Thursday, November 5, 2015

Farfalle Valentino with Salmon and Artichoke

     A Romantic Pasta!
     Valentino Sauce traditionally accompanies Farfalle Pasta sauce.  I am not sure about the origins of Valentino sauce.  More than likely Valentino Sauce is a New York Italian creation, although several Italian chefs that came directly from Italy to restaurants where I was working already knew the recipe.  
     The better question concerns why this sauce is called Valentino.  The answer is obvious!  This sauce is designed to appeal to the ladies! 
     Valentino Sauce is always made to order and it is never supposed to be made ahead of time.  Valentino Sauce is made with tomato puree, vodka, cream or besciamella.  Valentino sauce is always delicately seasoned.  Only enough tomato is added for the start of a Valentino sauce to turn the sauce a light pink color.
     The trick to making Valentino sauce is to flambé the small amount of tomato puree in the pan to enhance the tomato flavor.  The light caramelization of the tomato sauce increases flavor.  French chefs refer to this technique as "pincer," which means "to pinch more flavor."  
     After the small amount of tomato puree is flambéed, the cream or thin besciamella sauce is added and the sauce is reduced to the proper consistency.  The goal is to create a rich velvety tomato cream that is pink in color and gentle on the palate.  The vodka imparts very little flavor at all.  

     Vodka Sauce is a similar sauce.  Vodka Sauce is usually made only with vodka and béchamel sauce or cream.  Some chefs add tomato puree to Vodka Sauce.  Vodka Sauce has a more pronounced vodka flavor because the amount of vodka added is a higher proportion than what is added to Valentino sauce.  As a result, not all of the alcohol is denatured.  
     Even so, I have seen many Italian chefs make Valentino sauce the same way that the tomato version of Vodka Sauce is made.  It is just a matter of preference or a different interpretation.  
     "Did women in the early 1900's need vodka to be swooned by Valentino or were the women sober?"  This question lends to interpretation, because some say that Valentino was the world's greatest lover, while others might say something tongue in cheek, like "She must have been drunk to fall for that guy!"  
       One thing that is certain is the word Valentino refers to the world's greatest lover, Rudolph Valentino.  Because of the association with this early 1900's sex symbol, Farfalle Valentino is usually served on Valentine's Day at romantic Italian restaurants.  Thats amore!
     Farfalle Valentino with Salmon and Artichoke:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.
     Adding salmon and artichokes increases the appeal!
     Farfalle take about 10 minutes to cook al dente.  The sauce can be made in the same amount of time as it takes to cook the dried pasta!  At the finest Italian restaurants that I worked in, we cooked every pasta to order (a la minute). 
     Step 1:  Start cooking 1 portion of farfalle pasta in a pot of boiling water over high heat.
     Gently stir the pasta occasionally, so it does no stick.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Sauté till the shallot turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 cup of imported Italian canned tomato puree.  (Italian tomatoes are the best!)
     Add sea salt and 1 small pinch of black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of minced basil leaf.
     Gently sauté for a few seconds, till the tomato sauce becomes aromatic.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup of vodka.
     Allow the burning alcohol to lightly singe the small amount of tomato puree in the pan.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of cream.  (Or add 1 cup of thin Besciamella sauce.)  
     Simmer and reduce the sauce till is a very thin soupy consistency.
     Step 5:  Add 3 ounces of salmon filet that is cut into thin slices.
     Add 4 blanched fresh artichoke hearts (or canned artichoke hearts) that are cut in half.
     *Do not stir the sauce after adding the salmon or the salmon pieces will break apart!
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  (Add a splash of milk if the sauce gets too thick.)
     Step 6:  *By now, the farfalle pasta should be cooked al dente.
     Drain the water off of the farfalle pasta.
     Add the pasta to the sauce.
     Gently toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Step 7:  Mound the Farfalle Valentino with Salmon and Artichoke on plate.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of finely grated Parmigiana Cheese over the pasta.
     Garnish with a basil sprig.

     Irresistibly delicious!  

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