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Hello again good folks!
Before getting started a quick announcement: we will be having special guest hosts for the next two installments of Sunday Gravy and I’m confident that they will stun and amaze you with their culinary exploits and life observations. No hints, it’s a secret!
I WILL be cooking the next couple of weekends but the first week I have been challenged to a homemade pizza throwdown! Gauntlet motherfucking dropped! The second week I will be preparing a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day feast and we’ve already bloody done those haven’t we?
Off we go!
First thing is that banner picture. Is that a sexy fucking photo or what? One of the behind the scenes things I’ve been working on is my food photography. Improving the quality as well as adding additional photos as we prepare the meal. I feel that the photos break up my usual 2,000 word blocks of text and help to keep the reader engaged. Once again we’ve got a shitload o’ photos this week.
Show me someone who doesn’t like alfredo sauce and I’ll show you someone who is either lactose intolerant, has a bizarre dislike of cheese products (I may be glancing your direction Mr. Hippo) or somebody who’s never had alfredo done properly. Seriously don’t ever buy the shit in a jar. Do you have any idea how easy this is to make at home? Do you know what the primary ingredients of a basic alfredo sauce are?
Yep. Butter, cream and cheese. I also add in a clove of minced garlic and a little parsley.
That is fucking it. Why do people buy the jarred shit again?
Alfredo sauce has been around since the 15th century and is a very basic traditional Italian sauce. Entry level shit. I’ve had alfredo sauce on a pizza. Fucking insanely good. It can be used in casseroles, it makes a kick ass batch of potatoes au gratin. Use it to cover crepes you wild and crazy person. I really like alfredo sauce with shrimp; grilled chicken is an awesome fucking application, basically the possibilities are endless. Today I am using a favorite version with pancetta and shiitake mushrooms.
Since the sauce is so fucking easy to make I’m stepping up this dish by also making fettuccini noodles from scratch. This is much a much easier dish than it sounds and I can walk you through the process. Of course it helps if you have a pasta roller and maybe a cutting attachment so there’s that on top of it. I once again get to show off my cool kitchen toys.
That’s the pasta roller and fettuccini cutter attachments. I also have a spaghetti cutter but since it’s narrower in gauge than fettuccini the chances of it sticking during the cutting process are a bit higher.
Let’s go ahead and make the sauce first since some of you probably don’t have the pasta roller or cutter. Go ahead and use store bought fettuccini noodles and serve with the homemade sauce.
Alfredo sauce with pancetta and shiitake mushrooms.
1/4 cup of butter – that’s half a stick.
1 cup heavy cream AKA whipping cream not half and half.
1 1/2 cup of FRESHLY grated parmesan cheese of course I used my standard parmigiano reggiano. Do not use that fucking green can. Don’t do it! Quick side note: I had about 1/2 cup of a killer wedge of asiago cheese that had olive oil and rosemary infused with it. It worked just fine here. All parmesan is fucking perfect for this.
1 clove of minced garlic
1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley saving a handful for garnishing.
4 oz of chopped pancetta – basically pancetta is Italian bacon without the flavor of wood smoke. Most delis carry it already chopped.
6 shiitake mushrooms rough chopped.
Let’s start by sauteing the pancetta in a large skillet. Don’t need to add any oil, the pancetta will make it’s own.
Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes and then add in the mushrooms.
The pan will look a little crowded but once the mushrooms start reducing down and the fluids are cooked out it will shrink down nicely. This takes about another 5 minutes.
When the mushrooms have cooked down, remove the pan from the heat. Next let’s start building the sauce. Look at the photo up there of the butter, cream and cheese. Have everything ready to go because this sauce builds really goddamn fast.
Start by getting a cooking pot or even the usual dutch oven and melt the butter.
I don’t think I need to add a photo of butter melting here.
When the butter has melted add in the cup of heavy cream.
Let this cook for about 5 minutes on medium low heat. Give it a stir pretty frequently. Don’t scorch the sauce because scorched sauce is bullshit. After 5 minutes add in the cheese.
And stir briskly until the cheese has melted and the sauce has a smooth consistency. Now add in the garlic and parsley along with the cooked pancetta and mushroom mixture. Stir for about 3 minutes and serve with cooked noodles.
See how easy that shit is? Add whatever types of protein or vegetables suit your palate. This sauce is versatile as fuck.
For those of you using store bought noodles this is all the shit you need for a brilliant fucking meal. For those adventurous folks out there who would like to impress a young lady or gentleman with their cooking prowess start with this fucker right here. Quick, easy and so fucking tasty. They will be impressed.
You’re not excused from the rest of this post however! You’re at least going to learn about making fresh pasta and hopefully will be inspired enough to consider trying it at home. If you don’t want to drop the cash to get a badass Kitchenaid 600 with the killer fucking attachments you can get a hand-cranked pasta roller that you can buy online. Here’s one from Amazon for 25 bucks! Shit, man! You’ve got 25 bucks!
First caveat about fresh noodles: like anything, it takes some practice. They will get better each time you make them. Pasta is similar to baking. Two hard and fast rules to keep in mind. ALWAYS use exact measurements and ALWAYS allow the pasta to rest for the allotted time before attempting to roll. It can be frustrating as a motherfucker if you don’t.
Fresh semolina pasta.
1 1/2 cups of semolina flour. Semolina is durum wheat and gives a nice chew to the pasta. Many people use a mix of semolina and all purpose but we won’t today.
