Monday, January 16, 2006

Long Time Gone

I was devastated when I heard that Fuzio Universal Pasta closed it's Dupont Circle location a few years back. I loved this chain restaurant while in grad school and the early year's of my career when a night out at Fuzio yielded a bill of about $25 for wine, entree and dessert vs the same at twice the price somewhere else. Often I would find myself sitting at the 'bar' overlooking the kitchen. The restaurant was smallish, but always busy. I have to assume that they just couldn't pay the high rent for that location, it's really too bad because it was a fun place to go with a group of people, where everyone in the group was likely to find something on their small menu that they would like, from veggie to meat eaters, most everyone was always pleased.

That said, I often would get the exact same thing when I went to Fuzio. 90% of the time I would order their one of their specialties, Fuzio Firecracker Pork Fusilli.

Corkscrew pasta with tender ginger-braised pork, firecracker-hot habanero pesto and sour cream-give it a stir to mingle heat and flavors together.

Well, since the restaurant closed, I have been thinking about this dish. I had tried internet searches yielding nothing. This past week I was ready to try to recreate the dish even if I had nothing to go on. I tried a few more variations of the google search and got a few ideas, includingon saying to be the exact recipe...I pulled them all together to see what I could come up with.

To start, the recipes called for Pork Tenderloin as the meat cut of choice. Great! Except the two stores I went to either 1) didn't have it or 2) had it in restaurant size $50 quantities! Not on my budget! So I went with a butt roast. We'll see how it works out....let's move on, I'll be back to the meat.

The meat needs to be marinaded for 24 hours. The marinade I put together in the food processor was: 9 cloves of garlic, about a 5 inch piece of ginger, sliced up, 1 full bunch of cilantro, with the root end removed, 1 bunch of green onions (from the tip up about three inches), 1/2 a regular onion. Give that a whirl for a few seconds until it comes together. Then add 12 oz of pineapple juice and 6 oz of soy sauce. I used "lite" soy sauce. Whirl this all together and prepare the meat.

As I said previously, I used a butt roast. There is a lot of fat and connective tissue in this meat. It is really important that the final product be really tender. To help this process along, I chopped the meat into large chunks and then cleaned it up by removing some of the fat and as much of the connective tissue as possible. I have to say, this process (making the marinade and fixing the meat) took an hour. I really will try to get a pork tenderloin next time.

Once the meat is prepped, but it in a zip top bag placed inside a large bowl (to catch any spills or leaks), then pour in the marinade. Zip up and place in the ice box for 24 hours.

Long story short, I didn't marinade for 24 hours, more like 18 hours. Don't tell the food police! See, when I went to the store earlier in the day to get everything, I did...except the pork. *DUMBASS*

The dish is supposed to take 2 hours of cooking time. So two hours before you are ready for dinner, pre-heat oven to 300, get a large pan out and on the stove over high heat with a thin layer of oil. Remove the meat from the marinade--do not discard the marinade--sear the meat on all sides in the pan. Do this in steps if you need, don't over crowd the pan. If you have to do this in batches, during the final side of the final batch, pour in the reserved (and strained) marinde. Bring all to a high simmer, cover and throw into the oven, check in and hour and turn meat!

Prior to serving, prepare your Habanero Pesto. To start, find the peppers. I don't know if I have Scotch Bonnets, Hungarian Wax or Habanero peppers. They all look pretty similiar in photos on the web and the Giant only had them listed as "hot" peppers, so I don't know. I grabbed some Jalapenos, just in case.

In the food processor, add a full bunch of cilantro, 2 Habanero peppers and 2 Jalapenos, a small handful of pine nuts and parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt, grind of pepper...whirl until it just comes together. Start drizzling in olive oil, until you get the desired consistency.

Serve the Ginger-Braised Pork with a shapely pasta and top with a dollop of the pesto and sour cream. Swirl it all around in a bowl to combine flavors and enjoy!



ScottE. said...

Once I "file" this recipe on the links page it will be "Ginger-Braised Pork with Spicy Pesto," just in case any Fuzio thugs are waiting with a tire iron to knock my knee caps for "copyright" issues.

Chilefire said...

I know how you feel about not being able to find a good pork loin, I had a terrible time finding a cut of meat this weekend - In fact I finally just gave up. I am officially looking for a good butcher! I am going to post this question on my blog as well. does anyone have a good butcher? the old fashioned kind, that you can call a day ahead, order a particular cut perhaps even an unusual one? and go in and pick up? I would love to know where they are. I have done this at Whole Foods (which is too expensive) with mixed results - some people behind the counter clearly don't want to be bothered, and have told me they don't do it, while others have been very helpful, but after I am turned away once... I don't waste time going back.

