Monday, April 20, 2009

What Was I THINKING.....?

Ever have one of those culinary moments where you're deep into a dish and suddenly start to question your sanity?


Too bad... sometimes the most delicious of results come from the wildest ideas. Take tonight for example. A friend and I have started a software business, and as you can imagine, time is suddenly a scarce commodity (as the number of blog entries will attest to...).

So tonight, after leaving work an hour late... dropping by the pharmacy to pick up some prescriptions... dropping by the bank to add some much needed funds (aren't they all?), and finally getting one of the kids from grandma's house, I arrived home just in time to cook dinner.

yee hah

I looked in the fridge, and lo and behold, I had 3 choices: Hamburgers... Hamburger Steaks... and Spaghetti. I floated the plethora of options past mamma (the final arbiter in these cases), and the vote went for the spaghetti.

I can make a really killer spaghetti sauce, time permitting, but I can also make a pretty fair one on the fly with just a little time... which is what I did tonight.

You're asking yourself "What's so daring, risky and downright maniacal about pusghetty?" aren't you....? Well, the answer is nothing... so keep reading.

Not really in the mood for the red stuff myself, I did a fast pantry raid (heh heh... you had to read that one twice, didn't you?) and came up with a can of tuna and a bold... no, a daring idea.
I'd long since known about the venerable tonnato sauce in Italian cooking, and started formulating my plan. I quickly found a couple of cookbooks with tonnato sauce recipes, and quickly discarded both, simply because the 'traditional' preparation was to puree the hell out of the tuna and supporting ingredients in a food processer until the texture resembled something you'd find in a toddler's diaper.

Sorry... I don't do tuna mayo....

So I decided to start with a sort of mock alfredo and incorporate the tuna into it. I figured that was pretty safe and sane place to start. It wasn't until I'd realized I was using a fish, an acid and a dairy all together that I started getting the shakes and questioning my sanity.

How'd it work? Well, in the words of the immortal Barry White: "Baby.... OOHHH Baby..."

It was spectacular. The tuna flavor was there, but the citrus backed off the fishy flavor. The garlic and pepper flakes provided a zesty undertone, and the cream made for a smooth, silky platform.

Who'da thunk it? Certainly not me... I mean, I'm not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, but I've been cooking long enough to sorta know what goes and what doesn't... and this wasn't one I'd have pictured working out to be edible, much less darn good.

So, here's the lowdown:
  • 1 12 oz can tuna packed in water
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 - 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan or romano
  • Pasta of choice
Drain tuna, reserve water.
Heat medium sized skillet or saucepan, add olive oil and garlic. GENTLY saute garlic for 1-2 minutes.
Add tuna water, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well with oil and garlic.
Slowly add cream, blending well.
Reduce heat to medium and begin reduction process.
When reduced by approx 1/3, add tuna to pan and mix gently. Break apart the tuna to desired consistency.
When reduced by approx 1/2, add cheese and mix.
When cheese is well mixed, and sauce has desired consistency, spoon generously over pasta and serve.

I didn't garnish it with anything, because, honestly, this was a throw together meal, just to provide some fuel. Next time I think I'll try a little dill garnish, but I'm not sure how that'll play out against the richness of the cream. Sounds good though.

Sorry, but the digital camera is on the fritz (if your name is Fritz, my apologies, but you oughta be used to it by now), so I don't have any pictures. Texture wise, it was about the same consistency as a good white clam sauce.

So, as the old saying goes: even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then......