For all its popularity, ordinary supermarkets carry surprisingly few pasta shapes. Granted, they do have a good representation of the types of pasta the home cook needs. But they never come close to the staggering number of varieties you’ll find at a pasta emporium like New York’s Eataly which is just across the street from Madison Square Park at 23rd and 5th Avenue. The picture at left shows just one aisle of the store’s enormous pasta section! How I took this picture with virtually no one in that aisle is something of a miracle. Eataly, featured in this post (http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/11/visit-to-eataly-yields-delicious-veal.html), celebrated its second anniversary just last week. And there was a lot to celebrate. The 58,000 square foot store was on track to net $85 million in one year, which works out to $1700 a square foot! That’s a lot of pasta! And Eataly would be a good place look for the Strozzapreti pasta that Chef Michael Mina called for in his original recipe. We were nowhere near Eataly when we decided to cook this meat-y pasta dish with its spicy overlay of cumin and fennel and red pepper. So we substituted Gemelli, which are easy to find almost anywhere. They’re also an approved substitute for Strozzapreti, which translates, from Italian into English as “Priest Strangler”. Gemelli means ‘twins’ in Italian, so much less violent than ‘priest strangler’ don’t you think?
|Strozzapreti or "Priest Strangler" Pasta|
|Chef Michael Mina|
This is listed as being for 8 servings. Make a batch and freeze it for later use if you’re serving fewer people.
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 tbsp. crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground lamb
Freshly ground black pepper
6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large fennel bulb—halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons harissa
One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, liquid reserved
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound dried strozzapretipasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
6 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
Freshly grated sheep milk cheese, or pecorino to pass when serving
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the fennel, cumin, Aleppo pepper and peppercorns and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, 2 minutes. Let cool, then wrap in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle.
Cover the ragù and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until thickened, about 50 minutes longer. Discard the spice bundle and season the ragù with salt and pepper.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and return to the pot. Add the ragù and stir. Fold in the cherry tomatoes, scallions and half of the mint. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a large bowl. Top with the remaining mint and serve,passing the cheese at the table.