Lady Brandenburg said...

How did it taste? Like Fuzio's? God I miss that. Also, what pesto did you use? Did you make it? Buy it?

I get pork tenderloin all the time, but I cheat and get the already-marinaded Hormel tenderloins. They are expensive, but we get two meals out of them - I love the black pepper one.

ScottE. said...

It tasted pretty spot on!

I made the habanero pesto.

Those marinated pork loins were the only ones at the one store. Not what I was looking for! The pork butt was very good and became extra tender, so it was fine, just a bit of work going into it.

Lady Brandenburg said...

BTW, I made my Uncle Jay's shrimp skewers last night - YUMMMMMM. Over jasmine rice with steamed broccoli on the side - heaven. I think it's originally a Williams and Sonoma recipe, you have it as "Shrimp Skewers" in your quick links...

(which right now aren't working very well, all the shrimp recipes go to Orange Shrimp - there are gremlins in the blogoshere!!)

Dancer in DC said...

It was very good, and I'd say about 85% tasting like the real deal (perhaps the cut of meat had something to do with it). But the smell when it first went in my mouth was exactly spot-on. I was so sad to lose Fuzio, and this was a nice memory to bring back.

But I should warn that it's killer on those with sensitive tummies, ulcers, or acid reflux (raises hand).

Lady Brandenburg said...

Just looked at their website - the nearest one is in Arundel Mills 59 minutes from Casa de Brandenburg and only 40 minutes from Casa de ScottE and Dancer. Hmmm... road trip!?

(PS, is that where we Queer Eyed Lord Brandenburg? Arundel Mills outlets? Or was that another outlet?)

Stef said...

3 phrases in this post that cracked me up:

"butt roast" -- giggle, hilarious!
"connective tissue" -- eww, gross.
"shapely pasta" -- mmmm, sexy!


KOB said...

I got hungry reading this.

kat said...

FYI - I went to the Arundel Mills location about a month, month and a half back specifically for the firecracker pork, but it had sadly closed :(

ScottE. said...

KOB-welcome! KAT-thanks for the notice that the location has closed! That would suck to go there for one thing only and to have it gone.

Reminds me of National Lampoon's Vacation..."What if you went to Florida and it was closed?"

Good times.

Had the leftovers last night. Really yum. This was a bit time consuming, but not everthing can or should be 30 minute meals. Slow food can be sooo rewarding!

When I have some more time, I'll go back and write up the recipe in a more user friendly format for those less narratively inclined.

Lady B: I intended to fix those links last night, but I was distracted by job hunting! Perhaps tonight.

Chilefire: I feel your best bet might be creating a relationship with the guys at Eastern Market. The product is affordable, super fresh and when not horribly busy, the guys are really nice! I have gone to the butchers are my GIANT and they were able to help me one time in particular, but they are generally to unhappy to spend anytime with a customer! And don't even ask about the time I went to the seafood counter and asked for 1/2 pound of shrimp and I got shit for it!!!!! How dare they question my needs when I'm shopping. I'm not going to buy a pound of shrimp if I don't intend on using a pound of shrimp. Oh, tangent, sorry folks....

DC Food Blog said...

Totally miss Fuzio Universal Pasta. you're right on when you say it wasa great place for getting a cheap and decent pasta meal (drink and appetizer included). I was so jealous of J when I heard he has not only met the glowing goddess that is stef but then met the two of you as well.

Stef said...

Hee hee - Hi T! I think we've all promised that the whole gang (including Brunette) will get together live and in person very soon! I better save up lots of WW Flex Points for it! :-)

Tonya said...

Hey there. I came across your blog entry because I was LOOKING for a fuzio firecracker pasta recipe. I'm lucky that I live in the San Francisco Area and there are still 3 right around here.. but I wanted to make it at home.

Thanks for the recipe!

steponme said...

thanks for the recipe! i CRAVE this dish sometimes.

good news for those in the arundel mills area: the restaurant that replaced Fuzio actually STILL SERVES THE FIRECRACKER PORK FUSILLI! i believe the place is called "Blue Star Grill" and the dish tastes just as good as Fuzio's did.

ScottE. said...

Oh, that's great news!

cocuddehy said...

So glad to see this recipe -- I'm in Sacramento and a restaurant here called Paesano's makes this dish. Absolutely one of my all-time favorite meals anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Hi Scott,

I absolutely love this dish. We have a Fuzio's here in Brentwood, but I would love to have this dish at home. How much pork did you use? By the way, you can get Pork tenderloin at a very reasonable price at Costco. Do you have one near you?

ScottE. said...

Hi Anon. I think I used a 3lb roast the last time I made this.