Marco Pierre White on why overcooking pasta is a culinary crime.
Marco Pierre White: Tagliolini with prawns
I just cannot get enough of pasta. And this is one of the best recipes I know. In fact it doesn't even matter if you don't like prawns, you can pick them out. This is on a level with my favourite pasta sauce of all time, which I ate many years ago in Rome, in a restaurant called Alfredo's. It is still there, in the Piazza Augusto Imperatore if you happen to be in the eternal city, although there are arguments among the cognoscenti about another Alfredo's, who some maintain is the real one. In Italy there is often a thin line between truth and falsehood. They even have two expressions for the truth: la verità and la verità vera - in other words, the truth and the real truth. So if you can, try to find the vero Alfredo's and enjoy Alfredo di Lelio's eponymous dish "Pasta Alfredo", which is made from fettuccine, butter, and Parmesan and was invented by the great man in 1914.
The dish I am touting today of course is different; there are the prawns, for a start. Now, don't worry about doing all those fiddly bits with your prawns, you can just get the nice lady or man wherever you buy them to do all that. Order them at the beginning of your shop and pick them up at the end (they take an age to do). In my view, there are many pleasures associated with cooking, but dissecting a bagful of prawns is not one of them.
And, as always, remember not to overcook the pasta. It's amazing how boiled-to-death pasta even kills the taste of whatever sauce it is served with. And custom dictates that with any kind of seafood pasta, you should not serve Parmesan. Well, all'inferno with custom; I'm the dictator here, if you like a bit of Parmesan, dear reader, then slap it on!
MAKE IT YOURSELF
Tagliolini with prawns
100g onion, finely chopped
10g crushed garlic
40ml extra virgin olive oil
500g prawn tails, peeled, deveined and cut in half from head to tail
540g plum tomatoes
640g dry tagliolini pasta
80g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
40g basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes
1. In a large pan on medium heat, sweat the onion, garlic and chilli in 30ml of olive oil until cooked without colour.
2. Add the prawns and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season to taste.
3. Cook the tagliolini in salted boiling water until al dente, 5-6 minutes.
4. Strain pasta and add to the sauce.
5. Cook for 1-2 minutes, adding a touch of pasta water if the sauce and the pasta get too dry.
6. Place in a deep pasta bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley, basil and chilli flakes, drizzle with the rest of olive oil and stir until smooth and creamy.
This dish is offered at Frankie's Restaurant & Bar, which features Friday Brunch alongside CuiScene restaurant. Call 02 654 3238 or email email@example.com