Thursday, February 11, 2016

American Fusilli with Spinach, Kitten, and Asiago Cheese

American Fusilli with Spinach, Kitten, and Asiago Cheese


     Hello America! This is an old family recipe that became a staple in my childhood and helped our family get through the lean times on the mean streets of New Canaan, Connecticut. We had two black kids in our high school, but we did what we could and I believe ultimately grew closer as a family. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


1 pound American fusilli pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
4 to 6 kittens (depending on size)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (9-ounce) bag fresh spinach, roughly chopped
8 ounces (1/2 pint) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup (about 3 1/2-ounces) grated Asiago
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


    First a couple of words about American fusilli: It is not Italian.

    Now, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat keeping in mind the fact that although Preparation rhymes with Reparation this should not be a source of anxiety for you. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Special note: remove 1/4 of the pasta at three minutes for presentation purposes that I will go into later. Drain pasta reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
    Skin and cut the kittens into four inch strips. Save the heads. Meanwhile, warm olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and kitten strips and cook until fragrant, about six minutes. 
      A note on procuring the kittens: It is always best if you can find kittens that have recently been adopted by a poorer family. This gives them time to marinate in the misguided love that caused them to be adopted in the first place. Also, the shock of being clubbed and torn from the hands of some shrieking child will set the marbling in the kitten meat in a way I have never been able to duplicate using other methods.
     Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook until the spinach wilts, and by wilts I mean surrenders completely to the pressures of what is good and right; about 2 more minutes. Add the cooked pasta and toss. Add the cheeses, salt, pepper, and the pasta cooking liquid and stir to combine.


     As I mentioned earlier, this is where the under-cooked American fusilli that was set aside comes into play. American fusilli has a firmer character than the Italian variety, for obvious reasons, and is more amenable to decorative manipulation. Take the severed kitten heads (one per serving) and place them on a marble cutting board. With the firm but pliable American fusilli begin making a corkscrewing motion through the right eye of one of the kittens and, using the back of the kitten's skull as a guiding ballast, continue until it emerges from the left eye. There should be enough American fusilli protruding from each of the kitten's eyes for a cherry tomato to be decoratively screwed onto each end. Place one decorated kitten's head onto each dish.

    Watch your guest's mouth's water ravenously as you have your maid (who you should have a talk to after the meal; you know she has been stealing; when will these people learn; right?!) cart this fantastic dish out to your Ethan Allen large rustic dining table. 

    You will be the talk of the town, and that is all that really matters.


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