This may look appear to be normal pasta – if anything, a bit mushy and brown looking, but otherwise nothing special. But no. This is some seriously, insanely, unnecessarily butteriffic pasta.
Butteriffic: (adj) infused with a completely superfluous amount of butter to the point of unsurpassed deliciousness and extreme caloric overload.
TV is generally full of all sorts of useless drivel, which is why I don’t own a television. However, sometimes TV teaches you important things. For example, how to take a decadent and already relatively unhealthy dish such as macaroni & cheese and then infuse it with more deep, rich, buttery flavor to the point of…well, I was going to say heart attack, but I’m still standing. So then, more accurately, to the point of AMAZING. For this knowledge, I owe thanks to the final episode of MasterChef, which, based on my one viewing, appears to be a British show of similar concept and nearly identical name to Top Chef. In the ultimate challenge to determine a winner, the contestants had to recreate the dishes from a Michelin-starred chef for thirty other Michelin-starred chefs. Yikes. I learned that Michelin-starred food is precise, complex, innovative, boundary-pushing, technological, demanding, beautifully presented, really ridiculously complicated, and most importantly – you guessed it, butteriffic.
The macaroni & cheese, elevated to Michelin-starred standards, involved dried pasta pan-roasted in butter, simmered in veal stock, covered in stock glaze, cut into perfect circles, and stacked into a tower with layers of butternut squash and another over-the-top indulgence, duck confit. Apparently the dish took four hours to make, and that’s along with the 18 ducks that Steve, the ultimate winner, had to simultaneously roast. Obviously I have neither the skill nor the time to recreate this dish, although maybe I should try because then I could eat it. But pan roasting in butter and simmering in stock? That I can do.
And now you can too, if you’re looking for that extra hefty dosage of calories. But hey – it’s also an extra hefty dose of seriously tasty comfort food, perfect for curling up in a comforter on the couch on a cold day. This would also be an excellent dish if you were a bear looking to stock up on fat for hibernation. If you’re not a bear…well, you’ll just have to take my word for it that the buttery goodness is worth the fat.
Butter-Fried, Onion Soup-Simmered Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Ricotta
What You Need:
about 1 cup dried pasta (shape-wise, something like rotini, ziti, or farfalle is probably easiest)
a huge hunk of butter
about 1 1/2-2 cups of stock – I happened to make beefy onion soup the day before (with enough white wine for a long lunch date of desperate housewives), which worked perfectly and added a nice layer of caramelized onion taste. however, you could use any kind of storebought stock for minimal work or homemade for more work but totally worth it. also, you could easily make this meat-free by using veggie stock.
1 cup roasted butternut squash (easy instructions below)
1/3 cup ricotta cheese – the fresher the better
Note: as usual, I didn’t actually measure any of these amounts, so take with a grain of salt. Feel free to add or subtract as seems appropriate. Also, this made food for two girls with the appetites of competitive eating champions. Possibly not recommended as a serving size.
What You Do:
1. If you haven’t made the squash yet, slice into thin pieces and place into a lightly olive oiled baking tray and whack into the oven on high until it’s browned and soft. I like to peel it first if possible, but you’ll need a decently sharp peeler to attack the squash. If you don’t have one, you can remove the skin post-roasting or just eat it.
2. Place the hunk of butter into a large saucepan on low heat. Let the butter warm a little until it starts foaming a bit, then pour the dried pasta into the saucepan. Yup, just dunk it in the butter.
3. Let the pasta pan-fry in the butter, stirring occasionally for fair butter distribution, until the pasta gets a little toasty and browned.
4. Add the stock to the pan (whooosh of hot onionyness) and then let the pasta simmer in the soup until al dente. It’ll start to get thicker and mushier, so use a spatula to stir every so often to prevent sticking.
5. Cut your roasted squash into yummy bite-size chunks.
6. Once cooked, place the pasta in a bowl and mix in the squash bites. Top with a sprinkling of ricotta cheese and a few twists of fresh black pepper.
7. Begin the cholesterol-building, stomach-satisfying process of downing this insanely indulgent dish.