So I’m back from Holland and recovering from the trip, but still pretty freaking tired and nowhere near done uploading and organizing all the pictures I took. Today’s photo post was going to be all about flying fancy-style, but like I said, I haven’t quite got those pictures processed. Instead, I’m going to blog my dinner, which happens to relate back to my trip in more than just the “so tired, can’t get stuff organized” way. You see, on Tuesday night my brother Piett and I made a huge pasta dinner for my parents, my Oma, my aunt Ingrid, uncle Dako, their daughters StÃ©phanie and Claudia, and StÃ©phanie’s boyfriend Raymond (to be perfectly fair, Claud made her own food but I was still happy to have something that almost everyone could agree to eat). We cooked 1 1/2 kilos of spaghetti and three different sauces for people to mix and match to their own tastes: tomato-meat, tomato-vegetable sauce, and creamy pesto. Piett was an awesome sous-chef, and somewhere in the chatting over cooking we got to the topic of Alfredo sauce. My basic point was that it’s super-easy, and Piett said he’d like me to show him how to make it some time. While this post is not the video podcast recipe he suggested, it’s a step in that direction.
One more note: this is really easy. I was basically in stunned-monkey mode tonight, too tired even to go out for Cuban dinerliciousness with Peter and Greg, and I needed comfort food, something nice and rich and not for every day. My first thoughts were along the lines of noodle kugel, maybe, or mac and cheese. But both of those are time-consuming and would mean firing up the oven. No thanks, I thought, I’ll make Alfredo. It’s going to be awesome, easy, and fast. And it was. The time stamps on these pictures range from 9:37 till 9:48 PM, with a few minutes of prep (garlic mincing, water boiling) before I started picture-taking. So yeah. Zero to delicious plate of pasta in 15-odd minutes? I’m going to call that a win. And complete blog post on the subject in barely over an hour more, so I can still get to bed early? Epic win.
Anyway. The first thing I did was put a small pan of water on to boil. Next, I minced up some garlic: one huge clove. When the water got to a boil, I put in about 1/4 pound of linguine, broken in half so it would fit in the pan easily and be easy to stir and so on.
I set a timer for 5 minutes (which is not really long enough to fully cook fettucini, but that’s OK since this is one of those awesome recipes where you finish cooking the pasta right in its sauce, so it can absorb extra deliciousness). Then, I started melting butter in a small pan over medium to medium-high heat:
When the butter was all the way melted, I added the garlic (maybe 2 TB?):
Next I added some heavy cream (maybe 1/4 cup but I could see going up to 1/3 easily) and let the mix boil over medium heat, with only the occasional stir.
Really, the fact that I could pull this recipe and pictures off while stupid tired really does say a lot about how easy it is. Anyway, I boiled the garlic-butter-cream mix for a little longer than it took for me to grate a nice pile of Parmesan (maybe 1/4 to 1/3 cup?):
which I then added to the thickening cream mix:
and as you can see, stirring it in thickened things up nicely:
So then it was time to drain the pasta, although not too super-well, and add the pasta and a little bit of its cooking water right into the pan with the sauce. I gave it a stir and let it cook for maybe another minute or so, with the occasional stir to see how it was doing:
Anyway, when the pasta water was boiled off and the noodles looked pretty well coated in sauce (which was starting to brown on the bottom of the pan in places) I put the food on a plate (and the pan in the sink to soak in hot water since Alfredo sauce can be a real bear to clean):
I topped it with another goodly messload of Parmesan, grated while the pasta finished in the pan (about as big as the last handful, maybe a little more) and then lots of black pepper and a teensy pinch of salt (which might be optional depending on the saltiness of your cheese):
And that’s linguine Alfredo, in 15 minutes or less. This is basically how we used to make it when I worked at the Glenwood in Eugene, except there we had pre-minced garlic, pre-shredded cheese, and par-cooked fettucini noodles so the final cooking step was a little longer just to make sure the noodles got nice and done and soft and warm and comforting. Calling it “mac and cheese for grown-ups” was almost always good for getting my co-workers to grin. And cooking and eating it tonight was delicious and comforting and will certainly be good for my getting to sleep. Happy weekend, all.
Update, 1 February 2010: I totally wrote this whole post and forgot to mention Piett’s birthday, January 17. Silly me. Hey Piett, happy belated recognition that this recipe kinda sorta might count as a cheapskate birthday present from me. Yay?