The Virginia in the title refers to the Virginia ham Patrick O'Connell uses in the recipe. You could substitute any country ham or 1/2 pound of smoked ham.
Fast Weekday Pastas
2 pounds dried fettuccine
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 pound country ham, thinly sliced and cut into thin strips
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 pounds Swiss chard, stems reserved for another use, leaves cut into 1-inch
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 large shallots, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (3 ounces)
3 tablespoons snipped chives
How to Make It
Cook the fettuccine in a large stockpot of boiling salted water until al dente.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add in the country ham, stirring to separate the strips; add the nutmeg.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter in the olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the Swiss chard leaves by the handful and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Drain the fettuccine and return it to the pot. Add the ham, cream, Swiss chard and Parmesan cheese and toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large warmed bowl. Sprinkle with the chives and serve at once.
A mostly dry, floral and spicy wine, such as Gewürztraminer, would provide the contrast this rich dish needs.
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