[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Fusilli Strensalli
12 September 2013

For this, my first recipe from Strensall, North Yorkshire, England, I decided on something traditional - an Italian-style pasta with leeks, onions, mushrooms and ham. Admittedly, that doesn't sound all that traditional, and to be honest, it isn't, but with the exception of the pasta, it's all pretty much local produce.

Some of this choice was driven by my straitened circumstances. After all, I'm in a new (rental) house, without any of my usual cooking implements, which are all in a warehouse in New Jersey. I've got a few pots which came with the place, a smallish roasting dish, and a knife which came with me from NYC - an adequate knife, but not my preferred size. I don't want to spend a lot of money buying new stuff, since my old stuff will be here in about a month, so simple is the name of the game. And there's nothing quite so simple as pasta. Well, nearly nothing. The first evening I had BLT sandwiches, which are even easier.

The ham in this recipe is not a cured ham, rather it's left-over from last night's dinner, which was roast (fresh) ham shank with local new potatoes and local (I think) brussels sprouts. It was delicious, and the ham shank is such a tasty and economical cut that I expect it will be appearing again on the menu. Maybe next time, I'll do the recipe for you, since this time was a bit ad hoc - I had peppercorns but no grinder, for instance, so I ended up cracking them in a pot with the bottom of a coffee mug. Still, it worked out alright, and I had plenty of leftover, highly flavored pork to go into my pasta.

[Lots of pictures]

Fusilli Strensalli

Begin by putting a splash of olive oil into a pot and setting it over a fairly low heat. Cut the onion into semi-circles and toss them in with just a pinch of salt. Start them sweating while you cut the leeks. Leeks can sometimes be difficult to clean, just at the point where the green tops start to split away from the lower bit, so wash them carefully. Add them to the onion and let them all cook together for ten or fifteen minutes over low(ish) heat, stirring now and again. I covered mine for part of the process to keep the moisture in.

Meanwhile, prepare the meat. If you've got some ham, by all means use it. Even better is if you have something like the shank, with some gelatin still attached - it'll rich the sauce up a bit. You want something which is already cooked or cured, though, so a fresh sausage is not the right choice for this application. Cut it into smallish cubes, 1/2" perhaps, or a bit larger, and when it's ready and the afore-mentioned 10-15 minutes have passed, add it to the sauce. Mix well, and let it keep going for a while, until the onions and leeks are softened a bit but not mushy. Oh, and get your pasta water started.

Cut your mushrooms. If they are small, halves might do; these weren't so I did quarters or sixths, depending on how large they actually were. When the pasta water is ready, put the pasta in and put the 'shrooms in with the sauce, covering it and kicking the heat up a bit. While the pasta cooks, keep an eye on the sauce, raising the heat when the mushroom have given up some of their liquid. You can pop the lid at that point.

Drain the pasta, when it's done of course, top with some of the sauce, eat and enjoy. Depending on how salty your meat was, you might or might not need to add salt. Since I now had a pepper mill, I added some black pepper at the table, and that was a good thing.

© 2013 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite