Autumn is nigh upon us – and with it comes the changing of our eating habits from avocado salads to heartier, more, shall we say, rustic fare. Frankly, it cannot come quickly enough for us.
One place you’ll be likely to find us regularly pulling up a chair is Scott Conant’s classy new Flatiron Italian Fusco. The marquee New York chef, as you may well know, made a splash in 2002 with his NY Times 3-star-awarded L’Impero. He then became a bonafide hit with the Chelsea hotspot Scarpetta (for the record, he’s no longer involved). But 2017 is surely his year, as he also opened The Ponte in Los Angeles and Mora Italian in Phoenix.
But while Fusco, with its leather banquettes, glittering chandeliers and orchid-adorned bar, is a decidedly elegant affair, it’s vibe is palpably more laidback (to be sure, Conant’s Italian grandmother was the inspiration). It’s reflected in the menu, which is strong on both traditional (al pomodoro) and more surprising, creative pasta dishes – but all unpretentious and approachable.
Before scarf weather hits, we asked Chef Conant to give us a peek into what exactly goes into all that deliciousness of two of his most inventive dishes.
Tajarin Aglio e Olio, Clams & Bonito Flakes
1 pound fresh tajarin (or substitute dried tagliolini pasta)
Cooked clams (recipe below)
2 cups clam cooking liquid (recipe below)
Garlic & chili oil (recipe below)
Chopped parsley, as needed
Bonito flakes, as needed
Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package instructions.
While pasta is cooking, heat garlic & chili oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
Add clam cooking liquid to the sauté pan and deglaze.
When the pasta is just al dente, strain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and add both the pasta and the water to the sauté pan. Stir constantly to emulsify the oil and starch, about 3-4 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt.
Once emulsified, add the clams, stir to warm through–being careful not to overcook–toss in parsley, top with bonito flakes and serve immediately.
Garlic Chili Oil Base
10 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Slice garlic paper thin on Japanese mandolin.
Place garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes in 1-quart sauce pot.
Place sauce pot on low heat and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until garlic is sweet and tender and not bitter. Reserve.
5 lbs. clams (or cockles), washed
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 shallots, sliced thin
1 cup dry white wine
1 sprig thyme
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
Place olive oil in a large rondeau or oven and set over medium heat.
Add garlic and shallots. Sweat for 8 minutes, stirring and not allowing the garlic or shallots to burn or take on too much color.
Add thyme, crushed red pepper and clams.
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then deglaze with white wine.
Cover and steam until the clams open, about 5-7 minutes.
Strain and reserve liquid. You should have about 2 cups.
Remove the clams with their shells and reserve in olive oil until ready to use.
Black Truffle Risotto With Egg & Parmigiano
Serves 4 to 6
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (enough to coat the pan)
3 tbsp. shallots, small dice
1 ½ tsp. garlic, small dice
Crushed red pepper flakes, as needed
Kosher salt, as needed
2 ½ tbsp. butter, unsalted
1 ½ cups vialone nana rice
½ cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 ½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
½ cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Preserved black truffles (from Jaloon Specialty Foods), as needed
Fresh truffles for shaving, as needed
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat about 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-heat. Add the shallot, garlic, crushed red pepper and a pinch kosher salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute (Take the pan off the heat if the garlic starts to brown). Add 1 tablespoon of the butter, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is very tender, 5 minutes.
Add the rice, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to toast it lightly. Increase the heat to medium, add the wine, and cook until most of the wine is gone. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed and evaporated. Add another 1 cup of stock and increase the heat so that there are a fair amount of bubbles on the surface (this agitation helps release the starch as the rice cooks).
Add another 1 cup or so of stock and continue to cook, stirring, adding more stock as needed and stirring. To see if it’s time to add more liquid, drag the spoon through the rice; if the liquid doesn’t immediately fill in the space, it’s time to add more. With the third addition of broth, add the thyme. Continue cooking, adding broth as necessary, until the risotto looks creamy but the rice is still al dente, about 18 minutes.
Take the risotto off the heat. Add the remaining 1½ tablespoons butter, the cheese and the truffles and stir well. Stir in the egg yolks until well combined.
Divide risotto among plates, top with freshly shaved truffles, serve.