Thursday, April 12, 2007

Trompe la bouche

I had pasta for lunch yesterday. And a little red wine from a box.

You start by peeling a medium-sized onion. Then cut it in half, lengthwise. Then slice each half onion crosswise, creating about 120 half-moon onion strips, each about 1/4" wide.

Saute the onions til done but firm. I like to put salt and pepper on my onions because I don't know about where you come from but around here, the onions don't come already seasoned.

Then toss in whatever version of Paul Newman's red sauce you like best. Then mix, using that scoop/toss method that real chefs use (but which can be tricky with a wet sauce).

Then toss in the pasta. Presumably you've been cooking it all this time. It should be done but firm. Mix again.

Then toss in some grated cheese. Mix again.

And now, the secret: let it all just sit there for five minutes. It's amazing how much better the dish is if the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce. Likewise, the pungency of the cheese is significantly more pronounced after the wait. Really, it's like eating a really dirty, sweaty foot--the cheese becomes that pungent.

And the really fun part? First check out the progression below, then we'll get to the fun part.

Quick note: it was Lydia Bastianich who told me about the letting it sit for five minutes part. I don't remember, however, if covering it is a good idea or not.

Back to the fun part, which is this: If you have sliced your onions correctly, they are, when covered with red sauce, indistinguishable from the fettucini that's also floating around. So you are never quite sure what you're slamming into the old hopper.

The French for this is trompe la bouche--a term I just coined. It means "fooling the mouth."


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