Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dynamite Ham

So Martha and I were all dressed up and ready to hit the town. We had celebrating to do. The babysitter was here. I made a quick call to one of our friends to verify the bar where we were all meeting. "Great, we'll see you tomorrow," Cora said.


Oops. Wrong night. It's been a little hectic around here lately, what with Marty learning just the other day that one of her poems published last year has been selected for the new Best American Poetry anthology. Our phone was ringing off the hook, the news spreading virally among our Facebook friends. Even cheerleaders who snubbed Marty in high school were coming out of the woodwork: "Catch me up on your life," one said. "I always knew you were the creative type." So I guess we jumped the gun on date night. We were so ready.

But here we were in a celebratin' mood. We had a bottle of Pinot Noir on hand and a bag of chanterelles defrosting in the fridge. Chanties. They're nice to have for situations like this. While I cooked the pasta Marty ran around the corner to the last chance Hollywood Video, the movie ghetto for those nights when Netflix doesn't come through. "Woody Allen?" the clerk said. "You can look it up in that computer over there." Annie Hall was my idea. It was the movie that kicked off our mutual admiration Woody Fest many years ago, when we rented pretty much the entire oeuvre one rainy weekend—and now I could imagine my Marty having her own Alvy Singer moment: "Hey, it's Marty Silano. She's on the Johnny Carson. Hey everyone, it's Marty Silano!"

The kids burst into tears because we sent home their favorite babysitter. Next we exchanged our on-the-town duds for pajamas and scuffies. But the wine tasted good and the pasta was even better.

Dynamite Ham Chanterelle Pasta

It beats a plate of mashed yeast. You don't need ham, really. Pancetta, bacon, whatever fatty pork products you've got lying around. Dice a q-p of the pig and saute in a dollop of butter until starting to crisp. Meanwhile put a pot on the boil and throw in whatever pasta you feel like. We used little radiators because they're such good fat-catchers. Next add a chopped shallot or two to soak up all that porcine goodness in the pan. Put a couple tablespoons of butter in a large oven-proof mixing bowl and top with a couple ounces of heavy cream; shove in the oven at 300 degrees. When the shallots are soft add a pound of chopped chanterelles to the saute. If the chanties are fresh, cook out the water. Slowly, over medium-low heat, add a cup of heavy cream. Add a half cup or more of frozen peas to the sauce. Toss the finished pasta in the heated bowl with the butter and cream along with a third of a cup or more of grated parm. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix some more.

Serve with red wine to insure full French Paradox mode and then repair to food coma couches for cinema and port.

Dinner dates and flowers
Just like old times
Staying up for hours
Making dreams come true
Doing things we used to do

Seems like old times
Being here with you...


Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Marty, that's excellent news! And I'm glad you were able to celebrate rightly, with cured pork, chanterelles, and a good glass of wine.

drfugawe said...

Sometimes, when it's very quiet and still, I remember being much younger and stupider and sitting in a $1 movie at 2 in the afternoon watching "Play It Again, Sam". There was only one other guy sitting in there - and all afternoon I sat there listening to my own singular laughter - he never laughed! And all I kept thinking was, "Why isn't he laughing?"

And sometimes now, when it's quiet, I still wonder why he wasn't laughing. It's the kind of thing that can bother you forever.

Lo said...

You can keep chanterelles in the freezer? Dried or fresh? (you learn something new every day, it seems)]

Gotta love this recipe... and the memories. Can't beat a good date night at home, I say!

Langdon Cook said...

Audrey - Thanks. Sometimes you celebrate with what you've got, and those ingredients ain't bad!

Doc - Classic Woodman story. Thanks for sharing. BTW, I neglected to mention that my first date with Martha was "Shadows and Fog" in the theater and we were so disappointed that we went straight back to her place and rented pretty much the entire '70s and 80's stretch, which required holing up for an entire weekend. Not a bad date strategy, eh?

Lo - You most certainly can freeze chanties (much better than drying). The method called "dry saute" involves sautéing them without any butter or oil in a super-hot pan, stirring constantly until they release their water. Then get them out of the pan to cool and vacuum seal. You can use ziplocks too, but the former is preferred. Read more here.

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Sounds like a lovely evening: Pasta, wild mushrooms, red wine, pork product and port wine are several key ingredients for a good time...

dp said...

Well, shucks! And I know how hard it can be to arrange schedules and sitters for a night out. But it sounds like you managed to get some celebrating in.

Congratulations to your wife! There's nothing like having your work recognized.

Langdon Cook said...

Hank - Couldn't agree more. BTW, I might go truffling again this week if I can swing it. Will keep you posted.

Darlene - Thanks. Marty is still walking on air--even with a zillion papers to grade!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Congrats to Marty. Sounds like an excellent celebration.

rc said...

Even with the stomach bug, I was disappointed to leave the niblets too. I miss them! Date night next Saturday! x