Showing posts with label Sara Jenkins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sara Jenkins. Show all posts

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pappardelle with Creamy Leeks and Bacon

Sara Jenkins as photographed by
New York Magazine 

         There’s almost no end to what people are putting on pasta these days. The most recent issue of Bon Appetit has 7 entirely new takes on pasta sauces and a couple of pastas that are new to me:  Ditalini, a tubular pasta that translates to “little fingers” and Fiorentini, named for Florence, a spiral shaped paste as elegant as the city itself.  All the recipes are from Sara Jenkins, best known for her tiny East Village hole in the wall “Porchetta” (110 E. 7th Street NYC Tel: 212 777 2151).  There the star of the show is Chef Jenkins melt-in-your-mouth slow roasted pork on artisanal bread. It’s a stand-up kind of place, great for a midday pig-out. ( I generally go there on the sly, shamed that anyone might witness my fondness for pork fat.) 

 In between pig roasts, the Chef managed to write a cookbook called “Olives and Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Beyond “by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox (Houghton Mifflin 2008).   But it was at her next venture, a restaurant called Porsena, down the street from Porchetta at 21 East 7th St. (Tel: 212 228 4913), that Ms. Jenkins devoted herself to pasta.  And it you can’t get there yourself, this month’s copy of Bon Appetit will take you there.

         Of all 7 pastas, I chose the Pappardelle with Creamy Leeks and Bacon.  Right at the start you should know you can substitute linguine if pappardelle are nowhere to be found.   The recipe says that it’s a twist on Carbonara, the famous Roman specialty that uses eggs, cheese, guanciale or pancetta and turns them into oceans of creamy sauce.   The Creamy Leeks and Bacon are almost as sinful. The dish is so rich portion control is a must.  In Italy, where pasta is a separate course and precedes the entrée, the serving size would be half of what you end up with here.  So go easy, make sure that you add enough pasta water so there’s a true creamy sauce before you stir in the pasta.   Then you’ll end up with the sweetness of the leeks, the smokiness of the bacon and the creaminess of the sauce coating the pasta whether pappardelle or linguine.  This is so good!

         On our way to the recipe, I wanted to share 4 tips that Chef Jenkins laid out to make your pasta perfect from now on.  This applies to all pasta and not specifically to pappardelle.  Here they are:

1.   The more water the better.  Always use the largest pot you can and start with at least 6 quarts of cold water.  The more water the more space the pasta has to move around and the quicker the water will return to a boil when the pasta is added.

2.   Don’t skimp on the salt.  Chef Jenkins uses a terrifying ¼ cup of kosher salt per 6 quarts of water.  Since the pasta water is a key ingredient in making the sauce, the salted water is the basis for a lot of the flavor. 

3.   Al Dente or ‘to the tooth’ is everyone’s ideal of when pasta is done.  There was a tale I once heard about a Neapolitan chef who would fling his cooked pasta against a brick wall. If it stuck, it meant it was overcooked.  Chef Jenkins says she trusts the cooking times on pasta packages but nevertheless starts testing about 3 minutes a head of time.  She says: “You can always cook it longer. But you can never go back”.  Supposedly the Neapolitan I spoke about committed suicide when too many nights went by with pasta sticking to the wall.

4.   Use the pasta water in your sauce.   As it cooks, the pasta release starch into the water.  This is Chef Jenkins’ key to a well-seasoned bowl of pasta.  Before you drain the pasta, lade out two cups of the cooking liquid and put aside.  You may not have to use anything like that amount but even a splash or two will help your sauce emulsify when you add your pasta to the sauce.

Now, are you ready for the recipe?  Here it is:

Recipe for Pappardelle with Creamy Leeks and Bacon

Serves 4.

     2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
    2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise,
       sliced crosswise
     Kosher salt
     3/4 cup heavy cream
     2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
     1 pound pappardelle or fettuccine
     1 cup finely grated Parmesan

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add leeks and season with salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until leeks begin to brown, 5-8 minutes. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-8 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
Add pasta, Parmesan, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Serve at once. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicken with Escarole, Apples and Potatoes

