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The Pregame Meal


PASabreFan

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I know we've had food/cooking threads and discussions over the years.

I wanted to resurrect the old thread to get some advice on making a basic but classic Italian pasta dish called aglio e olio. Figure I would just start a new thread and let it grow from here.

What better way to start on a hockey board than with a pasta dish?

I've made some version of aglio e olio (garlic and oil), but it never was that great. I watched videos and learned about adding the pasta water to create an emulsion with the EVOO.

Still meh.

Here is my starting point and let's see if we can make it actually taste good:

* I thinly sliced four large cloves of garlic. A lot of the bunches at the store were sprouting but I picked one that wasn't. No idea if my choice was old or if old is good or bad.

* I heated up a copious amount of pretty expensive EVOO (Botticelli), careful not to get the oil too hot.

* I added the garlic along with a pinch of red pepper flakes. I then added a tablespoon of chopped jarred garlic.

* I had Barilla bucatini pasta cooking in a large pot of lightly salted water. 

* I was watching to make sure the garlic didn't burn. I think I jumped the gun on adding the pasta water (about halfway through the pasta cooking time). The garlic wasn't even golden brown. I added one ladle then maybe that much later on.

* I added fine black pepper, a small amount of salt and some dried parsley. The sauce started to look good. It got thicker.

* I added the al dente pasta right from the pot to the pan and mixed it in and let it cook a few more minutes. The sauce reduced more.

I mean, it was good. But it somehow lacked the garlic flavor I was looking for. The slices were big and I'd find some every third bite. With the pasta being so thick it just didn't come together cohesively. I ate all of it. The garlic finally came through about 1 a.m.

Help me. This is missing something. And don't say anchovies.

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I’ve never made aglio e olio, but I trust America’s Test Kitchen to come up with a good version of it.  I know they’ve done this dish on their youtube channel.  Take a look and see if you get anything out of it.

 

 

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I hate giving advice because what you describe sounds delicious but I think you need more salt, and you need to wait until the pasta is actually cooked before adding the water to the “sauce.” That pasta water is a big part of the flavor and I think that what was lacking because it wasn’t salty or starchy enough when you built the sauce. 

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17 minutes ago, HoosierDaddy said:

I hate giving advice because what you describe sounds delicious but I think you need more salt, and you need to wait until the pasta is actually cooked before adding the water to the “sauce.” That pasta water is a big part of the flavor and I think that what was lacking because it wasn’t salty or starchy enough when you built the sauce. 

I agree on both counts.

So more salt in the pasta water? And more in the sauce?

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1 minute ago, PASabreFan said:

I agree on both counts.

So more salt in the pasta water? And more in the sauce?

And time it so that the pasta cooks all the way in the water before adding it. It’s like a noodle broth. In fact, put the pasta in the pan with the garlic and oil and then add water to create the sauce. That way you can feel out how much water to put. When you get it right, it should be almost creamy. FWIW, this is my favorite thing to cook when I need something quick so I make it a lot.

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37 minutes ago, HoosierDaddy said:

I hate giving advice because what you describe sounds delicious but I think you need more salt, and you need to wait until the pasta is actually cooked before adding the water to the “sauce.” That pasta water is a big part of the flavor and I think that what was lacking because it wasn’t salty or starchy enough when you built the sauce. 

This ^.   I would wait on the water until the pasta is almost ready to get all the starchiness into the sauce, just add the water once, if not enough you can add more once the pasta is in the oil/garlic.   

I would use more fresh garlic for the chopped, and no jarred garlic if you have fresh in the house!  For the garlic slices, thinner is better.   Paulie's system might be overkill, maybe slightly thicker?  

 

Maybe more salt.  Definitely use fresh parsley, chop it fine, chop it yourself.  The dry parsley tastes like nothing, it just adds nice  looking green flecks.  

There is no one exact right way to cook Italian food. It is more about using he best ingredients you can find,  and you can modify to your tastes.  

Good background music while cooking is a must.  

Edited by Pimlach
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I would consider making a garlic infused olive oil, get a ball jar and put some good quality oil in it, a little sliced garlic in halves and let it sit for a bit. Using this will certainly infuse the dish along with the fresh garlic you're using. 

 

I make all kinds of infused Balsamic and EVOO concoctions and they take the dish up a notch. 

 

I also agree that the pasta water is absolutley last in the dish otherwise you're washin the flavor out of the noodles instead of cooking into the surface of them.

Edited by Wyldnwoody44
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24 minutes ago, Wyldnwoody44 said:

I would consider making a garlic infused olive oil, get a ball jar and put some good quality oil in it, a little sliced garlic in halves and let it sit for a bit. Using this will certainly infuse the dish along with the fresh garlic you're using. 

 

I make all kinds of infused Balsamic and EVOO concoctions and they take the dish up a notch. 

 

I also agree that the pasta water is absolutley last in the dish otherwise you're washin the flavor out of the noodles instead of cooking into the surface of them.

I saw garlic infused EVOO. I am waiting to hear back from my credit union to see if my GIEVOO loan is approved. It was $24 I think.

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We make this all the time. Had it Saturday night, in fact. Didn't know it had a real name. We just call it "The Oily". I like aglio e olio better, even though that's probably just the oily in Italian.

We usually cook down some spinach in the pan once the garlic browns.

Edited by SwampD
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Great thread.

One thing I didn't see mentioned upthread -- if you're looking for more garlic punch -- you should consider adding some later in the cooking process. The sauteing (sp?) to which you're referring (which sounds lovely btw) is mellowing the garlic. If you want some of that vampire-repelling kick (say it with me: HI, MY NAME'S HARVEY, FROM HOUSTON), I think some less-cooked fresh chopped garlic would help.

And as others have noted: Salting to taste will help everything else pop.

Shoutout the spinach suggestion from @SwampD. That sounds fantastic. (If working with frozen, just make sure to wring it out well with a tea towel. I love working with the fresh stuff because it's like, "holy crap, I need a larger kitchen just to accommodate all this leafy green goodness," and then, put it in the heated mix and BAM, it's reduced to like a cup.)

Finally, this dish does not appear compliant with the life changing dietary path illuminated by @matter2003. Govern yourself accordingly. (Which mostly means: Keep your shirt on at the beach.)

Edited by That Aud Smell
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47 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

May God protect me...

Garlic powder?

Angel hair pasta?

We usually use angel hair.

I have a friend who grows garlic and makes his own powder. It is amazing. I strongly suggest going to the local farmers market to get the garlic. It's just better.

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I use a cheese grater on my garlic and sauté it in a quality olive oil.  My brother graduated from the Culinary Institute many years ago and told me then “you can’t use too much garlic - won’t ruin anything”.  So I do use a lot. My ex MIL used a ton of garlic and her sauces were wonderful.

 

 I also add olive oil to the water I boil pasta in. 

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I’ve heard several chefs say to use regular olive oil for cooking because of the higher smoke point as the flavor holds up much better and that extra virgin should be used for dressings, etc. 

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15 minutes ago, K-9 said:

I’ve heard several chefs say to use regular olive oil for cooking because of the higher smoke point as the flavor holds up much better and that extra virgin should be used for dressings, etc. 

I will second this. The move might be to give the prepared dish a drizzle with the good stuff.

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So many possibilities here.

First off, if the goal is garlic taste, you need to up the garlic.

Second, you should consider pre-baking a bulb of garlic and then pressing the garlic goo into the sauteuse after pouring in the oil.

Brown = flavour. If your garlic wasn't brown you haven't released that flavour, distinct from the kind of flavour adding minced raw garlic at the end as per @That Aud Smell's suggestion - which is a good suggestion if you want a very sophisticated garlic taste.

Whoever said salt above is correct - there must be enough salt.

Your nose knows: if it ain't curling your toes the right way before adding the noodles and the water, it ain't ready, or right, or both.

Looks like you added double the amount of pasta water that was needed. You don't use a lot. Obviously, too much will water down the flavour you worked so hard to build up.

"Copious amounts of EVOO" are not your friend when sauteing. Using a lot of oil means you then must effectively deep-fry the garlic to get the garlic where you want it. Try using just enough at first to actually caramelize the garlic, or better yet, do that first with butter.

Don't hesitate to caramelize some minced onions and/or shallots along with the garlic to really add depth to your flavour - not in equal amounts, but just a little to kick it up a notch.

Try. Fail. Try again. Fail again, but fail better.

 

Edited by ...
mmm, so good
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On 6/24/2024 at 11:32 AM, Wyldnwoody44 said:

I would consider making a garlic infused olive oil, get a ball jar and put some good quality oil in it, a little sliced garlic in halves and let it sit for a bit. Using this will certainly infuse the dish along with the fresh garlic you're using. 

 

I make all kinds of infused Balsamic and EVOO concoctions and they take the dish up a notch. 

 

I also agree that the pasta water is absolutley last in the dish otherwise you're washin the flavor out of the noodles instead of cooking into the surface of them.

Love infused olive oils, I use old bourbon bottles like Eagle Rare or Makers 46 and stuff them with garlic or tuscan stuff like rosemary, basil, oregano etc... 

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