Sunday, January 17, 2010

Penne Rigate with Spicy Braised Swordfish

The pasta recipes in this month's Food and Wine have been calling to me. Last night I prepared the Penne Rigate with Spicy Braised Swordfish and was incredibly pleased with the results, even though I forgot to buy one ingredient, anchovies. No, I didn't forget them on purpose. I really like anchovies; but even if you don't, use them. You see, their little secret is that if you put them in a saute pan with some olive oil and cook for 30 seconds or so, they just plain dissolve, leaving just a mysterious, salty flavor in their wake. Next time, I won't forget the anchovies.

I was worried about using two whole jalapenos; the jalapenos at my market are huge, so I only bought and used one, and it was ample. I liked the way the cooked jalapeno mellowed and provided a subtle heat throughout the sauce. It wasn't as "in your face" as it is in salsa and other raw dishes.

The braised swordfish was tender and flavorful; in fact, the only criticism this dish received was from my husband, who wished there was more swordfish on his portion.

Here's the recipe, copied straight from Food and Wine, with my notes in parentheses.

Penne Rigate with Spicy Braised Swordfish
Recipe by Marcia Kiesel, Food and Wine magazine
Serves 4
Total time: 50 minutes (It took more like 30 minutes, tops)

The tomato sauce here—with big pieces of flaked swordfish and slivers of jalapeño—gets nicely absorbed by the penne. And, judge Michael Schlow adds, "There's a good proportion of tomatoes and fish to pasta, and it all comes together so well."

1 tablespoon salt-packed capers (I used regular capers, rinsed)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 large jalapeños, thinly sliced (I used one jalapeno, which was plenty for us)
6 large anchovy fillets, minced (I forgot to buy the anchovies)
1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken stock if you don't use wine)
One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
1/2 pound penne rigate (I used Barilla Plus)
1/2 pound skinless swordfish steak
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped basil (I was out of basil from my pesto making)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a bowl, cover the capers with warm water. Let stand for 20 minutes; drain. (This is if you're using the salt-packed capers. Just rinse regular capers.)

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and jalapeños and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add the anchovies and cook, mashing, until dissolved, about 30 seconds. Add the white wine and simmer over moderately high heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the penne until al dente. Drain.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and add to the sauce along with the capers. Cover and cook over low heat, turning once, until the fish is just cooked through and can be flaked into large, moist pieces, about 8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a plate. (Taste the sauce and) season with salt and pepper. Add the penne to the sauce and simmer over low heat for 1 minute, stirring. Spoon the pasta and sauce into bowls and top with the flaked swordfish. Garnish with the basil and parsley and serve.

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