Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pastina for the Baby...Italian Grandma Food

I am not promoting Barilla, but Pastini can be hard to find in the grocery store, if your grocer carried Barilla, ask him to order you some, you will want to have it around.

I had the good fortune of getting sick in Sicily. Seriously.

I was in Sicily to learn the real food of the region. I had been matched with a host family on a small farm who wanted to share the old ways. The previous two weeks in Rome I had been drinking and eating up a storm and not sleeping as much as I might. The three train, car commute had knocked the last bit of resistance out of me. I arrived with a cold. My Italian was very primitive but my symptoms were obvious. The grandmother of the household immediately put me to bed with tissues and tea and eventually brought me one of the most healing, delicious meals I had ever eaten, pastina for the sick baby (me). This was the ultimate in Italian Grandma comfort food. I ate every bite, drank the strong wine and got good night's sleep. The next day i awoke restored and ready to take on the artichokes.

I pushed for my host to make the dish a second time so I could observe and she laughingly complied. To her, this was nothing special, trust me...it is seriously delicious, even when you feel good.

1/2 cup Pastina
2 cloves of garlic minced
3 cups of strong chicken stock ( I am pretty sure it came warm from a chicken as well)
1 egg for poaching (In Sicily it came warm from the chicken, but if you have no chickens, you can get some at a store)
Freshly ground pepper
11 anchovies

In a touch of olive oil saute the garlic until it begins to soften Put about a cup of stock in the sauce pan with the garlic and bring to a boil, add pastina, and reduce heat. Think of this as a very fast cooking risotto, stir pretty consistently. Add more stock as needed. In a few minutes the pasta will begin to be tender. Make a well in the center and fill with some chicken stock. Crack and egg in the center and lay the anchovies over the pastina and cover pastina for two minutes so the egg can poach. Slide into a bowl keeping the egg intact if possible and top with remaining hot stock.

Have with a glass of rustic red and feel better.

1 comment:

Frank said...

My grandma used to make me something like this when I was a sick kid about a million years ago. When I started to get better I got the rest of the pastina with meatballs. I frigging love meatballs.