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Charlie Palmer's Orechietta Risotto-Style
with Country Ham, Peas
and Goat Cheese
In this dish, the orecchiette (the word means "little ears") is simmered in the same fashion as risotto, with gradual additions of liquid and frequent stirring so the pasta becomes infused with the flavor of the stock. The somewhat soupy sauce is enriched with goat cheese, which is balanced by the sweetness of peas and the saltiness of country ham-both added at the last moment so they retain their bright color and bite.
- 4 c chicken stock
- 2 T unsalted butter
- ½ c finely diced onion
- ½ clove garlic, minced
- 1 c orecchiette pasta
- 1 ½ cwhite wine
- ¼ lbcountry ham, cut in medium dice
- 1 c frozen peas
- ½ c fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
- Loose handful of Italian parsley, washed and coarsely chopped
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to keep it at a simmer.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a good pinch of salt, and sweat the onions until tender and translucent but not at all browned, about 5 minutes. Add the pasta and stir to coat well with the buttery onions.
- Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has either evaporated or been absorbed by the pasta.
- Begin adding the chicken stock a ladleful at a time-just enough to cover the pasta-and cook until it is almost completely absorbed. Continue adding stock, stirring and seasoning as you go so the flavors totally permeate the pasta.
- With the final addition of stock, add the ham and peas. Remove the pan from the heat when the pasta is still a bit soupy: It will thicken up on its own. Stir in the cheese and check the seasoning one last time. Sprinkle the parsley over the pasta and try not to eat it all right out of the pot.
Note: For more of a play on a traditional risotto, substitute orzo (a pasta that's shaped like rice) for the orecchiette.