Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tupper Lake

This isn't exactly the Lake Country of Northern Italy: actually it is the lake country of Northern New York. The publisher, Pietro, is comporting himself on Big Wolf Lake, near Tupper Lake, in the beautiful Adirondacks, on a very recent vacation.

However, even though we were far from a friendly Italian deli, we ate fine. The local Tupper Lake grocery had a wide variety of Buitoni pasta, and also a butcher who made wonderful sausage. Plus it was late in the summer, almost Labor Day, and the tomatoes were ripe and flavorful.

It did not take much to improvise successfully.

For a pound of penne, we took about a quarter cup of olive oil, added about five cloves of garlic, finely chopped, and then about thirty seconds later, an onion, also finely chopped. We let the onion get quite soft, almost starting to carmelize, when we added a half pound of this wonderful sausage, which we has also chopped. We cooked this over medium-high heat. The key is to continually pound the sausage with a wooden spoon as it cooks, to really break it up.

When the sausage was brown we added about four ripe tomatoes, which we had diced. We brought this mixture to a boil and then turned it down to a good simmer, about eight minutes, until the tomatoes had broken down. We added a good dose of salt and some freshly ground pepper, and stirred vigorously.

Meanwhile, of course, we had the penne in boiling water. When the penne were ready, we drained them (saving a cup of the liquid) and added them to the sauce, stirring well. If dry, we added some of the reserved water.

Then we did our special trick: cover the pasta and sauce, turn up the heat and steam vigorously for about a minute. This gets the pasta steaming hot, of course. And serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan.

Not quite Lake Como cuisine, but not bad!