Pasta Alla Norcina

I record America’s Test Kitchen on our local public broadcasting station OPB each Saturday and often find something that looks tasty. I also subscribe to the America’s Test Kitchen magazines Cook’s Country and Cook’s Illustrated. I made note of this recipe last year sometime and then caught a rerun recently; so I figured I’d better try it. You can find my version of the recipe here; or try it on the free site here (note that you’ll have to create a free account to view it on the ATK site).

Pasta Alla Norcina ingredients

Pasta Alla Norcina ingredients

One thing that drew me to this recipe was the sausage prep; rather than going with Italian sausage, which has too much fennel, we make our own from a little ground  pork, rosemary, garlic, and pepper. Before mixing the ingredients we brine the pork in saltwater with a little baking soda added to adjust the pH.

Sausage makings for Pasta Alla Norcina

Sausage makings for Pasta Alla Norcina

We finely chop the mushrooms in a food processor. The recipe calls for 12 pulses; I found that 8 was probably one or possibly two too many. But it didn’t affect the flavor!

Finely chopped mushrooms for Pasta Alla Norcina

Finely chopped mushrooms for Pasta Alla Norcina

Now it was time to build the dish. First step was to press the sausage into a 6″ disk and fry it just enough to brown the outside but not enough to cook it all the way through – that would happen later.

Frying sausage patty for Pasta Alla Norcina

Frying sausage patty for Pasta Alla Norcina

Pul the patty out of the pan and cut it into small chunks, put in a bowl with 3/4 cup heavy cream (I said it was tasty; not that it was diet!). While that is melding, start the pasta water. Then drain the excess fat from the pan, add just a touch back and brown the mushrooms. At the end of the browning, add some more rosemary, garlic, and pepper; deglaze the pan with some dry white wine – I used Pinot Gris – and simmer until it has all cooked out. Add the pork/cream mixture and some reserved pasta water.

Creamy Pasta Alla Norcina sauce.

Creamy Pasta Alla Norcina sauce.

Pour the cream sauce over the pasta and mix in a little parsley and lemon juice to brighten it.

Dinner is served: Pasta Alla Norcina

Dinner is served: Pasta Alla Norcina

The side dish is beets with lemon and almonds – another ATK dish you can find on their site – and/or look at the recipe here.

Rating: ★★★★. 

It would have been five stars but I had some trouble with the oriecchiette pasta; it is shaped like little bowls and many of them stayed stacked together so they didn’t all cook properly. You can see a stack on the right side at 3:00 in the picture above. I’ll make sure to separate the disks before cooking next time; if that doesn’t work, we’ll go with another pasta style.

A note on the photos.

I’ve been trying different lighting schemes lately including two flashes. For this set of pictures I went with natural light, ISO 200; I mounted the camera on a tripod to adjust for the long exposure times.

About howardwthompson

I'm a person who likes to travel, read, cook, and eat
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2 Responses to Pasta Alla Norcina

  1. MishMash says:

    Looks yummy, Howard! I love the camera tips too. If I included them in my posts it would be something like: “I pointed my iPhone at the item, and pressed the picture button.” Which might explain how bad some of my pics are ;-). The beets looks great too.

  2. Thanks, Misha! I need to make this again!

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