Farfalle con Salmone Affumicato (o Fresco) e Panna
Bob's Farfalle con Salmone Affumicato (o Fresco) e Panna Recipe
When I was growing up, we never ate cream sauces in my house, which isn’t surprising since my dad and my mother’s parents immigrated from southern “red-sauce” Italy. It wasn’t until my first trip to northern Italy that I discovered you could eat pasta without tomatoes. It was there that I first had salmon pasta, a dish that isn’t native to Italy since there’s not a salmon to be found in the waters surrounding this peninsula. While I’m certain my sweet and amiable dad wouldn’t have much liked a white sauce, I enjoyed it very much and will be sharing two versions with you.
Both recipes use a basic cream sauce to which I’ve added salmon (fresh or smoked) and a couple of other ingredients. This is a versatile recipe; for example, in the first one you can do everything as directed but not add the salmon. Or, in the second one, you can add your own choice of vegetable, keeping in mind that some might need to be precooked.
Smoked salmon can be expensive, but I found a more affordable product in my local grocery. It’s produced by Spence & Company out of Massachusetts. The product is “smoked salmon trim” and appears to be the pieces left over after the salmon filet is cut down into nice, tidy slices.
The platter you see in the photos came into my possession during one of my trips to Alaska to fish for sockeye and king salmon back in the 90’s. A brewery in downtown Anchorage was celebrating the start of the tourist season by displaying banners inside and outside the restaurant that featured the alliterative phrase “Symphony of Salmon.” All meals were served on these platters and I asked if I could buy one. I suppose this wasn’t the usual request, but the startled waitress consulted with her startled manager who said, “Sure, why not?” I love Alaska.
8 oz farfalle (DeCecco or Barillo brand)
2 T butter, unsalted
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T shallots, chopped
6 oz smoked salmon (or 8 oz fresh salmon), cut into small slivers about the same size as the pasta
¼ c brandy (or rum, whiskey or cognac)
½ c heavy whipping cream
1/3 c imported parmesan, freshly grated plus extra for the table
1 T (heaping) fresh parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnishing
salt and pepper
Note: You can reserve a cup of the pasta water in case your sauce becomes too thick and needs to be thinned.
Place a large pot of water over high heat. When it’s boiling add salt and bring back to a boil, then add the farfalle, and stir. After about 10 minutes begin the cream sauce by heating the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a skillet that will later hold the pasta. Add the shallots and cook until they’re soft.
If using smoked salmon, which requires no cooking, add only 4-5 slivers to the skillet and cook just until it starts to change color. (If using fresh salmon, add all of it to the skillet and cook just until it starts to change color.) Increase the heat to high, add the brandy and let it boil until it is nearly cooked away. Add the cream. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes. If using smoked salmon season the sauce to taste with pepper. (Smoked salmon is often salty so we won’t add salt. If using fresh salmon season it with salt and pepper.)
If the pasta isn’t done yet, turn the heat off under the skillet. When the pasta is almost al dente, drain and add it to the skillet. Turn the heat up to medium-high and toss the pasta vigorously in the sauce and, if using smoked salmon, add the remainder of it here. Add the cheese in small amounts and toss each time. Add the parsley and toss. Continue to toss the pasta until all of the sauce is clinging to the pasta. The dish shouldn’t be saucy. Garnish with parsley before serving. Now you’re ready to eat.