This was kind of an impromptu meal, given that we had no idea that we were going to have guests that evening.
As mentioned in our earlier posts, we wanted to do fresh pasta one of these days. We just had no idea that one of these days was today.
We assumed that the easiest to do of the fresh pastas would be something like papardelle or tagliatelle, given that it doesn't have to be rolled out too thinly. Mario gave us the gift of maltagliati and we did need it. When we were getting ready to roll out the pasta into papardelle or tagliatelle, a little imp stole into the kitchen and demanded that he "help" us. He pulled out his stool and waited for his strips of pasta. We asked him to flour the strips together so they would not stick to each other. They still did stick to one another and some of the pasta strips kind of folded over onto themselves. Oh well. It is "badly formed."
We were debating what to pair with the squash pasta. We debated between game birds (good in theory but where were we going to get game birds at this stage of the game?), duck (might be too complicated so that will be another post), seafood (too much work, with the cooking and deshelling). Finally, we thought of pork tenderloin. It seemed the most hassle-free and it cooks fairly quickly. We had about 2.5 hours to prepare before the guests came.
This is our first (more or less) "plated" dish for a dinner party. We're not sit-down kind of people. So without further ado, these here are the components for our dish:
pork tenderloin medallions with grainy dijon mustard
squash maltagliati w/ creamy Parmiggiano-Reggiano brown butter squash sauce
sautéed balsamic portobello mushrooms
Here's that old familiar squash and yam again. (I don't know why I photographed one with the skin on and the other naked.)
I roasted the pieces with olive oil.
Golden-Orange-and-Delicious and waiting to be puréed:
I melted/browned some butter (adding the used up vanilla pod from the panna cotta)...
...and added that to the roasted squash/yam in the food processor.
Done! I could've just eaten this straight up like this. And well, I did! We had plenty of this left over. This brown butter-squash combo is "gold, Jerry, GOLD!" It was slightly sweet from the yams, earthy, rich, fragrant from the butter and had a luscious mouthfeel.
Now for the vegetables. The broccolini were a straight in-and-out oven operation.
(They sort of look exactly the same! Haha.)
I sliced some portobellos...
...and prepped the lemon and parsley for them.
A quick sauté with balsamic vinegar...
...then a toss with lemon juice, lemon zest and parsley, and they were done.
(The acidity from the mushrooms worked really well with the rich pasta and sauce. I'm saying this now just to let you know that those three mushrooms were so NOT enough.)
I grated the Parmiggiano-Reggiano and roasted & chopped some walnuts.
We wanted the pork tenderloin to be fairly simple and neutral because I really wanted to showcase the pasta in this dish. It was pure porky goodness with a touch of grainy dijon.
I removed the silverskin and seasoned the pork...
...then seared them on the stove. A quick rub of grainy dijon and in the oven they went.
They had a little R&R...
...and into medallions they became.
Now... onto the deformed star of the show!
We had our maltagliati piles waiting (see how they came into being), so we had to make the sauce before getting them to boiling water.
I infused some cream with garlic, bay and nutmeg.
Then, in went the squash/yam purée to transform the concoction into something smooth and rich and silky. I could've strained the purée first before adding it to the cream, but I didn't feel like going French that evening.
The maltagliati (man, that word is hard to type!) went into some boiling water and into the sauce.
A quick Parmiggiano-Reggiano addition, and it was done! Woohoo.
In the meantime, the guests were arriving, so we sliced up some GIGANTORMOUS foccacia bread and served it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The bread was warmed, of course!
Look, it's HUGE!
Now that they were occupied, we plated!
On the plate, in more or less this order:
sautéed balsamic-lemon portobellos
pork tenderloin medallions
Fresh pasta is delicious. When I go into a restaurant and see the option of fresh pasta, I would always take fresh pasta.
I was a little concerned about the deformities of our pasta, because a lot of them seem to have twisted onto themselves. I was happy to see them float to the top in nice, thick ribbons! So yellow and looking so delicious.
The cooked pasta was toothsome, just the way I like it. I thought the sauce was a tad too sweet, but good thing there were the walnuts and the parmiggiano to counter the sweetness. If there was anything to complain, it was that the sauce was not silken enough. We are not at the point yet of running the puree through a sieve to get that silky smoothness so highly prized.
The pork was the last-minute meat decision and I was pleasantly surprised that it seemed to have flavour. I really was expecting that grey meat taste of pork that I seem to have run into a lot lately, much to my chagrin.
Mushrooms. There was not enough of them.
The broccolini was good. Perhaps it should have been more lemon-y, but it was good as is.
For dessert, as you well know, we had Buttermilk Panna Cotta.
And that's all, folks! All in a good day's work.
Bye, squash maltagliati. Until we meet again.
Sunday, March 16, 2008