So TMC and I are on the other side of the border in Niagara Falls where we stopped so she could mess with me by dangling over precipices which drives me nuts.
No, it was nothing like that. We were on our way home from a funeral and while our original intention was to shepherd Richard and Emily there, back, and around they were too sick to travel so we pressed on alone.
I have other stories but this will do. After scaring the crap out of me we went up the Midway (oh, if you’ve been, you know- could pay a buck to see a dissected fetus in the Museum of Life first time I was there) and found an Outback for dinner.
Now, everything in Canada is just… better. Except for Tim Hortons (to be fair they have a pretty good bacon croissantwich). You have to factor that in. Outback had a special on Sirloin but it’s not a cut I usually go for as I am frequently disappointed.
But we did 2 and I must say it was great. Very tender and flavorful.
I don’t normally go for Beef, I’m more a seafood guy, but I’m not a vegetarian though I can make a complete meal without meat and not miss it at all.
Aglio e Olio
At it’s core you only need 4 ingredients and water-
This sauce is normally used with a noodle kind of thing, but that’s no reason you couldn’t pick any Pasta you happen to have on hand. I think Ravioli, Large Ziti or Shells, Lasagna, things like that, and really small things like Orzo could be problematic, but stuff like Tortolini would be fine.
The water is to cook the Pasta, the Salt is to flavor it. How salty should it be? “As Salty as the Sea.” But seriously it’s nearly impossible to over salt and the most frequent mistakes are not using a big enough pot or enough water or not bringing it to a full rolling boil before tossing the salt and again before you drop the Pasta (you can turn down the heat after you get there). Or not saving some Pasta Water as a general rule to keep the Pasta loose so you can sauce it, though that’s not usually a problem with this recipe because Olio.
Also, don’t overcook. Al Dente is Al Dente and if it’s mushy out of the pot it will be extra mushy on the plate as it continues to cook. If you’re not tasting/testing at 6 minutes (sooner for amounts less than a pound) you’re missing the window.
Which is why I like to have my sauce ready. Timing is a problem and were I really good I’d be able to have them both ready at exactly the critical moment.
I am not that good.
- Olive Oil
Extra Extra Virgin, you’re not going to be cooking any hotter than you would with butter. I have an electric range. I run it at 40%.
The Olive Oil is to cook the Garlic in, then coat and transport the taste to the Pasta. You need enough for that (probably less than you think) but you don’t have to worry about being a little generous. You’re not going to be serving this swimming in sauce and the excess will mostly just drip off.
The best Garlic you can lay your hands on.
Organic is pretty much a scam garbage label so don’t pay more. Go to the loosey bin in your store and pick ones that look fresh at the root end (it’s a relative thing) and all the bulbs are firm to the touch. In a pinch jarred minced Garlic or even Garlic powder will do but if a Head of Garlic costs you more than a $1 you’re being ripped off.
How much to use? If all you want is flavor and aroma you press it or mash and mince it (press myself, my knife skills aren’t all that great) and you’ll need about 3 – 5 cloves. If, like me, you enjoy a nice pan roasted Garlic, Whole Clove, Chunked, or Sliced, you’ll need 3 – 5 Heads or more depending on the amount of Pasta.
Don’t freak out. It doesn’t make it any more Garlicky. The longer you cook Garlic the less you taste it. You want Garlic? Try my 5 Lemon 5 Garlic Hummus or my Kalamata Tapenade.
They use raw Garlic. In this preparation Aromatic is done about the moment it hits the pan (no, really, it cooks that fast), for chunkier stuff you’ll want to get a little carmelization happening.
Assuming you’ll be early (overdone Pasta is impossible to fix) park it over the lowest low you can muster to keep it warm and liquidy.
Toss the Pasta in the sauce allowing the extra to drain off when you transfer the Pasta to the Serving Bowl.
Umm… that’s it. Stupid simple eh?
Ok, some of these are pretty desirable but they are optional.
- Cracked Black Pepper
Ok, practically a necessity but not quite.
- Grated, or better, Shaved Parmesan
Most people use too much. If you are adding it you can toss with the Pasta in the Serving Bowl or you can serve individually so any guest who does not like Parmesan can skip it (my niece is fairly convinced she has a lactose intolerance).
Why? For color? It doesn’t taste like anything but it’s in every classic recipe I looked at.
Of course there are a Billion variations. Make it your own.
Sir Loin of Beef