Recipe: Crab and asparagus pasta from The Arthouse

  • Crab and asparagus pasta at The Arthouse in Hampden.
Crab and asparagus pasta at The Arthouse in Hampden. (Scott Serio / Patuxent Publishing )
October 01, 2014|By Kit Waskom Pollard | For The Baltimore Sun

At The Arthouse in Hampden, Chef Jordi Miller uses simple ingredients to create pizzas and pastas that are fresh, creative and delicious. Here, she makes the most of Maryland crabmeat and asparagus, combining them with fresh pappardelle and a mustardy cream sauce.

Instead of making your own pasta, you can substitute your favorite store-bought brand. But for adventurous home cooks, the paper-thin pappardelle will require a pasta roller. “Cheap ones start at around $20 and will suit your purposes,” says Miller. “They anchor onto your countertop with a clamp.”

Crab and Asparagus Pasta with Mustard Cream Sauce
Serves 6-8

Pasta:
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (plus an additional 4 to 6 cups for rolling the dough)
2 whole eggs
12 egg yolks
2-3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1. Place 3 ½ cups of flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center.
2. Add the eggs, yolks, 2 tablespoons milk and olive oil in the well. Keeping the wet ingredients in the well and using your fingertips, mix in a swirling motion.
3. Still using your fingers, slowly incorporate the flour into the wet ingredients until the dough appears dry and “piece-y.”
4. Knead until completely emulsified, adding another tablespoon of milk if necessary (Miller usually has to do this in the winter, when the air is drier).
5. Knead aggressively for 10 more minutes.
6. Let the dough rest at room temperature for one hour.
7. Cut your pasta dough ball into four or five pieces, and flatten them with your palms.
8. Dip each piece in the extra flour, and run it through the roller on the largest, or thickest, setting.
9. Fold it in half, and run it through on the thickest setting again. Repeat once more.
10. Set the dial one number thinner, dip the sheet in flour and roll again. Repeat until your pasta is a long, thin sheet and a uniform width. (Note: You can’t fold the sheet and run it through again on a thinner setting; the machine will shred your dough. When you fold, you must stick with the same setting.)
11. Dip the sheets in flour and cut into 1-foot sections. To make even noodles, Chef Miller stacks all the sheets and slices the noodles about ¾ of an inch thick.
12. Lay the noodles on a sheet tray covered with flour.

Troubleshooting note: If you get large holes and gaps in the middle of the sheets when rolling them, the dough hasn’t rested long enough. If the dough seems too soft, it hasn’t been kneaded enough. “The goal with the kneading,” says Miller, “is to form enough gluten that the dough springs back when you press on it with your finger.”

Cream sauce and final dish:

About 6 tablespoons salt for boiling pasta
1 yellow onion, julienned
1 shallot, julienned
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (or other cooking oil)
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
8 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard (more if you prefer more mustardy sauce)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (more if you prefer more mustardy sauce)
Salt, freshly grated nutmeg and pepper to taste
1 pound Maryland crabmeat
1 bunch Maryland asparagus,
shredded with a vegetable peeler

1. Fill a large stockpot with water for the pasta. Salt the water until it tastes like the ocean (about 6 tablespoons of salt), and set the pot over high heat to boil.
2. In another large pot over high heat, heat water to a rolling boil for the asparagus.
3. Meanwhile, place the onion and shallot in a heavy-bottomed, four- or five-quart pot with a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil. Cook the onion and shallot down, slowly, over medium-low heat. Be slow; they should be transparent, not too dark.
4. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes.
5. Add the heavy cream and, over medium heat, simmer until reduced down to about four "cups. At this point, the sauce should be thick and should generously coat a spoon.
6. Stir in the mustards and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to your taste.
7. Pick through the crabmeat, removing any shells you come across.
8. To blanch the asparagus, set a bowl of ice water next to the stove, where water should be boiling. Working in batches, toss handfuls of asparagus into the boiling water, then instantly remove them using tongs. Place them in the ice water to cool. They should instantly turn bright green.
9. Toss the crabmeat and asparagus in the sauce.
10. Toss the pasta into the boiling water and cook for about two to three minutes.
11. Reserve about ½ cup of starchy pasta water; drain the rest.
12. Combine the cream sauce, pasta and water and serve ASAP.

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