Friday, January 27, 2006

Black Pepper Tagliatelle with Parsnips and Pancetta

L. and I spent a couple days in Siena a few years ago. No, we can't remember the name of the painter who created the Piccolomini Library murals anymore, but ask us what the local pasta is called. Pici. We loved the fat chewy strands. We tracked down a pici tool, a ribbed wooden rolling pin. We tried it out before our jet lag wore off. But the pici we made came out, not the size of slim pencils, more the size of a giant kiddie crayon and about as chewy as one too. Later, thanks to the Internet, I learned that we were supposed to roll the strings in our hands after cutting them with the roller.

But this is not about that.

This is about elegant, very thin egg noodles that surprise you with a strong peppery kick. For Amy's IMBB 22 Use Your Noodle, I wanted a pasta that bites back. Mario Batali's recipe for Black Pepper Tagliatelle with Parsnips and Pancetta spoke to me.

This time, I checked the Internet for advice before diving in, and found several suggestions to substitute sage for parsley and that the parsnips needed 12 minutes cooking time instead of 5 - 6 minutes. And my own substitution: whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour and extra parsnips.

How did it turn out? One tablespoon of butter plus the pancetta fat was not sufficient sauce for the pound of pasta. And adding pasta cooking water to the tossing pasta didn't contribute to the flavor. Pancetta with parsnips is a sweet combination of flavors. The pasta was really peppery. Things I would do differently - slice the parsnips much thinner on a mandoline. They'd be easier to cook and distribute better through the noodles. Use less than 2 T pepper in the pasta ( unless I'm just making it for me in which case I really liked the spiciness). Add olive oil or more butter. It's definitely worth trying again.

Here's the recipe.

Back Pepper Tagliatelle (slightly) adapted from the Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali
3 1/2 to 4 cups whole wheat flour
4 extra large eggs
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons ground black pepper
  • Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs, olive oil and black pepper. Using a fork, beat the egg mixture and then gradually incorporate the flour. When the dough has come together, knead it with the heels of your hand for 6 minutes more. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Roll out the dough on a pasta machine to the thinnest setting and then cut into 1/4 inch wide noodles.
  • The hardest part follows - where to hang them in your kitchen. I put them on 3 large baking trays and then on sheets of parchment paper on the table.
Black Pepper Tagliatelle with Parsnips and Pancetta

Serves 4
Kosher salt
1/4 pound Pancetta or slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon unsalted Butter
3/4 pound parsnips, peeled, halved and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
1/4 cup fresh sage, finely chopped
Parmigiano-reggiano, serving
  • Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
  • In a 12-14 inch saute pan, cook the pancetta over high heat until browned, about 10 minutes.
  • With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
  • Add the butter and parsnips and saute over high heat until they are golden brown and slightly crispy, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, add the sage and cook for 1 minute longer.
  • Cook the tagliatelle in the boiling water until al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the pan with the parsnips and pancetta. Toss over high heat, adding pasta cooking water if necessary to keep the sauce from getting too tight. Serve with grated parmesian cheese.
Here's a link to the final round up of noodle dishes.
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Anonymous Elitre said...

Not for lowcarb-obsessed people! I am sure you had a great time in Siena, it's such a lovely place... you know, I run a blog about its Palio, you may want to have a look (and, if you like it, please feel free to link to me through any word in this article or wherever you like.) Ciao!

7:11 AM  
Blogger MM said...

I like things that bite back. Er, that came out wrong ... I love the sound of the black pepper pasta and with parsnips too! I've been finding it hard to indulge my parsnips obsession as I can't find it here in Singapore. When I did it was $5 for a dried up one. Sigh. I'd love to try this recipe.

6:22 PM  

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