        Out on Long Island, the apples are coming into play as we head into Fall and go back to wanting to eat something more substantial than summer fare.  Right near us, there’s a tremendous Pick-Your-Own Orchard run by the Halsey Family on Mecox Road in Water Mill.  Now Halsey is a name that dates back to the original English settlers who arrived on the South Fork in 1640.  Imagine, the descendants of the Pilgrims who landed on Long Island from the Massachusetts Colony are still farming the land, 370 years after their ancestors arrived!     
        You can wander among their trees and pick a cornucopia of apples—this week, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Empire, Mutsu, Idared, and  Stayman varieties can be combined in ½ bushel bags weighing 20 lbs for $30.00.  You can find out which varieties of apples of the 20 they grow are ripe for picking by going to .  Now half a bushel may sound like a lot of apples.  But they keep surprisingly well for a good long time.  And read on, because your future may not belong to Apple Pie alone. The Orchard is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  You can also find your own Halloween pumpkin sized for ½ lb to 150 lbs.  There are gourds and squash too.  And directly across the lane from the Halsey’s “Milk Pail”, another one of our great farming families, the Ludlows, have a Corn Maze that’s an annual tradition for families out here. 
        With all those apples, I was pleased to find a recipe that used them as part of a delicious main course—a whole dinner when you add some fingerling potatoes!  It came from Sara Jenkins.  Now Sara is better known for her Pork.  In fact, we featured a riff on her recipe for Porchetta right here.  ( is the Chef/Owner of Porchetta  (110 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10000 (b/n 1st Street and Avenue A); 212-777-2151;   She’s also the author of the highly praised ‘Olives and Oranges” which Mario Batali is quoted as saying makes it clear that Sara has
“olive oil in her veins and blood oranges in her heart”.  
Remember how good crispy chicken skin tastes?
        This recipe for Chicken is an example of Sara’s gift for taking the simplest ingredients and making something fresh and clean and easy.  It uses one skillet to steadily build flavor in the pan.  First you cook the chicken in olive oil until the skin is crispy and crunchy.  Then you add the apples, next the potatoes and finally the garlic, escarole and white wine.  I confess that this was my first foray cooking escarole and it strikes me as the perfect green for this time of year with its slightly bitter taste that contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the apples.  This is one quick one dish dinner that’s satisfying comfort food and perfect for a Fall evening meal.

Recipe for Chicken with Escarole, Apples and Potatoes courtesy of Sara Jenkins

12 ounces small new potatoes

4 8-ounce boneless chicken breasts with skin

Fine sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 semi-tart apples, such as Empire or Macoun, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths

1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled

1 pound escarole, leaves torn

1/2 cup dry white wine

1. Heat oven to 250°F.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and place on a plate in a single layer to cool. When potatoes are just cool enough to handle, flatten each one slightly by gently pressing on it with the side of a chef's knife. Set aside.

3. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, in batches if necessary, and cook until skin is golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn and cook, until underside is slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking pan, cover with foil, and place in oven.

4. Drain oil from skillet, return to medium-high heat, and add 2 tablespoons butter. Add only as many apples as will fit in a single layer and cook, turning apples as they brown, until golden on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with any remaining apples.

5. Add 2 more tablespoons butter to skillet. Add only as many potatoes as will fit in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat, turning once, until potatoes are warmed through and golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with any remaining potatoes.

6. Add garlic and as much escarole as you can comfortably fit into skillet, increase heat to high, and cook, stirring, until escarole starts to wilt and you can add more, about 1 minute. Add remaining escarole and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute more. Add wine and cook until escarole is tender and wine is slightly reduced. Add apples and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

7. Remove chicken from oven and pour any juices from pan into skillet with escarole and apples. Stir to combine.

8. Divide potatoes among four plates, then add chicken and escarole mixture, leaving juices in skillet. Return skillet to high heat, bring juices to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Whisk in remaining tablespoon butter. Season sauce with salt and pepper, pour over chicken, and serve.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Porchetta, slow-roasted pork shoulder with Fennel Pollen, and a visit to Robert De Niro’s Locanda Verde

        Whenever I get called for Jury Duty, I’m always delighted to use the midday break to try out the neighborhood restaurants.  Criminal court means visits to Chinatown and what’s left of Little Italy.  But Civil Court is bang up against Tribeca, ever a hotbed of places I am dying to eat.  There you’ll find Locanda Verde in the Greenwich Hotel on Greenwich St. (377 Greenwich St. Tel: 212 925-3797.)  The restaurant hasn’t yet become as famous as its owner, Robert De Niro, but if they keep serving the Porchetta sandwich that Chef Andrew Carmellini makes there, it very well may.