It was the eve of Christmas, La Vigilia, in southern Italy, and in Italian-American families, Festa dei sette pesci, but as we’re neither Italian nor Catholic, I thought we could get away with just one fish last night.
But it was a very special fish, and there was pasta too!
- one large cloves of Rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm, sliced thinly, heated inside a deep enameled cast iron pan over medium-high flame, along with one dried whole hot pepper, dried Sicilian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, and a bit of crushed, dark, home-dried heatless Habanada pepper (gathered fresh from Norwich Meadows Farm last year), until the garlic was almost starting to color, pieces of half of a skinned and boned smoked local eel from P.E. & D.D. Seafood added and stirred until warmed through, half of the amount of a savory pangrattato*, prepared earlier, mixed in and stirred to combine, the cooked and drained pasta (8 ounces of Setaro spaghetti from Buon Italia), added to the pan, tossed with the eel and pangrattato and stirred over low heat for a couple of minutes, adding more than a cup of the reserved pasta water while doing so to keep the mix moist, the dish served in low bowls, where it was sprinkled with more pangrattato and finished with slices of several tiny scallions from Willow Wisp Farm
*The pangrattato was prepared by adding about a third of a cup of homemade breadcrumbs to about a fourth of a cup of olive oil in which more thinly-sliced Rocambole garlic cloves and 2 rinsed salted anchovies from Buon Italia had been heated for a short while, and, after being stirred for 4 or 5 minutes, the mixture was drained onto paper toweling, bringing it to room temperature, then placed inside a small bowl
- the wine was an Italian (Toscana) white, Villa Antinori Bianco 2016
- the music was a recording of a beautiful performance of Handel’s 1738-1739 oratorial, ‘Saul’, with Rosemary Joshua, Emma Bell, Lawrence Zazzo, and Jeremy Ovenden, among others, René Jacobs directing Concerto Cologne Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus [while it was Christmas Eve, we thought we’d already listened to a lot of New Testament music this week, so we’e go for the old one for a change]