venison, would be to make our own fresh pasta to go along with it!  Sounds good, right?  We've had a pasta maker for almost 10 years now, and we don't use it nearly as much as we should.  But now that I'm blogging, it's definitely a good excuse to use it.

Even though I come from Italian heritage, we are still American.  My family rarely made their own pasta.  I've learned a bit from Eric, who has some experience making pasta while working at Globe, in San Francisco.  I've also learned a bit when I worked at Quince, where they handmade and hand cut their own fresh pasta daily.  When I started my shift, the cook making the pasta would just be finishing up.  But one fortunate AND unfortunate evening, we were short on pasta and I found myself making it with the executive chef himself, Michael Tusk.  Fortunate for me to learn a few tricks, but unfortunate that we were under the gun and needed to work fast, Fast, FAST!

Pasta making is pretty simple.  Simple ingredients and fairly simple instruction, as long as you have a pasta maker.  It had been awhile since I made it, so I found it really enjoyable!  Eric had found a recipe for pasta and it turned out great.  Unfortunately, I wasn't around for the mixing, but Eric and Amber took some great pictures.

Take your dry's in a bowl and make a well
Crack your eggs and put them in the center
Stir the eggs until they homogenize
Start mixing the wets into the drys
A funny moment in dough making...

Amber: I don't know if this is coming out right.
Eric: Just keep kneading it, the worst thing that will happen is we will have pasta!

It's going to be a fairly dry dough
Knead with your hands till the dough becomes soft and supple
After the dough rested overnight, we start rolling it.
Start with the largest setting, work your way down to desired thickness

Pasta makes me so happy!
A genius use for a paper towel rod
Is that a Maine Grain loaf from Standard Baking Company??

Drop the pasta in salted boiling water, one handful at a time. Boil till tender

 Like I said this was a great recipe, but in the future I'd like to experiment with different ones.  Maybe just using semolina flour or adding some flavors to it, maybe making my own tortellini?  We'll see where the pasta takes me!

And now on to the venison.  Amber told me that the deer we were eating was a young buck and what people would call a Spike.  This means that the deer was so young, he only had one horn and no antlers growing off of it.  Young is good because then the meat is deliciously tender.  And boy was it!  The Bolognese sauce we made was wonderfully flavored by the meat, and the meat itself was like buttah!  

Venison and Pork Bolognese

 2 garlic cloves, chopped
10 tomatoes, halved and cleaned (I'll explain in the directions)
Rosemary, Thyme and Marjoram, minced
Olive Oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1-1 1/2# venison meat (we had some ground & small steaks that we cut into chunks)
3/4# ground pork
1 6oz. can of tomato paste
about 1 c. of red wine
1 cube of veggie bouillon
about 1c. water
Salt and Pepper

1) To get things started, begin cutting your tomatoes in half and cleaning them.  Cleaning them means you take out the seeds and inner "guts" of the tomato

2) Put the halves in a bowl and toss with the chopped garlic, herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Put them on a sheet pan and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.  Till they are soft but still have some shape to them.  Once they have cooled, chop them and put them aside.

3) Start off by browning the meat in a pan.  You don't need to worry about cooking it all the way because it will cook in the sauce.  Once they are done, take them out and put it aside.

4) Next step is to saute your carrots and onions, just till softened.  Add the chopped roasted tomatoes and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Add the meat back to the veggies and stir in the tomato paste.  Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan.  Also, add water and veggie bouillon cube.  At this point, keep the sauce on a low simmer and cook for about an hour.  Taste, check if it needs salt or pepper.

5) Serve it lovely, over the pasta with some Parmesan cheese

We also sauteed some rainbow and red Swiss Chard as a side veggie.  We just chopped it and sauteed with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

Here are some more good times...

Is this how people do their cooking now?
Best part about being the cook, you get to taste test!

Now, I know many people have sworn off carbohydrates.  I myself, had a hard time when I tried to give it up.  But I love pasta.  I love the simplicity of pasta and tomatoes.  There are few things I love more than pasta.  And I felt like when I gave up the carbs, I lost all of my energy.  So I guess this post is dedicated to those who still love pasta and carbohydrates!  An apology to those who do not feel the same, but I hope you enjoy the pictures!

And remember, when the kitchen gets too hot, get back in there and keep cooking!


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