Friday, December 17, 2010

"Everyone Comes to Elaine's" & "Rocco's Italian American"- Parppardelle Bolognese (in memory of Elaine Kaufman)

Date I made this recipe: December 15, 2010

Everyone Comes to Elaine’s by A. E. Hotchner
Published by: Harter Entertainment
ISBN: 0-06-063818-X (copyright 2004)
No recipes – just a darned good read!

Rocco’s Italian American by Rocco Dispirito
Published by: Hyperion
ISBN: 0-7868-6857-0 (copyright 2004)
Recipes: Mama’s Marinara – p. 116 and Pappardelle Bolognese - -p. 141

Today’s blog marks the passing of one of the most famous ladies to ever grace the island of Manhattan…and no, I’m not talking about Lady Liberty. I’m talking about Elaine Kaufman.

Before you all start hooting like owls (Who? Who?) let me head you off at the pass: Elaine Kaufman, owner of the eponymous restaurant, Elaine’s, was the grand dame of the New York restaurant world.

I’m not sure how it was that I came to know of this lady, I only know that I never visited her restaurant because a) I was too lazy to haul ass from the Upper West Side (of Manhattan) where I usually stayed, to go to the Upper East Side to eat and b) I was not star-worthy (and I don’t mean Michelin!) and therefore would have been seated in her self-proclaimed “Siberia” section; it’s cold enough here in Minnesota, thank you very much!

At Elaine’s if you were somebody, you sat up front. If you were a little nobody, and were privileged enough to get the nod to come in, you sat in Siberia, the place where waiters seldom ventured and everybody who was nobody sat.

Elaine was known for a number of things, but most especially for her temper and for her affinity for throwing people out of her place. And for assault charges (later dropped) filed against her. I guess when she said there were no tables available, she meant “No Tables Available.”

In 2004, A. E. Hotchner, actor Paul Newman’s former cooking partner, wrote the book, Everybody Comes to Elaine’s. The book chronicled the fabulous wild ride that was the Elaine’s experience and the rash of stars, politicians and other power people who came to her restaurant in the 40 years (at the time) she ran it.

Sadly, this book did not contain recipes (and I have a few like that in my collection) and so I did some research, found what I think is Elaine’s menu (Italian) and then set out to find a cookbook and a recipe to gap-fill for Elaine. And this is how I came to make Rocco Dispirito’s recipe for Pappardelle Bolognese.

Actually, when you think about it, it’s pretty funny that I cooked a dish in honor of Elaine (I mean really – how many people knew she had a last name?!) with a recipe from a guy named Rocco? (By the way, Rocco had a reputation of his own to deal with. As the young chef and owner of Rocco’s 22nd Street, Rocco and company were filmed for the TV Show, The Restaurant. I only needed to watch half an episode to know I wasn’t interested in seeing such trauma drama on a daily basis but luckily, it appears that Rocco, as well as Elaine, mellowed in their later years!

As to the recipe, the only thing I did different than Rocco was to use my family’s sauce recipe. I tend toward that vein in general and on this particular day, I needed to make some sauce for a dinner party I’m having tomorrow and I figured Aunt Rose’s was probably just as good as (nay, better than) Rocco’s Mama! I also took the lid off and let the sauce simmer a while longer than directed so that it would thicken.

So anyway, a New York institution has gone to greener pastures and the restaurant world will be a little worse off because of it. R.I.P., Elaine!

Mama’s Marinara – 6 portions
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped fine
3 tablespoons olive oil
Two 28-ounce cans tomato puree
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon sugar
Red pepper flakes to taste

Cook the garlic and onion in the olive oil in a sauce pot over a medium-low flame, about 10 minutes or until garlic is tender and onions translucent, not brown (this is called “seating” because it will draw out a lot of moisture and flavor).

Add all the tomato products. Pour the chicken stock into one of the 28-ounce cans. Fill it the rest of the way with water and add that and the sugar to the pot. Stir and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with red pepper flakes and salt, and cover. Simmer the sauce for about 1 hour. The sauce should be fairly think but not watery and very smooth. Uncover and simmer for 3 minutes if it is too think for your taste; add a little water if it seems thick.

Pappardelle Bolognese – 4 portions
1/8 pound ground veal (2 oz)
1/8 pound ground beef (2 oz)
1/8 pound ground pork (2 oz)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, rinsed and diced
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 glass red wine
2 cups Mama’s Marinara (see page 116)
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and red pepper flakes
¼ cup grated Parmigina-Reggiano
1 ¼ pound pappardelle (As the author notes, “pappardelle is an extra-wide, flat, long noodle, similar to fettuccine but wider.” In Minneapolis, you can get fresh-cut pappardelle at Broder’s Cucina Italiana on 50th and Penn Avenue. Because that was a little out of my way, I got “fresh” linguine pasta out of the refrigerator case at my local grocery store. Note that the cooking time for fresh pasta is 2-3 minutes, tops.)

In a stockpot, over high heat, brown the meat in the olive oil. Lower the heat and add everything else, except the pasta and cheese, cover, and simmer 1 hour.

Meanwhile, bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add a handful of salt when it begins to simmer. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water, drain, and toss in the pot with the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ann’s Notes:
 Veal is hard to find so if you can’t locate it, just increase the beef or pork.
 I wish Rocco would have given some guidance to how much wine constitutes a glass. I went with 8 ounces but probably could have cut back as I needed to reduce the sauce.
 Speaking of reducing, I maybe went another half hour with the cover off the pot to thicken the sauce.
 I used Pecorino Romano instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano because I happened to have that one hand and because my family prefers Pecorino. The tastes are vastly different – Parmigiano Reggiano is made from cow’s milk and is sweet and nutty in taste; Pecorino Romano is made from sheep’s milk and is tangy and salty (but not much) in taste.
 You will not be likely to find dry Pappardelle pasta unless you visit a specialty foods store but as I mentioned, Broders Cucina Italiana in south Minneapolis carries sheets of homemade pasta that can be cut to order for linguine, fettucini or pappardelle. You can also use the sheets to make lasagna. Remember to follow the (short cooking time) directions. (Not to be confused with!)

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