Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Daniel Wolinsky's Tagliarini with Hot Sausage and Clams

Last week I promised to share a pasta dish that Daniel Wolinsky, Chef de Cuisine at cucina SORELLA in Kensington, taught me how to make. Wolinsky, who teaches pasta-making classes at the restaurant, made a simple Tagliarni with Hot Sausage and Clams. Like many of us who cook at home, he created a "what's in the fridge" style dish. Initially he was thinking of a corn pesto, which intrigued me. But, there was no corn around that day. But clams and other seafood were. So we were going to go in a seafood and tomato pasta direction. Until he noticed his house-made sausage. Scratch the seafood. Instead it evolved into just clams with the sausage, along with garlic, and even green garlic (it is, after all, still spring), lemon juice, and white wine. Actually, there was fresh minced basil, too, which you can certainly add, although Wolinsky didn't include it in the recipe below.

If you don't know Daniel Wolinsky, it's probably because he's fairly new to San Diego. He came here from New York last year to open the restaurant. Originally from upstate New York, he grew up cooking as a kid. His mom, he said, is a great cook. He is especially fond of what he calls her "funeral" cookies--cookies packed with everything from coconut to walnuts to chocolate chips. They're the reliable cookie you bring to occasions like a funeral, he explained.

Wolinsky started out exploring food in Israel and returning to the U.S. to attend the New England Culinary Institute. He developed an interest in French fine dining, interning at a Michelin star restaurant, Auberge du Lac, in England as a young cook. When he returned to New York, he continued in fine dining for awhile, then worked at a Korean American restaurant called The Good Fork in Brooklyn, where he started making dishes like potato gnocchi. As his career continued Wolinsky segued back into French and Italian fine dining. In 2014, he staged at the three-star Michelin restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy under Massimo Bottura.

"The common denominator," he said, "was fresh pasta. The more I played with it, the more I loved it."

Surprisingly, Wolinsky doesn't leave cooking behind at the restaurant. He still loves to cook at home for himself and his girlfriend.

"It's hard to eat and be depressed so I also cook at home." He also hosts Monday night dinners for the staff with non-Italian food. "Our last dinner was Israeli. We've done Asian. And I hosted Passover."

Of the various restaurants in the Urban Kitchen Group, cucina SORELLA is the "pasta" restaurant. But given what he calls the micro cultures in Kensington, Wolinsky designed the menu to have something for everybody--gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian. He explained that he changes something on the menu every three weeks, making decisions based what's in the farmers market truck he buys from.

So, that explains the origin of our dish.

He started with making the pasta. He already had a batch of dough mixed that one of his line chefs had been turning into ravioli. This dough, rich in eggs, is a house specialty and Wolinsky felt it might be too difficult for home cooks not all that experienced in making pasta to get right. Instead, our recipe below is a little more user friendly with fewer eggs (three whole eggs instead of nine yolks) and your success that much more guaranteed.

The noodles Wolinsky prefers for a seafood pasta like this are thin. He explained that they cook quickly in water and in the broth of the seafood component they better absorb the flavors.

When running the pasta through the machine, you'll want to get it as thin as possible. When Wolinsky did his final roll, you could actually see the grain of the wood counter through the sheet.

The long flat pasta stretched about three feet along the counter so Wolinsky cut it into several pieces. Then sprinkled them lightly with flour so when he folded each up there'd be no sticking.

Then he sliced through the folded piece of pasta to create long, thin noodles of tagliarini.

With the pasta made we went into the kitchen to create the sauce. It was ridiculously quick. So first put a pot of water to the boil. Then grab a pan and add the sliced sausage. Sauté the coins until just golden brown on both side. If they don't give off enough fat, add a little extra virgin olive oil, and then add the garlic. Just before the garlic starts to brown add the clams and quickly cook together before pouring the wine into the pan. Cover the the pan so the clams will steam open--it'll take just a couple of minutes. Once the clams open, add the pasta to the boiling water and the green garlic to the pan. The pasta should be cooked in less than a minute. Pull it out of the water and drop into the pan and toss, adding the fresh lemon juice. Taste and add salt if necessary. If the dish is too dry for you, add a little of the pasta water to the pan.

At that point, it'll be ready to plate. Pour the pasta mixture into a bowl and top with the bread crumbs.

Tagliarini with Hot Sausage and Clams
from Daniel Wolinsky of cucina SORELLA
(printable recipe)
Feeds about 4 people

1 pound fresh tagliarini (Any long noodle will work but we recommend fresh long noodles; recipe below.)
8 ounces or 2 spicy Italian sausage links pre-cooked and sliced into coins 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped1 pound Little Neck clams (Manilla also work.)
3/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon green garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh toasted bread crumbs

1. Put on a 8-quart pot of water to boil and season heavily with salt.
2. In a large sauté pan over medium/high heat sear the sausage till golden brown on both sides.
3. Add the garlic and right before it starts to color add the clams and toss together. Cook for 30 seconds.
4. Carefully pour the white wine into the pan and cover to steam the clams open, about 2 to 3 minutes.
5. When the clams open drop the pasta to cook and add the green garlic to the pan.
6. Toss in the pasta and squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. Season the dish to taste with salt. If you like the dish more brothy, add a few tablespoons of pasta water.
7. Plate and top the pasta with a healthy portion of bread crumbs. Enjoy!

Fresh Pasta Recipe
3 whole eggs
300 grams 00 flour
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1. In a Kitchen Aid stand mixer add the flour and on a low speed with a dough hook slowly pour in the eggs and olive oil.
2. Mix for about 10 minutes (Note you may need to add a touch of water if it's too dry.). After the dough has formed wrap tightly in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
3. Roll the dough using a pasta rolling machine to the desired thickness and shape. I recommend, longer thinner noodles.

Cucina SORELLA is located at 4055 Adams Ave. in San Diego.

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