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Mike's Recipe, Dec. 2011 - Alfredo
Back when Heather and I started doing some real home cooking some years ago, one of the first things we made was a spicy habanero alfredo pasta. We simply bought a jar of alfredo sauce and blended in a seeded pepper. The first batch we made was amazing. Just the right amount of hotness. The second time we made it, we almost died. This month, I wanted to try and recreate that first dish minus the store bought alfredo sauce.

I started my recipe search looking specifically for a spicy alfredo sauce and I came up a bit short. As such, I picked my favorite plain old alfredo recipe and planned to add a hot pepper or two. The one I picked was Emeril's Fettuccini Alfredo with Prosciutto and Peas. I loved the addition of prosciutto and peas to the mix and the alfredo sauce actually looked extremely simple to make.

As per usual, Heather did the shopping for me. She ended up picking out three little habanero peppers, each a different color. This brought on a dilemma for me. How many of the peppers should go in the sauce? Because the shallots, garlic, and peppers needed to be sauteed ahead of the rest of the process, there was really no way to add, taste for heat, and add more if necessary. I had to make a decision up front and roll with it.

With input from Heather, I decided that just one pepper was going to get added to the sauce. I'd cut the other two up and freeze them for later use. With that decision, I got started. The recipe looked simple enough that I decided I was going to truly try and multitask while I was preparing the meal. You know, like a real cook. I put some water on to boil for the pasta, heated up some oil in a pan, and started cutting up the shallots, onions, and peppers.

As I should have expected, the oil got way too hot and my first batch of ingredients weren't prepped yet. I took it off the heat temporarily, waited until I was closer to finishing my chopping, and then put it back on. The first three ingredients went in the pan and sauteed for just a couple minutes.

At this point, the water had been boiling, waiting for me, for quite a while. In fact, it was boiling over. This was my only major screw-up this time around. At one point Heather came in and was a bit anxious about the boiling water spilling on the stove. She grabbed a plastic measuring cup and took a few scoops out of the top. So that's what I'm supposed to do when boiling water is too full! Lesson learned.

I put the dried pasta in the pot and set the timer for the 9 minutes the box told me would be needed for al dente pasta. While that cooked, I went back to the saute pan. The next step was pour in the heavy cream. This felt a little strange. I never realized alfredo sauces were this simple. The cream came up to a relatively vigorous simmer and in went the frozen peas and prosciutto. This cooled everything down a bit and it started to look really good.

The final step in the recipe was to sprinkle the cheese into the mix and stir away. I didn't really measure the cheese out, instead just going by my gut. The whole mixture got a bit thick after this so I resorted to adding a little more heavy cream. Then I thought it was too loose, so I added a bit more cheese. I knew this pattern couldn't continue, so I gave in to the consistency. It honestly wasn't too bad!

I tasted the sauce and the cheese had made it quite salty. I was a little worried, but used this as a sign to not add anymore salt. I was really hoping the addition of the pasta would level the seasoning out a bit. To my delight, it seemed to do just that!

I think this dish was easily my most successful since starting this new recipe post concept. I was thrilled with the amount of heat in the dish. The perfect amount of spiciness! I think Heather liked it too. She actually got seconds!

You just read one of Upstate Crumbs' monthly New Recipe posts. Every month, Mike and Heather will each make a post about a new recipe. For Mike, it will usually be an adventure in trying to learn to cook. For Heather, she'll pick something that is outside of her comfort zone in some way.
By Mike on December 21, 2011 at 9:46pm EST Topic(s): recipes new recipes home cooking alfredo emeril habanero peas prosciutto

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