Who isn’t a fan of Fettuccine Alfredo? It’s creamy, cheesy, warm, and delicious. And it is such a simple perfection; how would you improve on it?
Easy. Let people do with it as they want to. Set out bowls of anything you can imagine would be good with Alfredo, and let people mix it up as they want. Peas, broccoli florets, bacon crumbles, sauteed mushrooms. My mouth waters just thinking about it. But my favorite is always Blackened Cajun Chicken thighs and tomatoes. Let the creamy Alfredo cool off the spicy cajun seasonings, with some ripe tomatoes to bring it all together.
Pat the chicken thighs with a paper towel so they are somewhat dry. Sprinkle some Cajun seasoning on it and slap it into a hot skillet. The amount of spice used depends on your heat tolerance, but a gentle even coating will go a long way (more than you would salt it, less than a dry rub). Cook them until they are cooked through, then turn up the heat a little and sear them until the spices turn a dark brown. You can go all the way to blackened (as per the name) but I am not a fan of smoke in the house if I don’t have to. 😀
Now chop all the vegetables that you want and put them in individual bowls. Don’t forget to saute the mushrooms (if you like the fungus)!
Now make the Fettuccine Alfredo! This part is usually last, because it cools quickly, and if it sits around it can resemble glue. Don’t worry if it does that! You can plan for it! Just keep about a cup of the water from cooking the pasta, and set it aside. if the Alfedo gets too thick, you can add a little of the water and stir it in. Like magic, it will be perfect again!
OK, we all know it isn’t considered good for you. But that’s fine; just don’t eat it every day, and eat it in moderation. Yeah, there is an entire sermon in that statement, maybe later. 😀
Cook the pasta. Save a cup of the water, and drain the pasta. Then you put in the butter, and let it melt. Toss the pasta in the butter. Now pour in the cream, salt and pepper. Toss the pasta in the cream. Add the grated cheese and stir together over low heat, and watch it all come together.
Adjust for salt and pepper if you need to. Don’t be shy, as it can take more seasoning than you think. Just taste it as you go; nobody likes salty Alfredo. (Who am I kidding? It would have to be like a salt-lick for me to stay away!)
Serve immediately, and let people mix and match whatever they want. This one is my favorite. You should go find what is yours.
I love Sausage with Bell peppers and Onions. The slightly spicy Italian Sausage mixes well with the crispness and mild flavor of the bell peppers, and the onion just brings it all home.
I think I first tried it at Disney World some decades back when we lived in Florida. We were 90 minutes from our doorstep to entering one of the parks, and back then was several years BC (Before Children), so we had a lot more time to play. I would get off work, my sweetheart would pick me up, and off we would go to visit a theme park. Our favorite was Epcot. I know, Magic Kingdom is fun, and the MGM park had some very interesting attractions, but for us the Nations Lake around Epcot had the most variety. You could get very small (and yes, slightly sanitized) versions of a handful of different cultures, along with some of their traditions, beliefs, and yes, food. And being who we are, the food was the key.
Swedish pastries, Japanese bowls, Mexican plates, and German Bratwurst. And of course, the Sausage with Bell Peppers and Onions. i don’t even remember where it was, just that I loved it. (Of course, I loved a lot of the other foods as well, but those are for another day.)
I finally got around to making it myself. And it was good. Then we made it confit, and it was great! For those of you new to the term, “confit” simply means to cook food, usually meat, and then to marinade it in it’s own fats and juices. This has the effect of blending and concentrating flavors in a way that other cooking methods don’t. In the case of Sausage with bell peppers and Onions, it elevates it to the next level.
I start by browning the Italian Sausage. I am particular to the Torino brand Italian Sausages, sold at Costco, but feel free to use whatever quality Sausages you can find. Oh, and the legalese and Food Handlers warning: these things have raw pork in them, please be careful to not cross contaminate anything you aren’t going to cook well, and don’t taste test until it is all cooked thoroughly.
While the sausages are browning, you can slice the Bell Peppers and Onions. I like yellow, red, and orange bell peppers, but the green taste almost the same and are a half to a third the price of the more colorful ones. If I am serving to guests and want the wow factor, I’ll spend the extra; if it is just for me and the family, it will be the green ones. Also, I like the sweet yellow onions. less bite, more onioniness… err, onionier.. onion-esk. Whatever.
And long quarter inch strips are good in this, as it’s good to see what you are eating.
Once the vegetables are sliced and the sausage is browned on the outside, remove the sausage from the pan and toss in the peppers and onions. And yes, the fats from the sausages are to be left in there, as they are flavor and will saute the vegetables. personally, I add another tablespoon or two of vegetable oil, to make sure all of them get a good coating. And yes, this makes a lot, so scale it down if you need to. And whatever you do, don’t scrape out those wonderful brown bits stuck to the pan from the sausage! That’s flavor!
Slice the sausages on the bias and add them back into the pan with the vegetables. And by bias I mean “anobliqueordiagonallineofdirection” (Dictionary.com). It makes the pieces a little larger and more interesting than just little circles. Add the salt, black pepper, and garlic powder or granules.
Now stir, toss, or mix it all together and let it simmer. Mix it around every few minutes until the sausage is fully cooked (no pink, etc) and the vegetables are softened, but still have a little texture in them (we don’t want mushy vegetables).
At this point, once it is all cooked through, you can put it on bread and have a sandwich. It’s pretty good. And even at this point it is worth making, but we can do better.
Pack it into a bowl, ziplock bag, or some kind of airtight container, including all the liquid from the pan. You want a container that will allow you to pack it all in and have the fats and liquid fill all in between, and let you make an airtight seal. Fats will pickup whatever flavors you have wandering around in your fridge, so please make sure this gets sealed.
Put it into your fridge over night. Yes, patience is called for. That’s why I often have a sandwich as soon as it’s done, but I know better is coming. Your patience will be rewarded.
When tomarrow comes around, heat up the Sausage with Bell Peppers and Onions, Confit. And put it on bread. And eat it. And eat some more. And show off to your friends how good it is, but never tell them how easy it is. Unless they ask, since recipes should be shared.