Monday, April 25, 2016

Pasta Fazool Parody

Pasta Fazool is an all time favorite of mine and once more brings me back to my early childhood. I have the fondest memories sitting at my Grandfather's kitchen table while he prepared his take on Italian Classics. The Kitchen was small and so was the table. In those days (60 & 70's) everyone used their kitchen table as their prep area. 

My Grandfather on my Dad's side was the epitome of everything Italian and Sicilian. And adding to this characteristic of everything Italian was the ownership of a bar. I am not kidding either. The Co-Owner of the bar and silent partner was......let's just say he was an unsavory type. The Bar was called the Queens Bar. Everyone in the neighborhood hung out at the bar. And yes before you ask it was a hangout for the "M". Poppi (that's what we called my Grandfather) made a lot of food for the bar and everyone loved eating there. It was not a restaurant mind you but a dark and gloomy bar. Anyhow he just loved to cook and share his food and that's what he did. Oh and he never charged anyone for his food either. Anyhow more on that at a later time.  

Why did I call this dish a Pasta Fazool Parody? The answer will become quite obvious if you know anything about Pasta Fazool and the dishes history. You have to admit right off the bat that the name is a funny one too. The Italian name for this dish is actually Pasta e fagioli which means pasta and beans. In the good old "US of A" we call it Pasta Fazool because of the Neapolitan language. I guess in the Neapolitan language they pronounce beans as Fasule.  My Grandfather version of this dish was more traditional. My non-traditional dish is two fold. I like meat and I don't eat pork which is why my dish is a parody and not the real thing. 

Did you know that the famous Dean Martin (Dino Paul Crocetti) had the name Pasta Fazool in his famous song "That's Amore?" Over the years I have heard this song dozens of times and it still brings a big smile to my face. This song is famous too for being in several well known movies too. To name a few...Moonstruck, Rear Window, Enchanted, Grumpier Old Men and the most famous movie starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis called "The Caddy". Love the song, the movies and Pasta Fazool. 

So in my dish I use my Beef Bacon instead of the traditional Pancetta. If I had any of my Vealcetta on hand I would have used that instead. Since I like meat I used ground Veal too. Ahhh... see the difference already. Anyhow cut your bacon up or whatever you have on hand into bite size pieces. The use of bacon or pancetta is to impart fat and flavor into the dish. 

Start sauteing the bacon on until slightly crisp. Remove and set aside.

Ok this is where I really depart from traditional Pasta Fazool. See all the ingredients to the left? They're not in the original dish. Garlic of course is in the dish and I used about 5 cloves. 

Don't forget to cut your veggies up.....

Start sauteing all the veggies until they start to brown ever so slightly. I always saute the garlic last. It cooks faster than everything else. This is where you can start adding the salt and pepper. At this stage it would be traditional to add Rosemary but I prefered the more traditional herbs like Oregano, Basil, parsley and Thyme but add whatever you want. Deglaze with your favorite wine, port or Tawny. I am a big fan of Whiskers Blake Classic Tawny.

Saute the veal in a separate pan and pour off excess fat and brown a bit. Deglaze with the  Tawny above. Add it to the main pot.
At this stage of the dish I assuming you have a little culinary cooking sense. You will need it because I leave a lot to the imagination. I added canned crushed Tomatoes, and chicken stock. I than added 2 15 oz cans of Cannellini beans which is the Fazool part of the dish. At this point in the dish we're going to use an immersion blender to slightly break apart the beans into a coarse texture.  Now we're going to add another 2 cans and do the same thing. Now you have to decide if there is enough liquid or tomatoes and if you're happy with the texture. Don't forget about the pasta. There has to be enough liquid to support the pasta. keep tasting and keep adding spices and herbs until you are satisfied.  

Once you are satisfied with the flavors start adding cheese. I am a big fan of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Or you could use Pecorino cheese. It all works.  Add some Toasted pine nuts and set some aside when you put the whole dish together. 

Add the reserved bacon.

I parboiled the Orecchiette then added it to the pot. If you want you can cook the pasta directly in the pot but know that it will add a whole of starch to the dish. If that's your thing knock yourself out. 

The more traditional pasta that is used for this dish is Ditalini. If this was available at the time of making the dish I would have used them instead of the Orecchiette but any small pasta will do. 

Pasta Fazool made with Bovicetta and the traditional Ditalini

Topped with thin slices of Bovicetta