Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pappardelle with Artichokes and Rabbit Sausage Ragu

1 package D'Artagnan Rabbit & Ginger Sausage (8.5 oz), casings removed
1 package fresh or dry pappardelle noodles (we used fresh mushroom-infused pappardelle)
3 tbsp olive oil
4 large shallots, minced
1 inch of fresh ginger, minced
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 carrot, minced
1 celery rib, minced
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped, with juice reserved
2/3 cup dry red wine
5 large deli artichoke hearts (or use marinated), quartered
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp. honey
2 fresh chives, green parts only, chopped
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, finely grated
Salt and fresh black pepper
1 22-oz bottle Pennichuck Shouboushi Ginger Pilsner

1) Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add all the rabbit sausage (without the casings) and fry until well browned, using a wooden spoon or heavy spatula to break meat into small pieces.
2) Add garlic, ginger, and shallots and sweat for 2 minutes.
3) Add carrot and celery, sauteing for approx. 5 minutes.
4) Stir in the dried thyme, red wine and the reserved tomato liquid and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced to about 1 cup.
5) Add diced tomatoes, artichoke quarters, honey, salt and pepper, and cook another 10 minutes (covered, on a low simmer) until sauce is slightly thickened and well infused with all the flavors.
6) Meanwhile, cook pappardelle according to package instructions until al dente in plenty of salted boiling water. Drain the pasta.
7) Taste your ragu to adjust its seasonings. Return pasta to the pot and add sauce along with the grated pecorino romano. Garnish with chives, additional cheese and black pepper if desired.
8) Open Shouboushi Ginger Pilsner
9) Enjoy together.

This was an interesting idea put forth by Pennichuck, a southern New Hampshire brewing company. Its execution was odd in that the pilsner doesn't really taste gingery--it's crisp and refreshing, but we expected such a dominant flavor additive to come through considerably more, without wanting it to be overpowering. When all's said and done, if you eat a ginger-based food with this beer, you may not be able to taste the ginger at all in the Shouboushi--however, the malts are nice and subtle in this particular pilsner and the overall profile is very drinkable. They certainly erred on the side of caution with this one, but there's probably something to be said for that; it's difficult to finish more than two sips of Rogue's Chipotle Ale without trying to dip a corn chip in it.

I'm not a stickler at all for the recommended pasta shape being an exact match, since there are so many variations to consider when deciding on a tasty tasty noodle, but there is one good basic rule to follow. Here we go...are you ready?

RULE: Serve thick, hearty sauces with thick, hearty noodles. Serve thin, delicate noodles with light, delicate sauces. Break this rule whenever and however you please.

Any questions about specific shapes and what in blazes to do with them? Find an excellent guide here.

In general, a ragu is best with a hearty shape, but that doesn't mean you have to run out and buy pappardelle* if you're staring into the pantry and it's causing you angst. Pasta is not about angst. Grab your dried package of lasagne noodles and break them into glorious uneven pieces. Yes, they do this in Italy when they feel like it and no one from the Sopranos is going to arrive at your house and break your kneecaps for Pasta Sacrilege.

*If you have time and/or are bored, run out and buy fresh pappardelle by all means. It's my favorite noodle. If you were to get me noodles for my birthday, I'd want fresh pappardelle noodles. My birthday is July 26th, and the best pappardelle noodles in the world are the mint-flavored ones with lamb ragu from my old workplace Osteria Laguna, pictured above.

1 comment:

Mickey said...

13 months? It took me 13 months to make this? I should have my head examined. This is a brilliant dish. Thanks for giving it to the world, especially to us.