Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Orecchiette with Mushrooms and Shrimp

Many of the Chef Bolek original dishes are conceived and executed on a whim, with thought given to complementing and contrasting flavors and cooking techniques.  Sometimes, those thoughts change while I am actually making the dish. 

This recipe is a good example of this process.  Initially, I decided to make a dish that incorporated three main ingredients: (1) pasta; (2) shrimp and (3) mushrooms.  The latter two ingredients do not necessarily go together, although the first and third ingredients definitely go well together.  So I gave a lot of thought about how to tie them all together.  I decided to use flavors that work well with all three ingredients, such as shallots, garlic and white wine.  I also added a few herbs and seasonings to complete the dish. 

During the prep work, however, I decided that I should use the stems from the shiitake mushrooms and the shells of the shrimp to make an impromptu stock.  I added a couple of other ingredients, such as bay leaves, peppercorn and salt to help develop the flavors of the stock.  I had intended to use the stock as the beginning of the sauce that would go over the pasta.  As the cooking process began, I decided to use only some of the stock.

In the end, this recipe is still only a rough one.  It needs work, but the experimentation with the flavors worked.  I hesitate to add this to the blog; however, the improvement of this dish is something that I want to add to my "to do" list. As I make changes or improvements to this recipe, I'll update this post.

A Chef Bolek Original
Serve 2-3

2 cup of orechiette
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 shallots, finely diced
1/3 pound of shiitake mushrooms, sliced, stems reserved
1/3 pound of cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves 
1/4 teaspoon of pink or black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon of flat leaf parsley
12 shrimp, de-shelled and de-veined, reserve shells
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
12 teaspoons of dry white wine
1 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese, grated finely

1.  Make a stock.  Add the shrimp shells, shiitake mushrooms, parsley, sea salt, peppercorns to a small pot and cover with water.  Heat on high and boil for at least 30 minutes and no more than sixty minutes.

2.  Heat the water for the pasta.  Bring a pot of water to a boil.

3.  Saute the mushrooms.  Add the mushrooms to a pan over high heat.  Stir occasionally while the mushrooms release their moisture, for about four to five minutes.  Add a tablespoon of stock, stirring the mushrooms, until it is absorbed by the mushrooms.  Repeat this several times, adding a tablespoon of stock while stirring the mushrooms.  Then add the shallots and garlic.  Saute until the shallots are soft and translucent.  Add six teaspoons of white wine and continue to stir the mushroom, shallot and garlic mixture.  Remove and set aside the mushroom mixture.

4.  Cook the pasta. Once the pot of water is boiling, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  It should take between seven to ten minutes to cook. 

5.  Cook the shrimp.  As the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat.  Add the shrimp and cook for one minute.  Flip the shrimp and add the mushroom mixture, as well as the remaining six teaspoons of wine.  Continue to cook for a couple of minutes.   

6.  Finish the dish.  Once the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta and add it to the saute pan with the shrimp and mushrooms.  Stir well to coat the pasta, and add two large pinches of Pecorino Romano.  Season with ground black pepper and salt.  Serve with the remaining Pecorino Romano. 


This recipe is best paired with white wine.  I chose a white wine from the Languedoc region of France, which worked fairly well.  The clean taste of the wine, which included some grapefruit, lemon and mineral, actually paired well with the mushrooms and the shrimp.

Unfortunately, I could not think of a beer that would go well with this dish, at least as the recipe is currently written.


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