If You Can’t Stand The Heat…

Assemblage

Lest you start smirking about how seasonally appropriate this next dish is, wipe those silly grins from your faces because it was actually inspired by a comment left by Larbo’s friend Dan (aka the Chocolate Man).

It wasn’t enough for me to make my own ‘nduja.  Nor was it sufficient to try my hand at combining it into ‘nduja burgers.  And even after all that, my ‘nduja chocolate truffles only served to stoke the fire of my curiousity.

Nope.  I had to reach further; I had to do more.

Larbo’s friend Dan succinctly reminded me that what had initially inspired me to make ‘nduja truffles in the first place was a bizarre chocolate and ‘nduja pasta recipe on an Italian food website I’d noticed through Foodgawker.  It seemed only fitting that I should further expand on that idea in my own unique way.

Ideas have been marinating for a couple of days now, but yesterday afternoon I finally came to a conclusion about what I wanted to do.

Rather than simply sprinkling pasta with cocoa nibs, I opted to make a bitter cocoa pasta dough instead, as Dan had suggested.  At one point in the not so distant past I vaguely recalled chocolate pasta being in fashion, but even then I think it was intended as a dessert course rather than an entree.  A chocolate ‘nduja pasta was firmly entrenched in experimental territory, indeed.

Cocoa And Flour

After I’d mixed up a loose dough of flour, eggs, cocoa powder, salt and olive oil, I decided to test the extruder mechanism on my stand mixer.  Once the dough had chilled for a little bit I fed it through the tube and waited for it to come shooting out of the linguine die.  Apparently a dough must be much stiffer in order to properly work through the pasta attachment, so with that lesson learned, I scraped up the remaining dough bits and rolled them out once more.  When I achieved an appropriate thinness, I began haphazardly cutting the dough with a ravioli wheel into a very loose representation of tagliatelle.

Florets And Strands

Tossing it with additional flour, I spread it out on a clean tea towel and continued working on the other components I envisioned for the dish.

Next I peeled, washed, sectioned and blanched a head of cauliflower.  At crisp tender stage, I skimmed it and doused with cold water, then dropped the pasta into the rolling boil in the pot.  2 and a half minutes later the pasta was al dente, so it got a cool shower too and was briefly set aside.  A large hunk of ‘nduja was melted into a “sauce” with some of the pasta water, at which point the cauliflower was tossed in the hot liquid to coat.  Then the delicate cocoa noodles were added and briefly dressed with the sauce as well.  A generous microplaning of parmagiano gave the dish the requisite umami-esque tang and dinner was ready.

Conceptually speaking, the flavours worked well, but the Everyman tells me I may have overdone it with the quantity of ‘nduja I added to the sauce.  Next time I’d probably err on the side of caution and cut the sauce with more dairy of some kind (creme fraiche, perhaps?) but as a first try I was relatively pleased.

And so the ‘nduja experimentation continues.

Until next time…

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One Response to “If You Can’t Stand The Heat…”

  1. [...] such, I’ve been on the market for some form of pasta machine, but ever since my snafu with the stand mixer pasta attachment, I haven’t been in much of a hurry.  I’ve also been told they can be quite expensive, [...]

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