Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Linguine All'Alfredo

Adapted from The Classic Pasta Cookbook by Giuliano Hazan

The first time I ate this dish was in the late 1960's at Giambelli 50th Ristorante in NYC. It was prepared at table by a waiter, and I tried to replicate it at home, but there was something ineffable in Giambelli's sauce that I could never quite put my finger on - a certain umami quality that added depth and flavor. I reproduce it by adding a wee amount of Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base, which I always have in the refrigerator. I start with just a smidge of it and then taste to make sure it's enough. I suggest you try it because it's the way I like it, but you can just leave it out.

Although fettuccine is the traditional pasta to serve with this sauce, I prefer linguine. This recipe coats one pound of pasta and can easily be adjusted down if you are making less than that. It's very rich so I generally serve it as a starter, counting on 2 ounces of pasta per person. I've made it so often, I don't measure the ingredients per se, I just add them by instinct, and you will too after you've made it once.

Linguine All'Alfredo
From The Classic Pasta Cookbook by Giuliano Hazan

1 pound of pasta serves 4 as a main course (4 ounces per person) and 8 as a side dish (2 ounces per person)

1 pound dried linguine
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and black pepper 

Smidge of Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (The really good stuff makes this shine.)

Put put a large pot of water on the stove, and bring to a boil while you start to make the sauce in a pan large enough to hold all the pasta when it's done - a skillet, saucier, or sauté pan. While the water is heating, put the butter and cream in the pan  you are using to make the sauce in over medium-high heat. Let it come to a boil, stirring frequently until the cream thickens and has reduced almost by half. If you are using the vegetable base, add a tiny amount now, and stir to incorporate it into the sauce. Taste to make sure it's enough, then add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Turn the  heat off.  

Add salt to the boiling water, then add the pasta, and cook until al dente. If the sauce has cooled down, heat it up gently but not enough to thicken the sauce further, then remove it from the heat. Drain the pasta, and add to the pan with the sauce in it. Toss the pasta to coat it well with the sauce, then add  grated cheese and toss again. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately.

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