The Allium Family Massacre

22Nov08

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After the chaos that insued in my kitchen the last supper club gathering, I decided to take, what I thought to be, a simpler route. I perused my blog roll for recipes and finally settled on one found on a fellow blogger’s site, Orangette. It’s actually Mario Batalli’s recipe, and comes from The Babbo Cookbook. I’ve yet to eat at Babbo, but seeing as one of my most memorable dining experiences was at Lupa, I’ve no doubt it’s quite exceptional.

If “allium family” isn’t in your vocabulary, you clearly haven’t caught up on your Good Eats episodes. The Allium family is the plant group that includes garlic, leeks, onions, chives, and shallots. It’s my second family. Basically. And to find one recipe that incorporates all five* members PLUS pasta PLUS cheese?  Well, gee, do I even have to review and rant about how freakin amazing it is?

The onions, once you take the 2 hours or so to reduce them, turn into this carmelized, sticky, sweet sweet mess of a sauce that goes perfectly with the large rigatoni. Note that the recipe doesn’t use much salt because you’ll get it from the ricotta salata. It’s important to the dish to use rigatoni or a shell-like pasta with enough bite to balance out the texture of the sauce. The ridges of the rigatoni also help the sauce cling to the pasta coils.

Rigatoni with Five Lilies and Ricotta Salata
Taken from Orangette, who adapted it from the San Francisco Chronicle, who took it from The Babbo Cookbook .

(A blogger’s motto: Recyle, re-duce, reuse)

3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. sweet onions, such as Walla Walla or Vidalia, cut in half from stem to root and then into ¼-inch slices
2 Tbs unsalted butter
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
½ lb. leeks, cut into 1/8-inch rings and washed
½ lb. red onions, quartered and sliced
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
½ cup water
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 lb. rigatoni

To serve:
4 oz. ricotta salata, coarsely grated
¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 small handful chives, finely chopped
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Lemon wedges, optional

In a large (12- to 14-inch) skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the sweet onions, and reduce the heat. Cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent; then raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until deeply golden and caramelized. [This will take about 40-45 minutes] Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the onions to a bowl. Set aside.

In the same skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. When it has stopped foaming and is thoroughly melted, add the garlic, leeks, red onion, and scallions, and cook, stirring regularly, until very soft and golden. Add the water, and cook until the liquid evaporates. Season lightly with salt. Remove from the heat, and stir in the sweet onions.

[Side note: set aside about an hour to do this… you have to cook the onions at a pretty low heat so as to not burn the onions and therefore emparting a bitter taste. ]

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the rigatoni until tender but al dente. In the last minute of cooking, return the onion mixture to medium-high heat. Drain the pasta, add it to the onion mixture, and toss over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and toss more, if necessary, to thoroughly disperse the onions amidst the pasta. Serve immediately, topped with plenty of ricotta salata and sprinklings of parsley and chives. Salt as needed, and finish with a quick squeeze of lemon, if you like.

Yield: 4 servings

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Off to the supper club we go!

Hosted by premier decorateur and Crate & Barrel’s wet dream, Tyler, the stakes were much higher at our second supper club gathering. Now that the groundworks were laid, everyone came with dishes to boast, and better stories to tell.

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Here’s a snapshot of what was leftover from what we didn’t end of devouring at Arthur Ave. served as antipasta. Due credit to Jessica Pedicini for making those fine, fine meat curls. I hope you realize you got off easy this time because you have an Italian last name.

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A puppy-eyed Gavin came saddened by the turn out of his butternut squash with brown butter sage sauce. But it was good, it really was!

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Our guest clubber, Diana brought roasted beets with a pomegranite molasses over farro. She roasted the beets herself! Which reminded me of roasting beets at the restaurant-NOT a fun task.  

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Tyler’s Italian meatballs, made the authentic way, with veal, pork, and beef. And plenty of dousing with meatball juice over…and over… again.

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Matt’s tiramusu, made with a recipe passed on from generation to generation within a little known family living outside of Naples. I forget the family’s name… something like familia Nestlé?? 😉

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Tara slicing her delicious zucchini bread with a lemon icing. MM. Fortunately there were leftovers because I took it all home and ate it for breakfast even though it was actually a dessert…oops.

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This must have been taken before Jess took of bite of something, perhaps an over-fermented olive that caused her “head to detach from the rest of her body” and elevated her to a state of nirvana and discover a new self. Note to fellow clubbers: Jess is officially cut off after 2 glasses.

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OH. And if you’re wondering why your gay friend seemed quasi-gay and refused your invitation to wear shorts and watch High School Musical 3: Senior Year, that’s because the vortex of faggotry [3 shimays to Gavin for this moment of brilliance) temporarily relocated to the shag rug in Tyler’s living room last Sunday night.  You have been warned fellow fairy godmothers of NY; there will be a gay-out once a month so be prepared to plan your glittery festivities around our supper club gatherings.

Doing what we do best: eating and drinking!

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This is the gayest post I’ve ever written.

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One Response to “The Allium Family Massacre”

  1. 1 smelly

    That pasta was on my short list of one’s to make last time. glad it was yummy. I did a pasta tasting menu (like mario does) and all three of us passed out at 9pm. not from drinking, since we only did a bottle between us. but from the sheer weight of the pasta inside us. it was like little red riding hood — where she cuts open the wolf, sticks a whole bunch of rocks inside him, and then sews him back up. we seriously couldn’t move. Well, our bowels could, but that was later.

    when do you come home to us!?!?!?


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