Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fusilli Col Buco e Scungilli al Passata di Pomodoro

     Corkscrew Pasta with Italian Sea Snail en Tomato Puree!
     Scungilli is a large Whelk (Sea Snail) that is very mild tasting.  The spiral shell of this type of mollusk is usually much larger than Conch that are harvested in Florida.      
     Sliced poached fresh Scungilli is a nice choice, but it is a bit hard to find outside of Italy.  Because snails are highly perishable, Scungilli is usually marketed as a canned seafood product.  Imported Italian canned Scungilli is a very nice product and the small cans are usually single portion size.  Canned Scungilli from Italy is used by many Italian chefs in America and the meat is always very tender.
     Fusilli col buco simply translates to "Corkscrew Pasta."  This artisan pasta shape can be used in place of Spaghetti, Capellini or Linguine.
     The Italian word Passata translates to "pass through" or in a culinary sense, "to pass through a fine mesh strainer."  Passata di Pomodoro is a tomato sauce that is pressed through a fine mesh strainer.  Passata di Pomodoro can also be made with a hand turned food mill that has a fine grade strainer plate.  The Passata technique results in a tomato sauce that has much better texture than one that is simply pureed with a blender or food processor.
     A basic coarse tomato sauce is used to make Passata di Pomodoro.  The sauce is usually only flavored with garlic and onion.  The sauce is lightly seasoned with salt and black pepper.  No herbs are added.  Passata di Pomodoro is traditionally accompanies Gnocchi and of course, Pasta with Scungilli.
     Many pastas recipes in Italy require specific sauces.  The first fine Italian restaurant that I apprenticed in actually had five different tomato sauces on the menu and each was traditionally paired with specific recipes.  The Passata di Pomodoro was only used for the Linguine with Scungilli and Potato Gnocchi menu items.  
     The Italian chefs from Modena, Venice and Sicily that I apprenticed with, could explain why certain tomato sauces are "recipe specific" far better than I can.  For example, I have noticed that the internet is flooded with Scungilli Marinara Pasta recipes.  Marinara is not well suited for Scungilli, because the basil overwhelms the delicate flavor of the Scungilli.  A simple Passata di Pomodoro is the perfect choice, because it accents the delicate Scungilli flavor.  After one taste, I am sure that anybody would agree.  Passata di Pomodoro is superb with Scungilli!
     Passata di Pomodoro:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (Enough sauce for 2 petite portions or 1 large portion.)  
     Imported Italian canned crushed San Marzano Tomatoes and Plum Tomato Puree are best for this recipe.  Using these crushed and pureed Italian tomato products greatly reduces the labor time when pressing the sauce through a fine mesh strainer.  The strainer mesh should be less than 1/16".  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 1/4 cup of very finely minced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of very finely minced garlic.
     Gently sauté till the onions are clear in color.  (Do not brown the onions and garlic at all!)
     Step 2:  Add 6 ounces of imported Italian canned Plum Tomato Puree.
     Add 6 ounces of imported Italian canned Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer the sauce for 15 to 20 minutes.
     Stir the sauce often.
     *Try to stir the olive oil back into the sauce, each time that the olive oil separates.  The sauce is finished when the ingredients combine and there is no loose tomato juice or olive oil that separates.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Use a spoon or small spatula to press the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Set the sauce aside or chill the sauce for later use.
     *Passata di Pomodoro is always reheated to order!    
     Fusilli Col Buco e Scungilli al Passata di Pomodoro:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion.
     Imported Italian canned Scungilli is available in 6.5 ounce cans.  A 6.5 ounce can is a single portion of Scungilli, so this is a nice convenience.  The canned Scungilli is usually pre-sliced and it is tender.    
     If imported Italian canned Scungilli is used, be sure to save the Scungilli Broth from the can.  The same applies to the poaching broth when preparing fresh Scungilli.  A small amount of the Scungilli Broth will be added to the sauce. 
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of Fusilli col Buco in boiling water over high heat, till it becomes al dente.  (8 to 10 minutes)
     *The Scungilli al Passata di Pomodoro can be while the pasta cooks!
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 3:  Add a 6.5 ounce can of imported Italian Sliced Scungilli meat.  (Save the broth from the can.)
     Sauté the Scungilli till it becomes warm.
     Step 4:  Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red chile pepper.  (chile caribe)
     Add about 1 1/2 cups of the Passata di Pomodoro Sauce.
     Add 2 tablespoons of the Scungilli Broth from the can.
     Stir the sauce.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the sauce warm till the pasta is ready.
     Step 6:  When the Fusilli col Buco is al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the Fusilli col Buco Pasta to the sauce.
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Step 7:  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of finely grated Parmigiana Cheese on the pasta and sauce.
     Toss the sauce and pasta together a second time.
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the Fusilli Col Buco e Scungilli al Passata di Pomodoro on the center of a plate.
     Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of finely grated Parmigiana Cheese over the pasta.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     The Passata di Pomodoro Sauce is so smooth, that it easily clings to the Fusilli col Buco.  The bright garlic, onion and tomato flavor is perfect with Scungilli!

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