Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shells with Sausage, Beans, and Mascarpone, take one

This week's new ingredient is mascarpone.  Mascarpone is a dessert cheese I've seen used a number of times on competition cooking shows, but had never seen in person.  It was a pain in the butt to find at Meijer, which is why I didn't write this post last week.  Its texture is very creamy, almost frosting-like, and it tastes something close to cream cheese, but more bland.  The cheese itself originated in Italy, first appearing around the 17th century.  The name comes from the word mascara, which is a dairy product made from the whey of another type of cheese.  The most common dish it's used in is called Tiramisu, an Italian cake.  In the dish I made last night, it was used as a component in the sauce, but it can be used raw with fruit and bread.

Another interesting tidbit is that most people pronounce it "marscapone" rather than "mascarpone".  I did so myself until I saw the spelling of it; apparently a lot of tv folk mispronounce it.  Shame on them.

This recipe, especially in comparison to the Savory Beef bowl recipe, is pleasantly simple.  The first thing to be cooked was the pasta.  Normally I don't care for shell pasta (it's difficult to grab with a fork), but the original recipe called for a small type of pasta, and small shell is the only thing at my grocery store that fits that description. 

Next was to cook turkey sausage, removed from casings, on a skillet with onion.  Unwrapping the turkey sausage from the casing was an interesting challenge; the result from the insides was remenicint of ground turkey, while the thing in my hand looked like a broken condom. 

The next ingredients were cannellini beans and oregano.  Cannellini beans are also known as white kidney beans, and have a nutty flavor.  Once the oregano started to cook, the dish became pleasantly fragrant.   Reserved pasta water and the mascarpone were added to create a sauce, and the pasta was added to the dish.

The result was good looking, but bland.  Damnit, turkey!
The most flavorful part of the dish was the garnish of oregano, which I regretted eating afterwards.  Lesson learned.  Despite my bland success with this dish this week, I intend to try again next week with spicy turkey sausage.  (According to my resources, this is more flavorful than spicy.)

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