[A postcard from my "Cooking from Scratch" column.]
One fun thing about living in Lawrence? The restaurants are always changing. One not-so-fun thing about living in Lawrence? The restaurants are always changing.
It's a mixed blessing. For every night I discover a new gem (hello there, Hank Charcuterie!) there's another where a place I loved closes down (I still miss you Westside Deli and Bistro). For every new menu creation I can't get enough of (kale and beet salad at Limestone, anyone?), there's another favorite that disappears forever (still holding a grudge about the butternut squash ravioli, Free State).
The pasta below was inspired by one such disappeared favorite.
Do you remember Esquina? For about two seconds between when it was a taco place and when it turned into Intourno, Esquina served upscale Latin American food. This pasta dish with spicy lamb, peas and mint was on the menu all spring, and I couldn't get enough.
When I make it at home, I use slow-cooked pork instead of lamb, just for economy's sake. You'll end up with extra meat, so plan to have tacos later in the week.
I also cut back the spice a bit so that my son will eat this, but I often add some hot sauce to my individual portion at the end.
With sweet, green spikes of peas and mint, this ghost of Lawrence's restaurant past makes a delicious spring-time supper.
Spicy Pork Pasta with Peas and Mint (serves 4)
For the pork roast
- about 1 1/2 pounds sirloin pork roast
- 1 adobo chili and about 2 tablespoons of the sauce it comes in, or more if you like it hot
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the pasta and sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 garlic clove
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup frozen peas
- a handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped into ribbons
- about 1 pound wide pasta, such a parpardelle or rombi
- parmesan cheese, for serving
Place the pork roast into the insert of your slow-cooker. Add the chili, sauce, stock and salt. If you'd like a spicier roast, feel free to add a few tablespoons more of the adobo sauce.
Then cook the meat on high until the roast easily falls apart when pierced with a fork, usually somewhere between 6-8 hours. Shred the meat, reserving about half of it for another use. Reserve about 3 cups of the pork juices, as well.
When you're ready for dinner, boil a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
As the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns the color of a caramel. Roughly chop the garlic and add it to the pot; then add 1 cup of the reserved pork juices, continuing to whisk. When the sauce has reduced down, add the pork and another 2 cups of juices. Let that cook over low heat just long enough to warm the pork back through, adding salt and pepper to taste.
When your pasta is ready, toss a cup of peas into the pork mixture and remove it from the heat. Portion the pasta out into bowls, scooping a generous ladleful of the pork and sauce over each portion. Top with sprinkles of mint and parmesan cheese.