Saturday, December 13, 2008
Frankies Spuntino's Cavatelli with Brown Butter, Sage, and Faicco's Hot Sausage
Frank Bruni outed our favorite restaurant last week in the New York Times. It was hard enough to get into Frankies Spuntino before the article. Now, good luck!
Still, I urge you to go to the restaurant. I urge you to put your name in (they won't take reservations, and won't take your name over the phone—they have to "see the whites of your eyes," they once told us), grab a drink at the cheap bar down the block, and bide your time until you can order this pasta. Go ahead and order the antipasto plate with its delicately sliced prosciutto and lovely roasted vegetables, but don't skip this cavatelli. It's hot and spicy and rich, perfectly al dente. We devoured it (for the umpteenth time) the night we got engaged, late after calling our families to spread the news and tipsy with champagne and the sparkle of Matt's great-grandmother's ring. But it's really great on an ordinary day, too.
Today, walking around in the cold winter sun after a stop at the Strand, I steered myself westward. Faicco's pork store, where Frankies gets its sausage, is a worthy destination. Even if its 28 degrees out. Not only do they make terrific sausage, but they sell a variety of fresh and cured meats as well as imported canned goods and pasta. I picked up a braciole (pre-rolled!) for Sunday Ragu along with the craveable spicy sausage. I harvested the last of our sage, though we could have added more, since the sage loses its bitterness in the sauce and really is an essential flavor in the dish.
The elements of the recipe are simple: short, stubby cavatelli (ideally fresh, though I substituted another short dried pasta), brown butter, sage, and sausage. A little garlic. The sausage infuses the sauce with savory heat. I'll continue to tweak when I try this again, but here's the gist:
Cavatelli with Brown Butter, Sage, and Hot Sausage
Inspired by Frankies Spuntino (if only they would give me their recipe!)
1/2 pound cavatelli or short pasta
3 links hot sausage (I heartily recommend Faicco's if you're in New York.)
3-4 T butter
1 cup sage leaves. Don't be stingy.
3 cloves garlic, chopped
parmesan, salt, pepper for serving
Bring water to a boil. Brown sausage, whole, until mostly cooked. Remove from pan and slice into coins. Cook pasta according to package directions—do NOT over cook, pasta should be quite al dente. Meanwhile, add butter to the pan, cook over moderate heat about 5 minutes until beginning to color. I may have stopped too early, this should get quite nutty. But do not burn! Add sage leaves and garlic, cook for a minute to infuse flavors. Return sausage to pan, toss. When pasta is cooked, drain and add (along with a few tablespoons of pasta water), cook for a minute over low heat, stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve with parmesan and red wine.