On Wednesdays I cook for two very special people, the pastor of our church Holy Cross and a visiting Missionary who is studying Canon Law at St. Paul University. This weekly tradition gives me as much pleasure as the gift of a meal does for them. It’s important to me to put meals on the table that people like. It’s fun to menu plan and I get to pretend to be a chef. It’s my way of treating someone and saying I love you.
Fr. Mark asked for fettuccini Alfredo. I have never had it before. I had no clue what it was. I am a ragu, carbonara kind of girl. In my research of 12 different blogs, 1 video and a quick chat with a dear friend I found that the dish was first made in Rome Italy by an Alfredo di Lelio in 1914 for his nauseated pregnant wife Ines. It was successful so Alfredo put it on their restaurant menu. Silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks had the dish while honeymooning in Rome 1920 and asked for the recipe. They brought it back to the USA where it became massively popular but in Italy it is virtually unheard of. Alfredo made pasta bianco…white noodles, butter and parmesan.
In the States the dish morphed to butter, cream and parmigianno reggiano and at times contains garlic, chicken or shrimp.
I am no chef, but I know my way around the kitchen so most of the recipes I saw on-line were dismissed as meh. An old friend and priest Fr. Lukose once told me that cooking has to come from within…from your heart and soul. My dear friend Cristiana says the same so when I put the recipe that follows together this evening it is from my heart.
As for my family…Matt gobbled pasta for the first time tonight. The children, Nana and my dog loved it. Chris had seconds. The pasta was rich, silky and had a suble garlic note swimming through it. As for me, while I enjoyed the pasta, my head just couldn’t get past the sheer number of calories in the dish and I am pretty sure I felt my arteries hardening. I am still a hardcore ragu and carbonara girl.
1/2 c unsalted butter
1 & 1/2 c heavy cream (35%)
1.5 tbsp minced garlic (germ removed please)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp finely cracked black pepper
7 oz finely grated parmesan (please grate your own, use the real stuff, not Kraft)
1/2 c 2% milk
*In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, bring to the barest simmer butter, cream, garlic, sat and pepper.
* Simmer very, very gently for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
* Strain the sauce. The sauce needs to be silky, not clumpy with nasty bits of garlic and cracked black pepper. I love garlic but the sauce needs to be silky.
*While the sauce is hot gradually add you grated parm and let it all hang out and assimilate together. Return the sauce to the pan and put it back on low heat. Taste, then season to personal taste with salt and pepper. Add your milk as needed to thin out your sauce.
*In a large pot bring at least 4 litres of salted water to a boil. Our family uses Marcella Hazans rule of thumb which is, per pound of dried pasta 1.5 tbsp of fine sea salt (iodized salt is just awful, don’t go there) to 4 litres of water. This is your only opportunity to season your pasta. Just do it!
* Cook your fettuccini pasta according to package instructions. If I don’t make my own, I am partial to Rustichella d’Abruzzo. Don’t overcook, your pasta shouldn’t be Chef Boyardee mushy.
*Reserve 2c of your pasta water before you drain your pasta. Add your sauce until it coats the pasta. Add water…a little at a time stirring until the sauce on the noodles is silky.