Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo

Steven recently mentioned something about me making a "good kitchen purchase" (I can't remember what he was referring to) so I asked him what he thought was a "bad" purchase. I personally think all of my kitchen items are great and can't-live-without necessary. That madeleine pan? Yup, absolutely essential, how else am I going to make madeleines, right? ;) He thought for a moment, I'm not sure if he realized he was treading on thin ice here, and said, "pasta machine." I gasped, I protested, but, as much as I hate to admit it, he was right. Ever since I made bought it many months ago, I had only used it once. Instead of trying to justify why I needed a pasta machine, I made it a personal mission to make good use of it and created a long list of fresh noodle and pasta dishes I planned to make. I have to stand up for my gadgets after all, and yeah, I also do want to prove Steven wrong, but he can't complain because he reaps the delicious benefits of handmade pasta.

This was my first time making fresh pasta so I reached for my copy of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking cuz you can't go wrong with Marcella Hazan for Italian. I kept it simple and made the classic alfredo sauce. In the past I've tried to make alfredo reasonably healthy because all that cream, butter, and cheese is a little alarming. My light version was a roux, milk, and cheese, essentially a bechamel and parm (or a Mornay). It was alright, but that's all it was, a bechamel with parm, it was not alfredo sauce. Since I was going through the trouble of making my own pasta this time, I didn't hold back. This isn't something I would make everyday, but when I do choose to indulge, there's no reason to skimp right?

Mmm... cream, butter, and cheese, deeeelicious.

Fettuccine Alfredo
Serves 2 - 3 as a main dish, 3 - 4 as an appetizer

Fresh Pasta
1 C flour
2 large eggs

First make a mountain of flour on your work surface, then create a crater in the center. Add your eggs in the crater. Use a fork and beat the eggs in the crater incoroporating a little bit of the flour at a time. Once the egg mixture begins to look like a batter, you can start incorporating more of the flour into the dough. After incoporporating all the flour, you will end up with a dough. If the dough is still sticky, add some more flour. Knead by pushing with the heel of your palm, fold the dough in half, give it a half turn, and repeat the process for 8 minutes or until it feels smooth. Marcella did not specify to let the dough rest but I let the dough rest (covered) for 20ish minutes.

Cut the dough into 3 equal portions. Take one portion of the dough and press it flat, then run it through the pasta machine on the widest setting. Fold the dough in thirds and run the narrow end into the machine again. Repeat twice more. Do this to the remaining 2 portions of dough. Now you should have 3 portions of dough that have been passed through the widest setting 3 times each. Go up one setting, and run each portion of dough through twice, but do not fold in thirds this time, just run it straight through twice. Repeat with the two other pieces of dough. Go up one setting, and repeat again. My machine has 7 settings and I stopped on setting #3 for fettuccine because I want my noodles a little on the thicker side. After running the pasta through the #3 setting twice more, run it through the fettuccine cutter (the wider cutter). Separate any noodles that did not get cut all the way through. Lightly toss the noodles in some flour.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt the water, then add the pasta. Cook for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta reserving some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce if necessary.

Alfredo Sauce (enough to dress the pasta made from the above recipe)
1/2 C heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 C grated parmigiano-reggiano + additional if needed at table
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Simmer the cream, butter, and nutmeg in a saucepan over low heat until it has thickened somewhat, about 5 minutes.

Toss the pasta in the cream, add the grated cheese and toss until evenly distributed. If the sauce is too thin, add a little of the pasta water. Add freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste, add additional cheese on top at the table.

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