Mushroom Agnolotti in Beer Cream Sauce

9 06 2010

One of the perks of blogging through Foodbuzz is that I’m a member of their Tastemakers program. This basically means that I get to try out free samples of new products from time to time from some of their sponsors. I’m required to disclose that so here it is – a few weeks ago I got a coupon in the mail for a free package of Biutoni fresh pasta! I decided to take them up on their offer and picked up a package of the Wild Mushroom Agnolotti. Honestly, I didn’t even know these were “agnolotti” until I re-read the package in the photo. I’ve been calling them ravioli all along.

Beacuse I do so much of it at home, with my friends in Eating About Beer and when I’m out eating in restaurants, I thought I should focus a little more on beer and food pairings here. The idea is usually either match flavors or contrast them but the ways in which beer can help elevate a meal or a dish are really varied. The flavor and carbonation levels of a beer can play with food in your mouth in ways wine can only dream of. The variety of possibilities is really endless.

Keep an eye out for a special page coming soon on the site that will be devoted to beer pairing and breaking down how it works.


Almost every time I make an Italian pasta dish it starts off with chopped fresh garlic and red chli flakes in olive oil. Sauteed just until it’s giving off some good aroma but before it starts to brown.

This was a super simple dish – after the garlic was good and smelly, I threw in the chopped broccolini and tossed it around in the garlic.

While that was working, I boiled the ravioli. For being packaged prepared food from the store, this pasta is really great. Lots of good flavor, awesome fresh pasta texture and really no complaints from me. Even though I love to make my own pasta pretty regularly, it’s really nice sometimes to have it fresh and not have to do anything but whip up some sauce.

After the broccolini sauteed for a few minutes, I threw in some Rogue Dead Guy Ale, the most flavorful beer I had on hand. To that I added some milk that I had warmed up in the microwave so it wouldn’t curdle when when it hit the hot sauce. Simmered that for a few minutes, salted to taste and done. Grana Padano cheese (very similar to Parmigiano Reggiano but cheaper) grated in and then poured the sauce over the pasta.

This sauce was totally inspired by a dish I had at Marvin in Washington, DC. The dish was a Belgian-style seafood stew called waterzooi and the base of the stew was an amazing creamy beery sauce. It was incredible. If you live in the DC area or are ever visiting… beer and food culture is totally blowing up right now in DC and there’s a lot of pretty exciting stuff going on.

Another healthy dusting of the Grana and voila!

Dead Guy is an Oregonian take on a Maibock. Maibock is a German style that is according to BeerAdvocate “lighter in color than other Bock beers and often has a significant hop character with a noticeable alcohol around the same as a traditional Bock.” It’s a rosy amber color and has a nice hoppiness. I’m not big on super hoppy beers but every once in a while I do enjoy them – especially when I’m eating something a little bit spicy. The hoppiness of the beer also added a little bit of floral flavor to the sauce.


Pea Butter

5 06 2010

Now that it’s pea season, I thought I’d share my favorite way to use up lots of fresh peas. I’ve actually never tried this with frozen peas but I bet it would be pretty good with those too. It’s one of my absolute favorite things to spread on a nice piece of toast and it’s so simple to make.


1. Shuck your peas
2. Blanch them in well-salted water* for a minute or two until they’re softened but not mush
3. Shock the peas in a colander or strainer floating in a bath of ice water – this helps stop the cooking so they don’t get mushy and stay nice and bright green
4. Put the peas in a food processor with a nice fistful of pecorino cheese, some salt, pepper and olive oil. Puree.
5. Spread on toasted bread



*When you blanch vegetables there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

  • First – the water should be well-salted. If you taste your salted water it should taste almost sea-water-salty. Don’t worry about your veggies being too salty afterwards because you’re going to rinse most of it off when you shock them in the water bath. The extra salt in the water will really bring out the color in your vegetables – especially the green ones. They’ll be more bright green than you even thought was possible.
  • Second – the water should be at a rolling boil at all times. This means you’ll need to use a pot of water much larger than would seem necessary for the amount you’re blanching and you’ll almost always want to work in batches so you don’t cool the water down too much when you add your vegetables (it also helps to have them at room temperature when you do the blanching).


Pea Butter

Pecorino Romano (or another nice hard cheese)
Olive oil