The other week when Ed and I stopped by Del Posto to check out their new gluten-free pasta options, I managed to sneak back into the kitchen afterwards to peep a quick look at how chef Matt Abdoo puts together what is quite possibly my favorite pasta dish on the menu (it's hard to choose).
The Orecchiette with Lamb Sausage starts with housemade 100% lamb merguez-style sausage that gets heavily browned in a skillet before being deglazed with chicken stock. Fresh orecchiette is added, the dish is plated, then topped with carrots cooked in their own juice and flavored with a hint of tangerine and olive oils. It's all very simple, with just a few ingredients, only a few steps in the process. But like many of Italy's finest foods, it's about the quality of the individual ingredients and the way in which they complement each other, building into more than a sum of their parts.
Without the carrot topping, the pasta dish itself would still be decent, but it's two-dimensional—all savory, meaty flavors and spice. The intensely sweet carrots and lightly bitter oils bring the third and fourth dimension to the plate. They doesn't just add to the plate, they multiply what was already there, making the sauce seem even more intensely savory, the spices even more balanced.
It's great stuff, easily worth the cost of the $39 four-course lunch menu, and a worthy choice in their pricier $115 dinner menu.
Check out the whole process in the slideshow above.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.