Friday, July 13, 2012

Comfort, Thanks to Marcella Hazan




Comfort food. Just the name brings a feeling of peace to the heart. It is the food we turn to when the storms of life rattle the windows and shake the doors, causing us to run to the safe haven of home and the dishes that ease the mind, reassure the heart, and cheer the stomach.


As we count down to number one from the Gourmet Live list of 50 Women Game-Changers in food, this week’s selection (number 6) has given America an extensive repertoire of Italian comfort food. Marcella Hazan is considered the Julia Child of Italian cuisine. Like Ms. Child, Hazen paired with her husband, Victor, to create cookbooks that explained to American cooks the details behind some of the most classic Italian dishes while opening the doors to regions and meals unheard of before in this country. Also like Ms. Child, she didn’t learn to cook until marriage necessitated she learn her way around a kitchen. (Read more about Ms. Hazan in this interview from NPR and this one from Epicurious.com.)

After a stressful week, I was in search of comfort as I explored Ms. Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I didn’t want a dish that was complicated, but I did want one that was soothing and satisfying. I found it in her Cream and Butter Sauce, which is actually the basis for what we Americans know as Alfredo sauce. It is simple to prepare and warming to the heart. I see this becoming the meal I turn to when life becomes too aggravating, or I just want a little homey comfort. (It tasted even better preceded by a warm hug from my sweetheart.)  

Cream and Butter Sauce
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
Serves 4 to 6

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 pounds spaghetti or fettuccine
2/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg

Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add salt and the spaghetti or fettuccini and cook until not quite done—just before al dente.

While the pasta cooks, heat the cream and butter just until the butter melts.

Drain the pasta, saving some of the water to thin the sauce if necessary. Pour the cream/butter mixture into the large pan and then return the pasta to the pan, over low heat. Stir the pasta to coat with the cream/butter, and then stir in the cheese and seasoning.

Spoon the pasta into a serving bowl and top with extra grated parmigiano-reggiano.

8 comments:

Sue/the view from great island said...

I absolutely love this Linda! It's probably the purest form of comfort food I can imagine, it's going on my to do list for this week, thanks!

Joanne said...

Marcella's food is surely comforting and this dish especially. Creamy and delicious.

Heather @girlichef.com said...

Mmmm...definitely one of my favorite comfort foods.

Catherine said...

Dear Linda, This is a classic. I love this and it is always pleasing.
Thank you for your visit and your kind comment. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

~~louise~~ said...

Simply delectable Linda! Marcella Hazan will always be one of my favorite cookbook authors.

Thank you so much for sharing this classic recipe...

Kathy said...

Creamy and wonderfully delicious….it screams comfort! A perfect choice!

Kathleen said...

This, indeed, looks like the perfect comfort food!!!

Susan Lindquist said...

This is such a perfect sauce for pasta! I, too, head for the pasta when I want an easy comforting plate ... yum! And isn't Marcella Hazan a really great resource for all things Italian?!?