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
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.) America
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 SauceAdapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup heavy whipping cream2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 pounds spaghetti or fettuccine
2/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
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.