Saturday, November 26, 2011

Smoked Ham and Butternut Squash Spaghetti – Short on Daylight, Long on Flavor

I never film at night, since I don’t like the look of the video when I use artificial lights. Sure, I could actually learn how to use a real lighting kit, but it’s easier for my simple brain to just film during the day.

However, once in a great while, I’ll starting making something, like this smoked ham and butternut squash spaghetti, that looks like it’s going to be so good that I don’t care about lighting quality, and film it anyway.

Other than this less-than-subtle warning about the lighting quality, there’s not a lot to say about this simple and very delicious winter pasta. It will work with literally any type of ham or smoked sausage; and as I mention in the video, bacon would also shine.

Despite the rich and decadent mascarpone, the sauce is actually pretty light when you consider much of the sauce is really just chicken broth and squash. By the way, I didn’t add it, but I think a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end would have been a great idea. I hope you give this hearty pasta a try soon. Enjoy!

14 oz package dry spaghetti
2 tbsp olive oil
4 oz thinly slice smoked ham
3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
red chili flakes to taste
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth, or as needed
3 cups diced butternut squash
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1-2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Know Your Cheese

As most of your know, I LOVE cheese, and two of the most commonly used varieties in my kitchen are fresh mozzarella, and mascarpone. In addition to this recipe, I’ve used mascarpone in several recent videos, and received numerous inquires as to which brand I used.

My usual go-to brand is Galbani, so I was thrilled when Michele and I were recently invited to an event hosted by Lactalis Foodservice. Along with Galbani, Lactalis owns many of markets’ top cheese brands, such as President, Sorrento, and Precious, just to name a few.

This Chef’s Table event was held at Farina, San Francisco, and not only did we enjoy a very nice meal, but we got to talk directly to the people making the cheese. One reason I love shopping at Farmers Markets is that you get to meet the people producing the food you’re about to cook, but it’s not often you get the same experience for a product you buy at the supermarket.

Here are a few highlights from the evening.

Pardon the poor quality photo, but I just had to show this Foccacia di Recco, featuring Galbani’s Bel Paese. It’s sort of like a stuffed pizza, which uses a very basic, unleavened bread dough that’s rolled, spun, and stretched very thin, before being stuffed with the creamy cheese. It’s baked in a very hot oven, where it puffs up, and gets crispy on the outside, while the inside stays soft and cheesy. It was awesome, and something I must figure out how to make!
Chef at Farina spinning the dough for the Foccacia di Recco. By the way, the videographer seen here is my friend Vincent McConeghy, a fellow western New Yorker, and author of the novel, Gastro Detective.

This was my favorite course of the night. A golden and red beet timbale with Istara Petit Basque and shaved black truffles. What glorious combination of flavors!

I want to thank Lactalis Foodservice for hosting such a fun evening, and the chefs at Farina for taking such good care of us! For those of you that requested more info about the mascarpone cheese, you can check out the official website here. Grazie!

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