Marcella's pasta w/ leeks...and my twists
Since this recipe (see link) has been discussed a few times already, thought I'd keep the dialogue running by adding in my experience. I recall that a few hounds were underwhelmed by the dish or thought it needed more, so perhaps my twists will offer some ideas.
I intended to follow the exact recipe, but halfway through cooking, I could tell the result would not be to my liking. Overall, I think the original recipe is good, but if I had made it exactly as suggested, the sweetness of the leeks would have been cloying, esp. since there weren't many other flavors to counterbalance. While the pale green of the leeks was very pretty, also needed other colors for visual contrast.
What I did: Only had three leeks instead of six and didn't want to halve the recipe, so decided to throw in some sliced fennel to compensate. Combo of leek w/ fennel was wonderful IMO, and I would plan to do it this way again. When I noticed that the veggies would be too sweet on their own, I crisped some bacon pieces on one side of the pan and then mixed them w/ the veggies to finish cooking. Also added grated nutmeg and lemon juice after I added requisite cream.
Overall, my additions of fennel, bacon, nutmeg, and lemon juice all seemed to brighten the flavor and presentation of Marcella's recipe IMHO. The sauce melded seamlessy w/ the pasta, and the pastel colors on my plate evoked images of the coming Spring and Easter. I used spaghetti since it was the only pasta I had on hand, but would use a shorter pasta (as recommended) like penne rigate next time.
Thanks for the recipe. Please share other twists or thoughts on this.
re: Carb Lover
For 8 oz pasta I use 1 cup consisting of the juice from a small can of clams plus enough buttermilk to make a cup. To that I add 1T cornstarch and pour over the braised leeks. Simmer to thicken, then dump in the clams.
The flavor is distinct enough so that you don't want a big plateful.