from Chef Nick Anderer
For the suckling pig braise:
1 suckling pig ham (#5 total)
1.5 quarts chicken stock (or enough to almost cover the two hams)
1 white onion, cut into large pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
1 bulb fennel, cut into large pieces
5 sprigs thyme
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Season the pig aggressively with salt and keep refrigerated overnight.
- Sautee the onions, celery and fennel with olive oil in a sauce pan with a lid deep enough to fit the two hams (roughly 6 inches deep). Add chicken stock and thyme – bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper so that it is lightly seasoned (not too salty).
- Add the hams to the seasoned broth, cover, and place in a 350 degree oven for 1 and 1/2 hours or until the meat begins to barely pull away from the bone.
- Allow the meat and broth to cool down together for a half hour (or until the temperature is approachable)
- Gently pick apart the meat by hand with a pair of plastic gloves. Best to gently tear the meat by hand so that each muscle group separates at its natural seam, creating more attractive bites both for the eye and for the teeth.
- Strain the liquid and pour over the torn meat – at this point there may be more stock than necessary to cover the meat, so only use enough to cover and save the rest for a soup. The meat is best if stored overnight in the liquid so it has an opportunity to bathe in the braise and develop flavor.
For the Malfatti Pasta:
200g ’00’ flour
180g egg yolks
- Mix together all ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon. As it comes together, turn out onto a cutting board and knead by hand for 6 minutes (or place in kitchen aid with dough mixer and knead for 4 minutes on medium-high). Rest the dough for at least one hour, wrapped in plastic.
- With a rolling pin, roll out to 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Pass through pasta rolling machine (kitchen-aid) at the widest setting first. Fold and repeat at the widest setting. Continue this process for the next three settings, one notch at a time. Once past these three settings start passing through only once at the finer settings until the pasta has become thin enough to see your hand through the dough. This is usually the second to last setting (either 1 or 2 depending on the machine).
- Tear by hand into bite size squares and squeeze between fingers to create wrinkles – they can all be different sizes and wrinkled in different patterns, thus the name “malfatti” – “poorly made”.
- At this point they can be frozen on a sheet tray and portioned in zip lock bags for later use or they can be lightly dried at room temperature so that the wrinkles set (15 minutes) and then dropped into boiling water for the sauce
(I prefer the freezing method. The long process of making this dish is easier if broken into manageable sections – ie one day make the braise, one day make the pasta and freeze it – the braise gets better as it sits in the liquid and the pasta does not suffer from freezing so long as it is sealed in some sort of air tight container like a zip lock bag – but the pasta must first be frozen on a sheet tray before being bagged so that the pieces don’t stick together).
For the preparation of the dish (serves 4 generous appetizer portions):
2 cups of suckling pig (meat and congealed braising liquid together)
32 pieces malfatti pasta
1/2 cup veal stock
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
4 Tablespoons grated grana padano cheese
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 Tablespoons butter
Small handful arugula
- In a 12 inch sauté pan (or shallow sauce pan) add the suckling pig/braise liquid and veal stock. Bring to boil and reduce by half. Add butter and stir to emulsify.
- Drop malfatti pasta into abundantly salted boiling water for 1 minute. Remove pasta and add to the sauce along with a small splash of the pasta water. Simmer in sauce for 1 minute or until the sauce begins to adhere to the malfatti.
- Add lemon juice, 2 Tablespoons of the cheese, olive oil and parsley.
- Stir to combine, serve immediately and top with arugula and the remaining 2 Tablespoons of cheese.