RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

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RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Oct 11, 2007 11:28 am

Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Utter the word "anchovies," and watch the action as everyone in the room moves quickly to one end or the other.

More than almost any other ingredient, the humble anchovy divides otherwise friendly folks into warring camps: Those who can't get enough of them and who'll stand happily over the sink eating them right out of the can; and those who are truly grossed out by those vile, hairy, disgusting little things.

If you're in the love-'em camp, I think you'll be smitten by today's featured recipe, a quick and simple pasta dinner that elevates broccoli with a simple sauce of olive oil, lots of garlic and ... gasp! ... a <i>whole can</i> of anchovies.

If you think you hate anchovies, you might be pleasantly surprised if you can somehow find the strength to give this recipe a try. Note well that you'll find no evidence of hairy little fish in the finished dish, and only the most haunting scent of the sea in a rich, salty flavor.

The recipe comes from Rome (I made this modified version from an online excerpt from the cookbook <i>Roma: Authentic Recipes from In and Around the Eternal City</i>, by Julia Della Croce), where dried fish have been used as a condiment for a mighty long time, perhaps ever since a pungent fish sauce called <i>garum</i> was all the rage in Caesar's days.

It's a quick and simple dish: A bunch of broccoli, a handful of garlic, a can of anchovies and pasta and you're good to go. Give it a try ... and if you do, let me know what you thought. Particularly if it makes you an anchovy convert.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

2 "trees" fresh broccoli, about 1 pound (240g)
1-2 large cloves garlic
2-ounce (56g) can anchovies packed flat in olive oil
Dried red-pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 ounces mezze rigatoni, rigatoni, penne or similar short pasta

PROCEDURE:

1. Rinse the broccoli and cut it into bite-size florets. If you're feeling thrifty, you can peel and slice the "trunk" into bite-size pieces, too, although using florets only makes for an attractive presentation.

2. Peel the garlic and mince it fine. Chop the anchovies fine, discarding any excess oil.

3. Heat the olive oil in a small saute pan or skillet over medium-low heat and gently cook the minced garlic with a small shake of dried red-pepper flakes (just enough for an accent; you don't want a fiery dish) until the garlic turns translucent and aromatic. Stir in the chopped anchovies and continue poaching gently for a few minutes, stirring until the anchovies dissolve into the oil. Set aside and keep warm.

4. Meanwhile, heat a large pot full of lightly salted water and cook the broccoli and pasta together until the pasta is done; at that point the broccoli will be very soft.

5. Drain the broccoli and pasta, catching a bit of the pasta water in a measuring cup. Put the broccoli and pasta in a warm serving bowl and toss with the anchovy and garlic oil and, if necessary, a bit of the pasta water to achieve a thick saucy texture. Serve with crusty bread and a salad as a hearty side dish or main course.

<B>MATCHING WINE:</B> Just about any light, crisp, seafood-friendly white will work splendidly here. I chose a prickly, dry <b>Fuzelo 2006 Vinho Verde</b>, but a Prosecco would have made me mighty happy as well. A Verdicchio or, for regional authenticity, a Roman Frascati, would have worked well, and the broccoli might make a particularly amiable match with a "grassy" Sauvignon Blanc.

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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby jbraun » Thu Oct 11, 2007 11:47 am

I have converted many people who claime to NOT like both Anchovies and Brocolli.

I never tell them there is anchovies in it until they claim they hate them.

This dish also needs plenty of Parmaggiano Reggiano to take it to the next level.

I love these quick dishes and have challenged many a Kraft Dinner eater who claims they dont have time to make anything healthy or good.

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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Robert J. » Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:11 pm

I love this dish. I also make it with Rapini. Yum either way.

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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:43 pm

jbraun wrote:This dish also needs plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano to take it to the next level.


JB, welcome to the forum! I'm glad you joined the conversation.

My only (slight) quibble there would be with authenticity - Italian fish dishes in general and (according to the author) this one in particular are generally not served with cheese.

But if you don't care about authenticity, then I can't disagree: Parmigiano would certainly add another dimension to this dish!
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Robert J. » Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:25 pm

Sorry JB. I missed that. Welcome to the best Wine/Food forum on the planet. Be sure and search for the Chili Thread and read up on Post #2. It is a metaphor for life.

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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Bob Ross » Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:22 pm

Janet loves the taste of anchovies but can't take the salt.

Are there any unsalted anchovies available anywhere.

Regards, Bob
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Celia » Thu Oct 11, 2007 5:46 pm

Robin, I loooove this dish. I make it just slightly differently, cutting the broccoli into very small florets and then cooking it down with the oil, anchovies and garlic until almost mush, then stirring through the pasta. Sometimes we use filled pasta to up the protein content of the dish - works a treat.

Bob, have you ever tried soaking the anchovies to get rid of some of the salt ? For some reason, I think soaking in milk would help, but it sounds wrong. :) I know we soak brined feta in milk if we really want to get the salt out of it. I'm not sure how they'd preserve anchovies if not in salt...
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Jenise » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:55 pm

H-h-h-hairy? :shock:
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Jay Baldwin » Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:18 am

At the insistence of the insistent Marcella Hazan, I sought out the large tins of salt-packed Sicilian anchovies. The difference between them and the bog-standard oil packed grocery store kind is plenty significant. I first used them in Janssen's Temptation, and I was a believer. The flavor is so much... more.

