23 July 2012

Pasta & Canasta at home with friends

When we had our anniversary dinner at Restaurant Alma, one of the courses we had was orecchiette pasta with lamb sausage. I was really impressed by the dish.

During the evening, as we chatted with our friends about the food, I mentioned that I had gotten a pasta machine and had started making fresh pasta. One thing lead to another, and we ended up inviting our friends to our house for a dinner of fresh pasta. We all have joined the canasta craze, and we thought it would be fun to end the evening with a game.

So as I thought about what to make, I decided to try to replicate the flavors of the dish we had at Alma. The first thing I did was search the internet. Lo and behold, there was a recipe by Emeril Lagasse for lamb sausage ragout with Portobello mushrooms and fettuccine. Click here for Emeril’s recipe. His recipe called for fettuccine instead of orecchiette. And Alma’s dish didn’t include Portobello mushrooms. But it looked interesting. LambSausageRagu

The pasta recipe I use is pretty reliable, so I decided to use that recipe (click here) for the fettuccine. (Emeril’s recipe didn’t specify fresh pasta. Actually, quite ironically, Emeril’s recipe online calls for rigatoni, even though the title of the recipe says fettuccine.)

I put lamb sausage on my shopping list. I wasn’t sure how difficult that would be to find. Well, turns out it was quite difficult. Finally I just bought ground lamb and figured I’d improvise.

When I got home, I went back to the internet. I was relieved to discover that there actually are a lot of recipes for homemade fresh sausage on the internet. The one I finally settled on was another Emeril recipe. His called for pork butt, but I had already decided to improvise, so that was no problem. Here’s his original recipe.

So here are my modifications. Starting with the sausage, I used ground lamb instead of cubed pork butt. Also, his recipe called for paprika; I used Spanish smoked paprika. Then, for the ragout, I did not use pepper flakes. I had a fresh jalapeno which I minced and sautéed with the rest of the vegetables.

I was somewhat perplexed by Emeril’s serving instructions. He said to put the grilled Portobellos on the platter, then put the pasta over them and top with the ragout. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to use such large mushrooms. But I felt they were way to big to put on the platter whole. So I sliced the grilled mushrooms into 3/4-inch wide slices.

It all turned out great. Probably the most fun for me was making the homemade sausage. I’m definitely going to do that again.

We ended the evening with a nice game of canasta. Our friends won, but it was close.

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