Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanksgiving Inspired Pasta

I often experiment when I cook for myself. I like to look at recipes for inspiration and love to look through cookbooks, but rarely follow them. Today at the grocery store, I decided to make a Thanksgiving inspired pasta for lack of anything better to make. I picked up some hot turkey sausage, shitake mushrooms, red onion, fresh sage, fresh cranberries, skim milk ricotta and some whole wheat fusilli (still trying to keep the meal somewhat healthy.) I was pretty excited (re: hungry) for this pasta---how could it possibly not be delicious? Well, I was wrong. It could definitely not be could be horrible.

I cooked the pasta with some garlic and sage in salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, I cooked the sausage and broke it up into pieces. I removed the sausage, sauteed garlic, onions, and mushrooms until tender. In a separate pot, i cooked the cranberries with some water, ground cinnamon and light brown sugar. This is where I faltered and underestimated the tartness of fresh cranberries. They need a LOT of sugar to to be edible and not bitter. Understanding ingredients is so crucial to good cooking. I added the cooked cranberries to my vegetables, dumped in the pasta, some chopped sage and stirred in ricotta. I seasoned it up with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and grated parmesan cheese. It was creamy, salty, spicy and BITTER. The stupid under seasoned cranberries ruined my whole dish. I really didn't even want to eat it but I was starving so I ate it anyway. The things I do for my craft. I want to try this again with properly sweetened cranberries to see how it comes out.

The moral of this blog is that even if think you can't cook, get in the kitchen and (safely) try it out. Every bad dish teaches you what not to do next time. Even trained professionals like me royally mess up. I would never serve this dish to anyone in its current state. I would probably dump it in the trash and order Thai if I had planned to make it for someone. The more you do it, the better you get. Happy cooking!

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