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SMOKED MUSHROOMS AND TASSO PASTA


I had a dish similar to this at Commander's Palace in New Orleans, and nearly levitated. It was fantastic. So I went home, puttered around in the kitchen and came up with this. If you want to experiment and get exotic, try using wild mushrooms, like shiitakes, chanterelles, or a blend.

4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 - 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped, including most of the tops
1/4 pound of tasso
2 - 3 teaspoons Creole seasoning blend
1 pound white button mushrooms, or your favorite wild mushrooms
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
3/4 pound fresh angel hair or other favorite pasta

Put the liquid smoke into the bottom a large Dutch oven. Put a wire rack in the bottom of the Dutch oven and put the mushrooms on top of it. Cover and turn the heat to high for 5 minutes. Turn it off and let the mushrooms stay in the covered pot for about 20 minutes. Remove and slice.

Melt the butter in a large saute pan, add the olive oil and mix. Saute the garlic over extremely low heat for about 10 minutes. Do not brown or burn the garlic; this is to let the flavor saturate the butter/oil mixture. Add the green onions and saute over low-medium heat for a few minutes. Add the tasso and Creole seasoning and saute for 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and continue cooking over low-medium heat until the mushrooms are cooked. Add parsley and adjust seasonings to taste.

Serves 4.

Serve over freshly cooked pasta. I like angel hair, but penne, fusilli or radiattore would work well.

If you want to make this slightly better for you, omit the butter and
add a little more olive oil, but the butter gives it a great flavor.
The original dish was all butter, but was an appetizer-sized portion;
as a main course, this is a little bit better for you. Still, it's
not diet food ...




SHRIMP AND TASSO PASTA

From Patout's Restaurant.

This recipe is also excellent with oysters, scallops, or even
crawfish. (If you like smoked oysters, try it substituting 2 dozen
oysters for the shrimp; the fresh oysters stay nice and plump, and the
dish gets its smoky flavor from the tasso.)

If you can't get tasso, you can substitute a cured smoked ham, but it
really won't be the same.

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, OR
+ 1 pound crawfish tails, OR
+ 1 pound scallops, OR
+ 2 dozen fresh shucked oysters
1/2 pound tasso, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 pint heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons fresh basil, or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 pound spaghetti, fresh if possible
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Pour the cream into a large heavy skillet and place over medium heat.
Stir the cream when it begins to rise to keep it from overflowing;
when it comes to a boil, add the tasso, salt, peppers and herbs and
let simmer for 8-10 minutes. The cream sauce should be fairly thick,
especially if you're using oysters (the liquid from the oysters will
thin it out). You can prepare the sauce ahead to this point.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and drop in the
pasta. Cook until just al dente. Meanwhile, return the sauce to a
simmer, stir in the shrimp (or oysters, scallops, crawfish, etc.),
green onions and parsley and cook until the shrimp turn pink (or until
the oysters curl around the edges), about 3-4 minutes. Drain the pasta
and divide among bowls. Ladle the sauce over and toss; serve with
freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4-6.

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