2 eggs beaten.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of water.
1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Combine flour and salt in a bowl and mix well. Next add in the beaten eggs and the olive oil and water. Mix until a crumbly dough forms.
Want to know where the magic and the fucking work happens?
Move dough mixture to a lightly floured surface, wash your grubby ass hands and get ready to get busy.
We are going to knead this bastard for 10 minutes. Non stop if possible. Now, 10 minutes may not sound like all that much but lemme tells ya! If you haven’t been doing your wrist curls or haven’t kneaded anything in awhile? You’re going to feel this. More so the next day. This is a pretty dense dough, think the consistency of Play-Doh. This isn’t a flimsy ass all purpose flour based dough here.
Get in there and knead that fucker! Don’t give out on me! This is how we get the wheat gluten to do it’s thing and it’s what makes this pasta special.
After 10 minutes of kneading you will be rewarded with a ball of dough resembling thusly.
That’s the fruit of your labor right there. Put that dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Thirty minutes!
The order of the rest of this undertaking goes something like this:
Roll with the pasta roller.
Cut with the pasta cutter.
Dry the pasta on your pasta rack.
/shown pasta drying rack. These things are cheap as hell to buy too.
Let the pasta dry for 15 minutes.
Boil the noodles in rapidly boiling water for 3 minutes.
Serve with favorite sauce.
Let’s go to the photos!
The pasta roller attachment gets attached to the business end of the stand mixer.
I move the mixer to the edge of a counter to give you room to work with the rolled pasta and the cut noodles.
Here’s an important cleanliness tip! Put a towel down on the floor underneath the roller.
Here’s what the towel looks like after the rolling and the cutting is done. Makes it a whole hell of a lot easier to clean up.
Time to get that pasta rolled out. Divide the pasta dough into about 3 balls of dough. Set the pasta roller on the widest possible setting for the first roll. You will need to work the dough with your hands to help flatten it out prior to rolling through. Get the roller fired up and start rolling the dough through.
Hopefully this goes without saying but keep your fingers away from the roller opening OK? If you need to press the dough to get it to roll through use the heel of your hand. The dough may not roll through smoothly at first but if you can get it to roll through the first time simply fold the dough over itself and re-roll. We are still on the widest setting here. When the dough rolls into a solid firm sheet of dough, adjust the width setting on the pasta roller and bring it in 1 step. Roll the sheet of dough through a couple of times and move the roller guides in another step. My roller settings show “0” as the widest opening, “1” as the next setting then “2” etc. I rolled the pasta just until the “3” thickness setting, we don’t want it too thin.
Those 3 little balls of dough gave us this:
That’s about 5 sheets of rolled pasta. If you like extra long noodles just get to cutting these sheets as is. If you want manageable noodles that are easier to handle and dry then you can cut each one of these sheets in half prior to cutting.
This is where I swapped out the roller attachment and put the cutting attachment in place. A quick note. Let’s look at the mixer and the attachments again.
If you look carefully at the base of the stand mixer you may see a little brush. Due to the presence of flour in the dough mixture this is how you clean the attachments. Just give them a little brush and maybe a wipe down with a clean dry kitchen towel. You never want these to be immersed in water and if you clean and brush after each use these will stay clean and will be much less prone to having the pasta dough stick when pressing through.
Maintain yo’ gear!
Once the cutter is firmly in place let’s take a section of the rolled pasta and roll that sumbitch through.
There’s going to be a little waste with the outside edges of the sheet of pasta. That’s why we have the towel down. We want the noodles to be uniform in length and width so the smaller or funkier shaped pasta won’t be needed. Each half sheet of cut pasta is going to give you a good deal of usable noodles.
Take the cut noodles over to the pasta drying rack and lay them gently over the dowels. Let’s make sure each strand is separate because they will stick to each other when drying. After all of the pasta has been cut you will have a pretty full pasta rack.
These need to dry for 15 minutes. After drying you’re going to have a pretty decent batch of noodles. I initially thought we might have more noodles than sauce but that was erroneous. These noodles done got et. Here’s the batch.
That’s a good size plate of noodles. You will notice the tell-tale “U” shape that’s a result of the drying rack. No worries there because as soon as you boil them they straighten right the fuck out.
Straighten your ass out noodles!
These boil for 3 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to remove the cooked noodles from the water and drop them directly into the sauce that just finished cooking and put the whole dish together that way. Don’t plate the noodles, then add sauce shit. Finish the dish together. You may need a ladle or so of the pasta water if the alfredo sauce and the noodles are too tight.
Spoon some of the finished dish out of the pan and onto a serving plate, garnish with a little bit of the chopped parsley and maybe a grate or two of the fresh parmesan and serve.
For the garlic bread I used a basic loaf of French bread, sliced a few slices off, melted some butter and added some garlic powder to brush on top. I then grated (YES MORE) fresh parmesan on it and another sprinkle of parsley, cook under the broiler until done.
That’s a nice bottle of California Pinot Gris alongside.
I’m not even gonna drop a description here. Hope you’re not expecting a soliloquy. This is one of the best things I’ve ever made.
The homemade noodles are the big key. There’s no comparison between fresh pasta and store bought and I’ve never been prouder to use the “fuck that store bought shit” tag on a post.
Even if it’s just the sauce.
See you in a couple of weeks.