Saturday, August 20, 2011
Penne with Beef Neck
I've noticed recently that I've been seeing more of the less popular cuts of meat at the local grocery stores, and that people have actually been buying them more frequently (someone beat me out to a big package of cheap pork trimmings on my last shopping trip!). The reality of the economic times we live in seems to be bringing back some of the tricks our parent's and grandparent's generations used to stretch their grocery dollar, and make the most out of the more readily available cheap cuts of meat rather than the massive luxury cuts that most people consider the norm today. With that in mind, I though of all the odd bits of unusual meats that would randomly turn up in mom's Sunday gravy from when I was a kid, so I grabbed a nice big package of beef neck bones, and started getting ideas on how to use it, and apply a few new tricks with a tried and true pasta dish.
I've got the Sunday gravy thing down by now, so I wanted to put together that old standby with an old school meat, and bring in a few newer ideas that have made their mark on the restaurant world lately. Two pasta dishes that have gained a lot of attention lately is Scott Conant's simple tomato and basil spaghetti from his restaurant Scarpetta, and Micheal White's Fusili with Baby Octopus and Bone Marrow from Marea (also in New York). The Conant recipe uses the idea of infusing some olive oil with your basil, pepper, and garlic flavors, and adding it to the sauce late in the cooking process. The recipe from Marea melts bone marrow right into the tomato sauce to add richness- similar to the way one would mount a traditional french sauce with butter to add a glossy finish and bring in rich flavor notes.
Sunday gravy (except that I actually made this one on a Monday). The only thing I'm going to do different is when and how I add seasoning- and since I'm using very rich meat and cooking for even longer than normal, I'm not going to bother using tomato paste. For now, I'll only be using salt and pepper, I'll add the rest of the flavors later using the infused olive oil idea from the Scott Conant recipe. I'll start by warming up a little olive oil in my favorite big pot, and toss in one medium onion, chopped small seasoned with a little salt and pepper. Keep the onions moving around with a wooden spoon, until they turn translucent.