In this edition of Tasting Tucson, the team’s back in Midtown trying a spicy surf and turf pasta.

The kitchen staff crank up the ‘fire’ in Dante’s Fire on Grant and Tucson. Chef and owner Ken Foy said his Pappardelle Diablo is a great fusion of his childhood roots and his culinary inspirations in Southern Arizona.

Foy said he first learned this recipe working the kitchen at the Tucson Country Club.

“(It was) many, many moons ago,” Foy said. “When I got there, I inherited a dish that I could not take off the menu…”

“For funsies,” Foy said, “when I was writing the menu for this restaurant, I was like, ‘You know what? We’re going to do that dish, but we’re going to finally do it right.'”

And once again, Foy said, he has an entree he can’t take off the menu. Good Morning Tucson asked Foy about the ‘surf’ and ‘turf’ in his pasta dish.

“I tried to connect both my new Tucson roots and my East Coast route. So, instead of regular meat or sausage, we’re using chorizo because that’s what we’re known for here.”

As for the seafood element, Foy said: “I’m using crab meat because that’s part of my east coast, Chesapeake Bay heritage. The melding of the two is what makes it really special.”

“Think more of like a gumbo where those those Creole influences are they’re just sometimes they’re meant to be.”

We followed Foy through the process. The dish starts with a base sauce of garlic, parsley and olive oil. Then, Foy threw in the chorizo sausage, tomatoes, roasted red peppers and shallots.

Next, Foy broke out a portion of the handmade pasta made at Dante’s Fire the pappardelle noodles that give the dish its name. “We prefer a long medium pasta than a shaped or macaroni,” Foy said. “You want something that’s going to get really coated by that sauce.”

Time to add a little more fire to the mix: Foy pours in a helping of vodka to help deglaze the elements in the pan.

He then added chicken stock, cream and some of Chef Ken’s not-so-secret red spice mix.

“It’s a mixture of Cajun seasoning, paprika, and cayenne pepper,” Foy said.

“We found, early on, if we went with just Cajun seasoning, it inadvertently has salt already added to it. So we couldn’t get the level of spice, we wanted with just the Cajun seasoning or be too salty. So we found other ways to get to our spice level without the sodium being overwhelming.”

With the pasta almost ‘al dente’ and the protein/sauce mix reduced in half, Foy saved some of the pasta’s starchy water and put that in with the noodles in the main pan.

The last piece the ‘surf’ component of crab meat goes on top of the final plate, with a serving of shredded Parmesan cheese, scallions and basil.

“If we put in the crab meat too early, it shreds,” Foy said. “Nobody knows it’s there. You have to put it in the last second so people get those big chunks of crab.”