[Photographs: Andrew Janjigian]
I went to culinary college in Emilia-Romagna, and after a protracted day at La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana attempting to digest classes about pasta-rolling, wine-identifying, and cheese-tasting taught in one other language, the very last thing I needed to do was go grocery procuring and make myself dinner.
Fortunately, the pantry staples of Parma are fairly scrumptious. Your fridge is often stocked with prosciutto, panna da cucina (“cooking cream”), and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Seize some peas from the freezer, and you may have a candy, salty, creamy bowl of pasta prosciutto e piselli very quickly. It’s as traditional and crowd-pleasing as American mac & cheese, simply a lot, significantly better.
Selecting the Proper Prosciutto
Within the States, the phrase “prosciutto” is synonymous with the dry-cured hams famously made in Parma, in Emilia Romagna, and San Daniele del Friuli, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In Italy, these hams fall within the class of prosciutto “crudo” (uncooked). In fact, they don’t seem to be uncooked legs of pork—they’re cured for months—however in addition they aren’t cooked, like prosciutto “cotto,” or smoked, like speck from Alto Adige (if you wish to be taught extra, try our information to Italian salumi).
Whereas prosciutto crudo might reign supreme for salumi boards, cotto is usually a greater ham to prepare dinner with. At the beginning, cotto is rather more reasonably priced, because it is not aged for months (time, diminished yield because of moisture loss, and the area required for hanging are all components that drive up the worth of dry-aged meats). Second, prosciutto cotto stands up higher to cooking than crudo, which turns into chewy, leathery, and intensely salty when subjected to intense warmth, whereas additionally shedding lots of the nuances of its distinctive taste. The extra subdued salinity and delicate taste of prosciutto cotto, which is way nearer to American-style deli ham, is best suited to recipes like this pasta; save the crudo to eat by itself, in sandwiches, or draped over pizzas after they arrive out of the oven.
For this dish, you will need ham that is been lower right into a small cube, slightly than into skinny slices; cubes of ham are simpler to eat, and so they work properly as a salty counterpart to the candy little peas. Ask the individual on the deli counter to chop the ham in a thick single piece you can then cube up at house.
Which Makes a Higher Sauce? Butter or Cream?
The sauce for pasta prosciutto e piselli is typically a buttery emulsion (melted butter emulsified with starchy pasta cooking water to make a creamy sauce) and typically made with cream for a quadruple-P: pasta, panna, prosciutto, e piselli. I favor the thicker and richer cream–based mostly model, which can also be simpler to make as a result of there is no finicky emulsion to are inclined to: lowering cream is as straightforward because it will get for pasta sauces. Bear in mind, that is the dish you must make while you’re exhausted and needing some further pampering.
Making this model could not be simpler: Sweat a bit of onion in butter together with the ham, recent woodsy herbs, and floor nutmeg. Add a bit of white wine, adopted by cream, and simmer that whereas cooking dried penne. As soon as the pasta is simply shy of al dente, switch it to the sauce with some starchy cooking water to complete cooking. Fold in a handful of frozen peas proper on the finish and bathe all the pieces with Parmigiano and you’ve got the proper consolation pasta.