The other day I was browsing the dairy section of my local grocery store and came across a container of crème fraiche. Being the foodie that I am, I’ve tried crème fraiche in many restaurant dishes and seen it referenced a lot on cooking shows. But I’ve never actually used it myself. Crème fraiche is an ingredient widely used on the Food Network but most home cooks may not be as familiar with it. Originally a French product, it can be found in specialty food stores and some regular grocery stores in the US and other countries. It is a soured cream with a butterfat content of around 30%. It’s made in a process similar to sour cream and if you can’t find it, you can substitute full fat sour cream. It has a thicker consistency than sour cream with a rich, smooth texture. One reason why chefs commonly use crème fraiche is because it doesn’t curdle when heating. This makes it great for sauces such as the one in this recipe.
After purchasing the crème fraiche, I decided that the best way to showcase it would be in a pasta dish. The velvety texture makes a lovely sauce that coats each strand of pasta. After a quick stop at my local fish store to pick up some lobsters, I had all the ingredients in hand to make a gourmet meal at home. The combination of the creamy pasta with the sweet fresh corn, lobster and salty pancetta made my husband a happy camper when he came home from work and saw what I had made for dinner. If you can’t find crème fraiche, this recipe will work with sour cream or cream cheese. However, be careful if using a low-fat version- don’t let the sauce come to a boil after adding it as it may curdle.
For those South Park fans out there, there’s a hilarious episode entitled “Crème Fraiche,” recommended to me by my culinary friend Mariya. It’s especially funny if you watch a lot of Food Network!
- 3 ears corn, shucked (about 2 cups kernels)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta, small diced
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
- ½ cup crème fraiche
- 1 cup cooked, diced lobster meat
- ¼ cup chopped chives plus extra for garnish
- 1 pound fresh pappardelle pasta
- ¼ cup grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the corn and cook until slightly softened, 3-4 minutes. Transfer the corn to a cutting board and when it cools, cut the kernels off. Bring the water back to a boil so that it will be ready when you’re ready to drop the pasta in.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Add the shallot and garlic to the drippings in the pan and cook 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the corn and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to high and add the wine. Cook until liquid is reduced, 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and cook until partially reduced, 5-6 minutes more. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the crème fraiche, lobster and chives. Cook another minute or two until lobster is heated through.
- Cook the pappardelle in the boiling water according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce along with the cheese and the cooked pancetta. Toss all of the ingredients together and cook another 2-3 minutes to meld all of the flavors. Add some of the reserved pasta water as needed to thin the sauce to desired consistency. Season the dish with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour into a serving dish and garnish with reserved chives. Serve immediately.