Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino
Are you a lonely bachelor (perhaps bachelorette), who still likes to eat well? I know I am, and God knows what an ordeal it is cooking for one. I do my best to note what can be easily reduced to one serving, and this is one of those rare cases.
Aglio, olio, e peperoncino is simply Italian for garlic, oil, and peppers. I had heard Mario Batali talk about it on TV on numerous occasions, without ever making it - then on one of the episodes in the series that sees him travel to Italy, he finally did. Needless to say, it's ridiculously simple. And ridiculously delicious. And it obviates the need for another depressing run to McDonald's or 7-11. Might even impress the ladies, if you (I) could ever get one to come over.
You need some noodle-style pasta, the better the quality, the better the result. This is a simple dish, so the quality of ingredients is pretty significant. I get mine in the import section of my supermarket, and it's the best mass-produced stuff I've tried. La Molisana is the brand, and I'm using linguine in this case. A flat noodle is the way to go, here. You will obviously need garlic, the fresher the better. One of the cloves I used was just beginning to sprout - not a big deal, but not ideal. It's a little more bitter than you want if that happens, but I'm mostly just explaining myself when you see the green bit in the middle coming up. You also need peppers - red ox peppers. They're small and red, and not all that hot, but they do have some heat. Extra virgin olive oil, too. The stuff I have here isn't the best, but I'll be damned if I'm going to spend $20 on a bottle of the good shit. Salt and pepper to taste. Yeah, I should really be using fresh ground pepper, and I promise to get on that. My salt is non-iodized sea salt, but use whatever you want. Yes, I'm using an electric griddle to cook on. I tried it on a whim one time, and it's a brilliant innovation on my part if I do say so.
- Ed. Note: I would imagine Peperoncino would be appropriate instead of the peppers used.
Water's boiling! It's go time.
Salt the water first! The old folk rule of thumb is that it's supposed to be as salty as the Mediterranian Sea, but damn, that's pretty salty. I add two healthy, multi-finger pinches. Then drop the noodles in. They will submerge themselves quickly. Do not break them! Mario says generations of Italian grandmothers have arrived at the correct pasta length, and you don't want to defy them from what I've seen.
Oil onto a heated surface, 350*F on the dial. Let it heat up a bit.
Sizzle sizzle. The absolute key here is TO NOT LET THE GARLIC BURN. That is easy to do, and it will taste like sheeeeit. You also do not want to undercook it, as that tends to make it taste like dirt for some reason. Season lightly with a little salt.
This is the level of brown-ness you want. Beautifully carmelized, imparting a mild, sweetish flavour. You could eat these in lieu of potato chips if you wanted to slice garlic all day.
The pasta likes to dance! Leave it on high temp at a heavy boil, so it doesn't clump.
Pasta check. Pretty close, but the drape over the fork still isn't quite right. A taste check also proves it's a little too hard. This will be ready to come out of the water in about thirty seconds. You want it a hair underdone because...
...this is a very important step. The mostly drained pasta is added to the essentially cooked "dressing." Do not drain it dry, the remaining starchy water helps the texture. Toss them together in your cooking vessel of choice.
And very shortly dump them onto your serving item of choice, in this case, a deep-dish plate. Dress with a little oil from the bottle, but not too much! The amount of liquid should create a small puddle in the bottom when you are done. Put some black pepper on now, if you so choose.
And enjoy it with your preferred beverage. I don't drink wine, so this simple (local) lager works really well.
I hope you try and enjoy this.