Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pasta with tuna confit and beans

We followed the recipe for tuna confit from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook. We began by slicing a one-pound piece of tuna into four pieces and liberally salting everything. We placed it in a medium mixing bowl with about half a head of garlic (crushed but not peeled), one or two fresh bay leaves, a small hot red pepper, some whole pepper corns, a handful of fennel seed, and a few sprigs of thyme. We covered everything in olive oil (about 2.5 cups — Alice says 3), covered the bowl with saran wrap, and refrigerated the fish overnight.

The next day, we transferred everything to a pot, and warmed it on medium-low. The fish should cook ten to fifteen minutes, until it is don't on the outside but still a little pink in the middle. (Actually, we cooked it through, but Alice prefers it pink in the middle, and so do we.)

Meanwhile, we prepared a pound each of green beans and fresh cranberry beans. Following the instructions, we simmered the shelled cranberry beans for half an hour in lightly salted water with a sprig of thyme. This got the beans mushier than we like — next time we'll do twenty minutes. Alice likes her green beans parboiled two minutes, but we like them softer: between six and eight. We also boiled a pot of water for pasta: whole wheat penne from Barilla.

After draining everything, and reserving the oil (passing it through a sieve), we minced a few scallions (Alice wants shallots) and whisked in a liberal dose of the flavored oil, and then mixed this with the beans and pasta. We should at this point have flaked the tuna into the pasta as well, but instead we decided to serve the tuna in steaks. It was very good, although a bit too salty for steaks, and had a taste of the very best canned tuna you've ever had. Grated cheese for the pasta, of course, and white wine.

Of course, it was enough food for at least four as the main course.

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