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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Asparagus Fusilli with Pork Balls in Mushroom Sauce

It really is amazing how versatile some foods are.  Take corn for example.  I read where 99% of everything produced (edible, non-edible) is in some way connected to corn.  A quick walk through the grocery store will show that corn is in many products as an ingredient, in packaging, and so much more.  Other vegetables appear in products that you would least expect.  Our kids gifted us with a very lovely basket filled with food products with asparagus as an ingredient over the Easter holiday.   Asparagus is one such vegetable that I would not have expected to find in a lot of food products yet surprisingly, Barrie's Asparagus in Cambridge, Ontario makes several products using asparagus. 

Last night, I decided to cook the asparagus fusilli that came in the gift basket.  This is an enriched pasta made from 100% durum semolina and fresh Ontario asparagus.  Fresh asparagus pasta would be quite easy to make if you have a pasta maker attachment for your Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  I wanted a rich, creamy sauce for the asparagus fusilli.  I started with fresh ground pork loin then built the dish from there.

browning the pork balls
When I make meatballs, the method used is determined by the meat.  If beef, I don't season the meat and the binder is milk.  That's it.  Ground pork is rather mild flavoured which is fine if cooking in a rich tomato based sauce long enough to absorb the flavour.  These meatballs were destined for a mushroom sauce, cooked over a shorter period of time so I lightly seasoned the ground pork with garlic pepper, mixed well with 2 eggs, then added dry bread crumbs.  I formed the meatballs with a meatball shaper then browned in heated olive oil in a ceramic coated skillet.  Once the meatballs were browned, I stirred in two cans of Campbell's condensed mushroom soup, a half can of milk and a half can of half & half.

pork balls in mushroom sauce
This is one of the very, very few mass produced condensed soups that I do buy.  The reason being, it is ideal as a quick sauce.  Homemade cream of mushroom soup is easy enough to make but cannot be home canned and it is next to impossible to keep enough on hand in the freezer. 

I brought the meatball and sauce mixture to a low boil then reduced the heat to a low simmer.  The low simmer allows the meatballs to finish cooking while absorbing flavour from the sauce.  It also reduces the sauce to a thicker, richer consistency.  The lactose in the milk and half & half caramelizes to give a richer flavour while the lactic acid in both keep the meatballs tender and juicy. 

asparagus fusilli with pork balls in mushroom sauce topped with sauteed mushrooms and asparagus and chopped fresh green onions and tomatoes
Local fresh asparagus will be in season here shortly.  I can't wait!  Asparagus is best lightly cooked (steamed, sautéed, grilled) until just tender (al dente) while retaining the beautiful bright green.  If overcooked asparagus takes on a drab olive colour with a mushy texture.  Dried asparagus is closer to a brown than a green so it did not surprise me that the asparagus fusilli while more of a drab olive colour dry, turned closer to tan when cooked.  Aside of the colour, there really isn't much asparagus flavour in the asparagus fusilli. 
Fusili is a nice thick pasta with lots of nooks to hold thick sauces, like the mushroom sauce used for this dish.  I topped the asparagus fusilli with the pork balls in mushroom sauce, sautéed fresh asparagus and sliced mushrooms, and chopped fresh green onions and tomatoes with just a light sprinkling of sesame seeds.  One of my favourite ways to serve any pasta is to include some type of chopped fresh vegetables on top.  Raw vegetables added this way add both an element of flavour and texture that pairs nicely with many pasta dishes.   It's a great way to add a bit of extra nutrition as well as eye appeal.  The asparagus fusilli with pork balls in mushroom sauce was a delightfully delicious and sinfully rich meal with the flavours blending nicely yet fairly low in fat. 

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