ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Smoked Oyster Linguini Recipe

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EATING DANGEROUSLY

Smoked Oyster Linguini
Author: Living Dangerously
Duration: 60 minutes
Average Cost: $5.50 US
Serves: 2- 4

I've had a love affair with smoked oysters since the first time I packed them in a bag and went to the field*. They're so easy to eat. Full of good fat and protein. They're just sort of the perfect food. But other than eat them out of a can or put them on crackers, what do you do with them? Well, while standing in the smoked oyster aisle at our local grocers the other day, I had a flash of brilliance. Sure, Wilbur and Orville flashed and got flight. Henry Ford flashed and got the assembly line. Steve Jobs flashed and got Apple. I flash and get a canned cephalopod pasta. I'll take what I can get, I suppose.
Plus, you can't beat the price. A package of pasta is 2 bucks.  A can of oysters is 2 bucks. A can of diced tomatoes is a buck. And the other ingredients barely add up to fifty cents. And this to feed four people.

Next was what kind of pasta. Small or large. Shelled or straight. Thin or wide. I use rigatoni for my Lamb Merguez Rigatoni Recipe. I use squid ink pasta for my vegetarian squid ink pasta recipe, the pasta imparting the taste of the sea without any actual protein. I also use oricchiette for my Orecchiette with Shrimp, Pancetta and Fresno Chiles recipe. Well, it's not really my recipe, but I make it enough it feels like it's mine. (Sorry Chef Geoffrey Zakarian) There are so many choices. I decided however that I wanted to go classic. I used linguini. Not only, is it my wife's favorite, but it will also stand up well for coating of the sauce I'm going to make, much like in my recipe for Smoked Salmon Linguini.

About the sauce. White or red? I can really see a smoked oyster lemon cream sauce working well with this. For those who aren't afraid of a caloric avalanche, they could try this. But I'm still watching calories, so I deferred to a simple but elegant ragu. A sliced shallot, minced carrot, a can of diced tomatoes**, a couple cloves of garlic, a little red wine, oregano, and maybe some fennel. Salt and pepper to taste, but be careful about the salt. Look at the sodium in the can of tomatoes. You might have enough already. Plus, if you're adding cheese at the end, cheese has its own inherent saltiness, especially Parmesan. Simmer the ragu for about 40 minutes, then add the oysters in their oil*** and simmer for another ten. If you put them in too early, they'll end up like smokey little raisins.

Meanwhile, chop up some scallions, fresh basil. and some sweet peppers. I'll also add a couple of tiny yellow sunburst tomatoes from my garden for color. These ingredients are the crunch and sweetness to offset the smokiness of the ragu.

Cook the pasta and drain per instructions. At this stage, I put the fresh ingredients in. If I put them in any sooner, they'll get cooked and I want them floral and crunchy. Stir in your pasta and serve. Note, if you use a full box of pasta, it will feed four people but the sauce will be a little light. I made this for two people and only used half a box, then offset the food portion with a healthy salad.
When you serve it, top with your favorite cheese and maybe a basil flower or two. In addition to shredded Parmesan, I added a tbs of low fat sour cream to the top and spread it through the ragu as I ate. I found this to be a bright counterpart to the smokiness of the oysters.

Sure beats canned rations.

One more thing. I just remembered this. When I was in Papua New Guinea in the early 1990s, I was staying in one of the embassy's apartments. For transients, many folks would come and go. One guy who was traveling through always made his own food. At the time I thought he was crazy, but then my pallet was still on fried chicken and garlic bread. What this guy did-- I wish I could remember his name cause I can still see his face-- was make a simple ragu with diced tomatoes and sardines and throw them over spaghetti. He did this every night, getting the sardines from the local sardine plant. I never tried them, but now I wished I had. I remember at the end he topped it with hot sauce. I bet it's good. Makes you think that any canned fish, cephalopods or crustaceans can be used for a ragu di mare.

 INGREDIENTS

1 can smoked oysters
1 box linguini
1 can diced tomatoes
1 shallot ****
3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
several basil leaves (finely chopped)
one smallish carrot (minced)
half a cup of red wine (half for you and half for the ragu)
1 tbs oregano
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 small sweet peppers (roughly chopped)
3 scallions (finely chop whites only)
2 tbs Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste (you probably won't need pepper)
2 tbs low fat sour cream (optional)

*When a military person says 'field' he/she means war games and training in some dank, dusty, uninhabited spot where they eat canned rations, sleep in tents, and share their misery with others until it's time to go back to the world. While stationed at Fort Carson in the 80s, I averaged 260 days a yea
r in the field.)
**Why canned tomatoes instead of fresh? Although the canning process destroys some of the vitamin C and fiber, canned tomatoes (as opposed to fresh) are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene, shown to help lower the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and macular degeneration (poor eyesight as you get older). (Source: Food Network)

***You'll also want to watch the sodium levels in this as well.

****Remember not to cut the shallot like you would an onion for a BBQ. After you trim the ends, cut the shallot in half long ways, then thinly slice each piece from stem to stern. Should come out looking like slivers. Then dice finely.

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