President Obama (Obama/Biden 2012!) turns 51 today. And while alas, Marilyn Monroe isn’t around to sing to him (that’s the dress she wore when she sang Happy BIrthday to President Kennedy), he can celebrate with this recipe. It’s a delicious adaptation of the dish First Lady Michelle Obama had when she ate at the wonderful Gramercy Tavern in January. It looks like a huge amount of work but it’s not that bad (especially if you cheat and use store-bought chicken stock like I did.)
Gramercy Tavern’s Spinach Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Garlic
Adapted from chef Michael Anthony by the Gilt Taste Kitchen
8 oz. spinach fettuccine (fresh if possible)
4 t. garlic oil (see below)
4 generous handfuls mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 – 12 cloves garlic confit (see below)
4 T. green garlic or scallions, shaved in thin rounds
1 cup basic mushroom stock (see below)
4 t. garlic puree (see below)
2 t. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 T. olive oil
8 cups spinach, loosely packed, stems removed
4 T. minced shallot
4 t. butter, cold, in chunks
2 t. grated parmesan, plus more for serving
Chopped fresh herbs (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, heat the garlic oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan until shimmering. Add mushrooms in one layer and sear without stirring. When the undersides are browned, turn and brown on all sides. Do this in batches if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.
Lower heat to medium, add garlic confit and green garlic and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add the mushroom stock and reduce by ¼, about 3 minutes over medium-high heat. Once sauce is reduced, add garlic puree and lemon juice and stir to combine. Turn off heat and reserve.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in another large pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add spinach and shallots and cook until spinach is completely wilted. Add a couple tablespoons water or stock if necessary to keep it moist while sautéing. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente, then strain.
While the pasta is cooking, reheat the mushroom sauce over medium heat and whisk in the butter to form a creamy sauce. Toss pasta, mushroom sauce, grated cheese and herbs (if using) until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Divide spinach between bowls, and divide pasta on top. Spoon any extra sauce over, and finish with a few ribbons of grated parmesan. Serve immediately.
Garlic Confit and Garlic Oil
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
Grapeseed or olive oil, to cover.
Put garlic cloves in a small sauce pan and cover with grapeseed or olive oil. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until garlic is soft. Store, covered and refrigerated, until ready to use, up to three days.
(Makes ½ cup)
½ c. peeled garlic cloves
¼ c. whole milk
Salt, to taste
Place garlic in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Strain and repeat four times. Return to pot and add milk, and water to cover if necessary. Simmer until fork tender, about a half hour. Cool slightly, transfer to a blender, and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate until needed, up to three days.
Simple Mushroom Stock
( Makes 1 quart)
4 c. sliced white button mushrooms
Water to cover
Salt and black pepper
Place mushrooms in small saucepan and cover with water. Add a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Simmer over low heat, half-covered, for an hour. Strain mushrooms out, taste and adjust for seasoning, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to one week.