27 January 2014

Tagliatelle with Charred Corn and Cheese

My wife and I got married in 2010 and spent our honeymoon in one of our favorite places in the world: New York City. One of the coolest things about New York is obviously its wealth of excellent places to eat and drink, and we visited a few real gems when we were there. One of them was Mario Batali's eatery Babbo next to Washington Square Park. We made the (what turned out to be) poor decision of going for the pasta tasting menu with wine pairing. It was a poor decision because there were five courses of pasta and three desserts, each with a glass of wine. I don't think I've ever been so full in my life, and I hit a plateau of fullness sometime around course number three. The rest of the evening is a blur, but I distinctly remember being very sad I couldn't eat everything in front of me.

The first course that night - black tagliatelle with charred corn, a light cream sauce, and cheese - was the most memorable to us both. It was delightful: light, creamy, salty, sweet, just an amazing (and simple) collection of flavors. I recently decided to try to recreate the course and, as you can see in the picture above, did not make black tagliatelle. I wanted to make it right away and did not have the patience to wait for an order to arrive (Amazon sells squid ink as well as squid ink pasta), but I do recommend using it as the difference in color makes the dish pop visually in a completely different way than what I made.

Tagliatelle with Charred Corn and Cheese

1 lb tagliatelle, preferably colored by squid ink
2 ears of corn
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch chives
Castelmagno cheese (can be replaced with Parmesan - I used Cotija for this recipe)
vegetable oil
black pepper

1. Char the corn. You can do this on a grill (preferred) or under your broiler. Brush some vegetable oil on them, sprinkle with some salt, and place on the grill, turning frequently until the corn is blistered. If using a broiler, place the corn in a broiler safe pan, place as close to the heating element as possible, and turn frequently until blistered.

2. Using a sharp knife, cut the corn off the cob and place in a bowl. Cover with paper towels to keep somewhat warm.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add two tablespoons of salt (you want your pasta water to be as salty as sea water).

4. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Mince the garlic and add to the pan when the butter has melted. Cook the garlic until soft but do not let it get any color - this should take less than two minutes.

5. Add the wine and reduce to about 1/2 the original volume, which should take about two minutes.

6. Add the cream to the saucepan and increase the heat to medium high, bringing it to a simmer. Simmer the cream for about five minutes or until thick enough to coat a spoon.

7. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and add to the cream sauce. Stir to coat.

8. Plate the pasta with the sauce, top with the corn and shave the cheese over the top. Slice the chives into 1-inch pieces and place on top. Enjoy with a robust white wine.

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