They're a bit more work... they're not filets but at least the head is removed! Pulling out the backbone and rinsing the body cavity is fairly easy. And, to answer other commenters, you can soak out the saltiness much more effectively than the ones that have bathed in oil, since these have never touched oil.

You won't use the whole tin for one recipe, or two or three most likely. I simply repacked the remaining ones with a fresh layer of very coarse sea salt, put the lid back on, and put the tin in a vacuum-sealed bag (i.e. Tilia Foodsaver enclosure). It kept for a year+ with no problem.

Looks something like this:
Image
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Max Hauser » Fri Oct 12, 2007 6:14 am

I came from a long creative gastronomic dinner tonight, looked in and saw this recipe, and thought (as an old friend likes to say), NOW we are cooking with gas! It's interesting, it's well explained, and brings out some good principles. Thanks for posting, Robin. I like those simple savory Italian pasta dishes with anchovies, but never imagined playing off a crunchy green vegetable like broccoli.

Anchovies got a bad US reputation (I think) because you just see one specific type: canned, oiled, and very very salty. Not so in Europe, where they're more popular. In the 1980s Kermit Lynch began importing Pic anchovies (he stopped recently). Those were light and tender, steeped not in salt but aromatic herbs and spices. You could lay one on a piece of toasted French bread (brushed with a little olive oil) and you had a basic Mediterranean sandwich.

Lately I get the Italian brands in little jars, such as Rizzoli (I don't claim that's the best), from the local A. G. Ferrari Italian-import chain here in the SF Bay area. Unless things changed lately, I think there are some Italian connections in NJ; Bob, why not mention your quest at a good Italian deli?

Anchovies are one of the "umami" ingredients (along with their ancient derivatives like Roman fish sauce -- a modern descendant, plus tamarind, is Worcestershire sauce, not to mention all those southeast-Asian fish sauces). Other umami ingredients are meat stocks, misos, soy sauces, cheeses (Reggiano!), fermented black beans, etc. (Incidentally if a recipe works with one of these ingredients, it often will work with others.) Unless animal in origin, they're often based on fermentation. That produces natural flavor enhancers.* These ingredients bring up flavors, add a "meaty" or "savory" component to a dish, even in small doses.

*If I remember, glutamates, guanylates, inosinates. That's why even if a restaurant adds no MSG, you get it anyway, naturally occurring.
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Oct 12, 2007 5:56 pm

Jay Baldwin wrote:I simply repacked the remaining ones with a fresh layer of very coarse sea salt, put the lid back on, and put the tin in a vacuum-sealed bag (i.e. Tilia Foodsaver enclosure). It kept for a year+ with no problem.


Refrigerated, I presume?
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Oct 12, 2007 5:59 pm

Max Hauser wrote:Anchovies got a bad US reputation (I think) because you just see one specific type: canned, oiled, and very very salty. Not so in Europe, where they're more popular.


Cogent points, Max, and thanks. (You too, Jay.) I would note, however, that for those of us who love the little beasts, even the standard variety is more than satisfying, particularly if you at least take care to look for those packed in olive oil. I tend to go also for brands with Italianate names, but this is probably just magical thinking.

I've also seen a fair amount of this type in Italy and never objected, although I've also enjoyed plenty of fresh.

Bottom line, I'm happy with the regular cans, *and* happy when I happen to have the higher-tier stuff.
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Robert Reynolds » Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:05 pm

Anchovies? Barf!
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Howard » Fri Oct 12, 2007 8:52 pm

I've made your pasta and broccoli with sausage many times Robin. Looks similar but different. Mmmmmmmmmmm
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Robert J. » Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:22 pm

Robin, I made this recipe for the staff lunch today at the Cooking School. I used aspiration instead of broccoli, though. It was great! Thanks for the reminder of this wonderful dish!

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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Jay Baldwin » Sat Oct 13, 2007 12:42 am

Refrigerated, yes.

But I'm not convinced that it would be necessary! Belt and suspenders; I had the refrigerator space.

Vacuum-packed and buried in salt... ain't no thing growing in that environment below 90°F!
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Jenise » Sat Oct 13, 2007 1:26 pm

Jay Baldwin wrote:They're a bit more work... they're not filets but at least the head is removed! Pulling out the backbone and rinsing the body cavity is fairly easy. And, to answer other commenters, you can soak out the saltiness much more effectively than the ones that have bathed in oil, since these have never touched oil.


Once, at the CIA, I had to prep about a 3 lb can of those. My hands smelled of fish for weeks. But, germaine to your point--I had not liked anchovies before but these were clearly on a whole 'nother level.
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Re: RCP /Foodletter: Pasta with broccoli and ... anchovies

Postby Robert J. » Sat Oct 13, 2007 4:32 pm

Robert Reynolds wrote:Anchovies? Barf!



Wuss.

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