Orecchiette with Pork Belly Sausage & Spring Vegetable


Visitors to Puglia elude Bari. They might of heard that Bari is unsafe, that no one should ever go into the old part of town dubbed “Bari Vecchio”. For the food lover, the most seductive part of Bari Vecchio is the “Quartiere delle Orecchiette.” It is two short alleys lined with women seated outside their houses making Orecchiette, the way their mothers and grandmothers made it. And its not to be overlooked.
If I had an Italian Grandmother from Puglia, and she were to come to visit me in California, then I would like to fancy that this is a dish that she would cook for me. You see… Italian food is all about using the abundance around you. And California has a profuseness amount of produce to choose from. The humble beginnings of Orecchiette or “Little Ears” started during medieval times. The peasants only consumed pasta twice a year, Christmas and Easter. The nobles would allow them to sweep up the burnt wheat “Farina Arsa” from the floor of the mill, and they would mix this with pure flour to stretch the dough. Orecchiette was created during this time. And the rare flour to America “Farina Arsa” is still used in parts of Puglia.
My Interpretation is roused by the bounty of green vegetables we gather in the spring from the farmers markets in southern California along with the Orecchiette which is the star of the show. They pair so perfect with sausage and chopped rapini because of their similarity in size.
While dining at a local dim sum restaurant in Orange County we were introduced to Pea Tendrils sauteed in garlic. And when I say introduced I mean the use of cooking the pea tendrils with the stems on. You see in all of the fine dining and fussy restaurants i have worked in, we would take the leaves off the stem. It is so natural and unpretentious to leave them on the stem. That was my Italian minded motive to serve them with this shape of pasta. As the shape lends well to things with texture and similar size. ENJOY !!!
The digital video is designed for you to work through the dish on your handheld media device.
For the Semolina Pasta Dough you will need:
4 1/4 Cups of Fancy Durum Wheat Flour (Semolina)
1 1/4 Cups of Water
Combine the semolina flour and water in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Turn off the mixer and remove the paddle attachment, and replace it with the dough hook on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a flour dusted work surface and knead for 20 to 25 minutes until smooth and silky. Wrap in plastic and let sit for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Roll the pasta into thin logs. Cut with a knife into like size small pieces. With the back of the knife press the dough into the cutting board and smear the dough which will create the desired tearing effect on the surface. Wrap around your thumb and pinch.
You will also need for this recipe:, 1 1/4 # of Pork Shoulder Butt, 1/1/4 # of Pork Belly, 2 Calabrian Chilis, 1 Tablespoon of Salt, 1 Tablespoon of Sugar, 1 Tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of Black Peppercorns, 2 each Calabrian Chili’s (Tutto Calabria Brand) or you can use 1 each Red Fresno Chili, 12 garlic cloves, 1 Sweet Onion, 1 Carrot, 1 medium sized Fennel, 3 Pieces of Green Onion, 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, 4 tablespoons of Butter, 1 to 2 cups of chicken stock, 1/4 pound of pea tenrils
Brioche or Challah for Breadcrumbs, Finishing Extra Virgin Olive Oil, A chunk of Parmesan, 1 Meyer Lemon or Regular Lemon, 1 cup of sugar snaps sliced, 1/2 pound of fresh fava beans

Impress Your Guests with Homemade Burrata

If you want to impress your friends with a luxurious Italian ingredient then burrata is your go to. At Urban Pie, we like to think of burrata as the evil twin of mozzarella. It is much creamier and more gluttonous than mozzarella. The translation literally means “butter.” We will cover the art of making curds for mozzarella in another lesson but for now, I will show a fool proof method to the mozza-madness.

First off you need to source out mozzarella curds and fresh mozzarella. Always source a local cheesemaker or dairy. I use Gioia based out of Southern California. Go to your local whole foods and have them order in the curds for you. You won’t have a problem finding the fresh mozzarella. It’s that simple. You will need some heavy cream, about 2 balls of mozzarella to make 5 pieces of burrata and exactly 21 oz of mozzarella curds for this recipe.

Next, we will make the “stracciatella” which translates to “torn apart.” Take a couple pieces of fresh mozzarella and grate it on the larger side of a cheese grater into a bowl. Add in a little heavy cream until you have the consistency of cottage cheese and finish with a good quality sea salt. Set the stracciatella aside.

Meanwhile, heat up a pot of water with at least a gallon of water to 170 degrees using a thermometer.  Then dice up 21 ounces of mozzarella curds into half inch cubes and sprinkle over three tablespoons of salt. Place into a bowl. Pour over 2 quarts of the warm water and let sit for exactly 2 minutes. Pour off the water and then pour 2 more quarts of the 170 water over the softened curds. Start to push the curds together with two rubber spatulas into a ball. Then with a large metal serving spoon pull up the curds into the air and stretch them two to three times being careful not to overwork the curds.

Form them into a ball with making sure to use plastic gloves. Pull off a piece of mozzarella and  form a small pancake in the palm of your hand. Stuff the “stracciatella” onto the middle of the mozzarella sheet and pull up the sides of the burrata as if you work going to make a sachet. You can tight a knot or pull off a piece and tuck it under. Then put the burrata into a cool saltwater brine to set. It is said that Italians used to brine the mozzarella in ocean water if that give you an idea of how salty your brine should be. Pull out the mozzarella from the brine about twenty minutes before serving.

I would suggest filling it with some confit tomatoes with basil pesto, or some crushed peaches with mint. I guarantee that your guests have not witnessed or indulged in a stuffed burrata. This stuffed burrata recipe is the “Public Display of Affection” of the curd world.  Serve with some good quality olive oil, sea salt and grilled bread.