Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saffron Tagliatelle, Blue Crab, Cardamom Cream Sauce

Every once in a while, I have the urge to make pasta.  The urge is necessary because I have a rule against buying pasta that I can make my self.  My most recent urge was to try to make saffron pasta.  This is a lot harder than I thought.  The first batch did not work at all.  I was a little dispirited, but, I decided I would try again.  After all, I was making dinner for my beautiful wife, who volunteers to try some of the unusual things that I make.  

While saffron pasta may seem out of the ordinary, this dish falls within the category of "unusual dishes" because of the sauce.  I did not want to do a red sauce or a white sauce.  I wanted to do something different.  As ingredients raced through my head, there was one that caught my attention .... cardamom.  I thought that cardamom would match well with the saffron in the pasta.  So, it was decided.  I would make a cardamom cream sauce.

The sauce probably needs some work and refinement.  The major components are heavy cream, citrus (lemon and lime) and cardamom.  I used ground cardamom, but you could easily buy a few pods (green cardamom pods work best), toast them and grind them into powder.  Finally, I added some crab, using both lump and backfin, so that there would be different sized pieces of crabmeat in the sauce.  

The sauce turned out a little lighter than I expected, but this is probably because I am not a big fan of thick, white sauces.  I could not bring myself to make an alfredo-type sauce, so I ended up with a lighter sauce that, while covering the noodles, did not really show though in the pasta.

Even though the sauce did not work out like I wanted, I am still fascinated by the saffron-cardamom pairing.  I am definitely going to make this sauce again and I will update this post with each effort.


A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 3-4

Ingredients (for the pasta):
2 eggs, beaten
1 pinch of saffron
4 cups of all purpose flour

Ingredients (for the sauce):
1 pound crab meat (preferably jumbo lump meat, but
     you can also use backfin meat or a combination)
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of ground cardamom
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
Freshly grated nutmeg
Zest from 1 lemon and juice from 1/2 lemon
Zest from 1 lime and juice from 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon of sugar

1.  Make the dough.   Make a mound with the flour and a well in the middle of the mound.  Reinforce each side of the mound with the back side of a spoon.  Add the egg and saffron to the well.  Add a little flour at a time into the egg, stirring the flour into the egg with a fork.  Continue stirring and adding flour until the dough begins to form.  This may take a little while.  Always be mindful of the sides of the well and make sure that there are no cracks where the egg can escape. 

2.  Knead the dough.  Once the dough has formed enough to pick up (it may still be a little runny), scoop up the dough into one of your hands and cover it with flour.  Continue to work the dough into a ball in your hands by adding flour until there is no more "liquid."  Return the dough to a floured surface and begin to kneed the dough with the palm of your hand and your fingers.  Continue to kneed the dough for about ten minutes or until the dough no longer seems "wet."  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for a few hours.

3.  Make the pasta.  Follow the directions on your hand-crank machine, running the dough on the widest setting and working toward the narrow setting. Sprinkle flour onto the dough if you feel any "wet" spots.  Let the dough sit for a couple of minutes.  Then use the attachment for whatever type of pasta you would like to make. As you cut the pasta using the attachment, make sure that the pasta noodles are separated from one another by either hanging the noodles on a pasta rack or arranging the noodles in a way that will prevent them from sticking together as they dry.  You should also sprinkle flour over the noodles, which will help to keep the noodles separate.

4.  Make the sauce.  Heat the heavy cream in a sauce pan.  Add the lemon zest, lime zest and cardamom.  Stir well.  Add the lemon juice and lime juice, continuing to stir.  Bring to a low simmer and reduce by about one third, about seven to eight minutes.  Add the crab meat and stir gently. 

5.  Cook the noodles.  Heat a pot of water to boiling.  Cook for about two to three minutes and drain.

6.  Finish the dish.  Add the pasta to the sauce and stir until the sauce covers the noodles. 


1 comment:

Lauren said...

This sounds absolutely fantastic.

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