Dinner the other night was an experiment spawned from the recesses of someone else’s blog post. It’s the way these things happen sometimes. If you’re allergic to walnuts like a certain legal theory comrade of mine, then I suppose you could try substituting almonds or cashews for the walnuts. Parmesan cheese is crucial to this recipe as it adds vitality and depth to the sauce, an aged parmesan like parmigiano reggiano is well worth the extra expense if you can afford it. The porcini powder is a flourish the helps the tang of the dish without directly introducing salt and supports the mid-to-back palette flavour of the humble button mushrooms. I’ve chosen to use shallots in this recipe for their domina grassy sweetness and faintly sour flavour compared to french shallots, brown onions, or red onions. This flavour profile of the shallot incorporates itself into the protein of the walnut that reinforces the ‘nice side’ of pork rather than the uric edge it can get if cooked in other ways.
- Pasta, preferably something that holds the sauce like a contoured fettuccine
- Pork fillet cut to 8mm dice
- 150g of fresh walnuts (shelled)
- x3 shallots, chopped, greenery reserved for finishing
- x1 stick of celery, finely chopped
- x1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
- x5 medium button mushrooms, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 medium zucchini/courgette, finely chopped
- x2 garlic cloves
- x2 tbl of tomato paste
- x1 tbl of yellow mustard
- x1 heaped tbl of flour (all purpose or 00 if you’re feeling fancy)
- 3/4 cup of sage leaves, chopped
- 1/2 tsp of porcini mushroom powder (optional)
- olive oil
- white stock such as chicken or pork (and dry white wine if you want)
- parmigiano reggiano
Generally I find cooking the pasta as I’m reducing the sauce to be the most efficient method. You’ll be adding the pasta to the sauce at the end anyway so it is able to stand after draining if necessary.
- Preheat the oven to 150C
- In a large hi rimmed pan or deep saucepan warm a little olive oil
- Add your pork to the pan in batches so that it doesn’t become too crowded and cook until sealed all over.
- Add the flour to the pan and stir through, covering the pork and absorbing the juices.
- Remove and reserve the pork. Repeat previous steps for the pork if doing it in batches, distribute the flour accordingly (too much flour leaves the sauce tasting a bit odd).
- Spread the walnuts over baking paper on a baking tray and put in the oven for 10-12 minutes. When they come out they should crumble under the pressure of your fingers.
- Add the fennel, celery, and shallots to the pan at a medium heat and sautée while stirring up any residue from the pork.
- Once fennel is soft add the zucchini, mushrooms and pork and occasionally stir for five minutes.
- Remove the walnuts from the oven and add 3/4 of them to the sauce by loosely crushing them over the sauce. Reserve the remaining walnuts for serving.
- Check the pasta, it should be done. Remove and drain.
- While the combination in the pan cooks, combine the tomato paste and mustard in a bowl with 1 cup of stock (or dry white wine). Crush the garlic into the bowl and stir through.
- Add the contents of the bowl to the saucepan after the zucchini and mushroom have softened. Stir through.
- Top up the saucepan with stock until almost covering. Bring to a low simmer and cover, leaving on a low heat for 20 minutes.
- Bring water to boil for the pasta and cook the pasta until just before or on al dente (al dente is important because it’s going to be cooked slightly further in the sauce).
- Uncover the sauce after 20 minutes and check the level of the liquid, you want no more than a cup and a half to be present — reduce accordingly, this may take 10 minutes but don’t continue for more than 12 as it will dry out the pork.
- On a low heat add the sage and porcini powder, cover the sauce in a layer of finely grated parmigiano reggiano and stir.
- Once the cheese dissolves the sauce will become a creamy red hue, add the green shallot trimmings and fold the pasta into the sauce, covering with all those lovely juices.
- Serve topped with grated parmigiano reggiano and a scattering of walnuts.