My husband's near obsession with pasta alioli had rather unintentional beginnings. We were sitting on the balcony of our apartment in Accra Ghana during the first time he visited me there, in 2003. A fellow expat, Julie, had recently introduced me to 'zines, which to my mind are these amazing self-published expressions of dedication to free and non-corporate speech. Smack in the middle of this one zine was a call to arms: people put down those tasteless jars of marinara sauce. The zine author claimed that the only excuse was not having time, but even if you were short on time, you could always throw together a delicious and quick alioli with what you had on hand in the house. I showed Terry. He said, "Hey, we have all that stuff." And we tried it that night. And probably 100 nights since then. Because it really is delicious and easy. So I'm sending this one on over to Ruth for Presto Pasta Night.
In truth, we don't do this pasta with lobster every night of the week because we are afraid of catching the gout (too much lobster=gout. It happened to Terry's uncle). No, really it is because we can't shell out for lobster every night of the week. But after one particularly stressful and troublesome day of fieldwork in Ghana, I decided it was time for a little luxury. I stopped off at the store on the way home and lo, there was a fridge section full of lobsters. Some of them were as big as the Governator's biceps (and that is no hyperbole). But I settled in for a pack of mini lobsters.
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 dried red chili or red pepper flakes to taste
4 teaspoons half and half
1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese
4 oz spaghetti
6 oz lobster, shrimp or crab meat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Put two pots of salted water on to boil (one for the lobsters, one for the pasta). When water boils, add pasta to one and lobsters to the other.
Add butter and olive oil to a saute pan and heat over medium heat. While heating, finely chop the garlic.
When butter has melted, add the chopped garlic and the whole dried red chili or the red pepper flakes. The heat of the oil will activate the oils in the pepper to bring out the flavor, and the pepper will infuse the oil. Cook over medium heat until garlic is golden and fragrant. Do not allow the garlic to burn: if cooking too quickly, lower heat.
When garlic is golden, reduce heat to low. Add the half and half. Tilt the pan to mix the half and half in with the oil and butter.
When pasta is al dente, remove from heat and strain. Do not rinse. If using a whole dried chili, remove the chili before combining with pasta. Return the pasta to the pot it was boiled in. Pour the alioli sauce over the pasta. Toss to coat.
When lobsters are bright red and begin to float to the top of the pot, remove the pot from the heat. If you are not quite ready to serve yet, allow the lobsters to remain in the warm water until you are ready to plate them to keep the meat warm. Just before serving, remove the whole lobsters from the water. On a stable cutting block, use a large knife to cut off the tail. Then use the knife to crack a slit along the long side of the softer exoskeleton on the underside of the tail (if the tail is curved, the underside is the inside part of the "C" of the curve). You can serve the lobster in the tail alongside the pasta or remove the lobster meat and serve it on top a bed of the pasta.
Grate a few turns of fresh Parmesan cheese or some other pungent cheese. That way, instead of the cheese disappearing into the sauce, you get a few mouthfuls where the cheese is really present mixed in with a few mouthfuls that focus more on the sauce itself.
You can optionally serve some warm butter and garlic in small dishes for dipping the lobster. This is a bit decadent and totally makes my day. If you opt for this, provide approximately 1 tablespoon of melted butter per person. I like to sit a cup with the butter on top of the lobsters after I have removed them from the fire to slowly melt the butter with no fuss. But then again, when I made this in Ghana I didn't have a microwave, so feel free to use your own favorite butter-melting method.
Compare the wise indulgence of pasta alioli with lobster to the to this classic recipe for alfredo on epicurious.com:
|SG Alioli with lobster, per serving||Epicurious Alfredo (no lobster), per serving|