Monday, 22 March 2010
Spaghetti with Cheese and Black Pepper
I was bored one day while surfing the internet and I clicked on one of Recipezaar's feature articles. One of the recipes that came up was this Better Than Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce. I made it, because I am a huge fan of creamy cheesy sauces (just ask my hips). I didn't add the mozzarella and I used low-fat cream and a quarter of the butter, but I don't think it made that much of a difference to the healthiness of the recipe. Of course, being an Australian who's only ever gone as far away as New Zealand, I couldn't really attest to whether it was truly better than Olive Garden, but it was pretty tasty.
Unfortunately, despite my changes, I had a crisis of conscience whenever I made it. I still loved it and it was perfect to eat after a terrible day when you just wanted to eat your feelings, but it was far better for me to just stay away from the recipe all together.
Then I came across this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. No cream, a fraction of the butter but every bit as creamy as you could want, using just pasta water and cheese. Deb tells of her doubts that the water and cheese would emulsify, but she trusted the Mario Batali method of just throwing it in and not worrying about it. Me? I just didn't think about it all.
I have made this fabulous recipe twice since I first read about it. The first time I followed the recipe to the letter (well, I halved it and then followed it to the half-letter) and while it was good, I realised that I much prefer the taste of parmesan to pecorino and I definately needed more pasta water. I learned though and while the first time was good, the second time was golden.
The second time I used half pecorino and half parmesan and I made the sauce very soupy using a whole cup of pasta water instead of the 3/4 cup recommended by the halved recipe. I also spilled the pepper while adding it, but this was a happy accident as more pepper made the taste just that much more complex. It was awesome. The extra soupy sauce stopped the cheese and pasta glugging together and made for a much more consistent creamy cheesiness.
D loved it, I loved it. It was a nice change to some of our standard boring pasta dishes and we will definitely make it again.
See the post Spaghetti with Cheese and Black Pepper on Smitten Kitchen for the recipe.