Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Petite Pinna

I used the suggested pasta shape in this recipe as well. This particular recipe called for orecchiette. Orecchiette is a type of pasta whose shape resembles a small ear. In Italian, "ear" is orecchio, so this translates as "little ears". I have heard my favorite Italian chef, Giada, define this translation several times. Every time she mentions the small pasta I can't help but think of my best friend Amanda. Amanda has the littlest ears. I mean really extremely small teeny tiny ears.

The funniest story about Amanda's little ears is that one time I aided her in a very poor earring choice for our other best friend's wedding. You see, Amanda is really fun and flashy. She likes bold statement pieces when it comes to clothing and jewelery. So when our friend Lauren got married and dictated the bridesmaids must wear pearl studs, Amanda felt limited. I told her not to worry and that we would find pearl studs to fit her style. We went to the department store together and I found a pair of earrings that Amanda swears were the size of the golf balls. What can I say? - she likes to stand out. But considering the minuscule size of her sound detecting organs, huge white spheres may not have been the best choice. The earrings literally drooped down on her lobes and were visible in every photograph that Amanda appeared in that day. Lauren has been married almost five years now and Amanda still reminds me consistently of my fashion misdirection. I learned a valuable lesson that day - bigger isn't always better!

Crawfish Mac and Cheese

Adapted from Emeril Lagassse


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup diced pancetta
  • 1/2 cup small diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 pound cooked and peeled crawfish tails, with any fat
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta, or small shell pasta, cooked al dente, drained
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 cups grated white Cheddar
  • 2 cups grated fontina
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook pasta 10 minutes, drain and set aside.

Set a large, wide-mouthed 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta to the pot and cook the pancetta until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the butter and flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.

Add the half-and-half

and whisk until smooth.

Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Season with the salt, white pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg and cook for 3 minutes. Add the crawfish to the pot and stir to combine.

Remove from the heat and fold in the grated cheeses.

Once combined, stir in cooked pasta. Stir to combine well.

Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish such as a 9 by 13-inch casserole. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the Essence and sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Pour the last 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the breadcrumbs.

Bake uncovered until golden brown and bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes.


Unplanned Cooking said...

Love all the cheese! So creamy.

Krista said...

I can just picture giant pearl studs in your friend's tiny ears. I bet they were uncomfortable!

I love the sound of this mac and cheese. I bet all of the flavors are so good together!

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The Chef In My Head said...

This sounds amaaaazing!!! What a great idea. I will be making this later this week for sure! Have a wonderful New Year, LeslieMichele

PS I understand the kitchen aide love, I just got my dream Cuisinart Food Processor last month, I wanted to sleep with it next to my bed. Makes me happy!!

gaga said...

Looks decadent! I love fun pasta shapes too. Yummy.

Happy New Year!

Danielle said...

Girl your recipes make me wish I was back home in the south! I miss southern food!!