This is my plate of makarOnia me kaftO vOUtiro that I made last night. Well, I must confess… I didn’t eat the entire plate. And, I had to make a separate version for JJ, but more about that later.
All this to say – this is, in my estimation, the best “less than 30 minute” recipe that one can have in their arsenal. So, I’d like to share it with you. I don’t want to turn you off, but the Greek literal translation is “macaroni with burnt butter”. However, read on… if you like butter and cheese, you’ll love this. And it’s quick and cheap.
1. Get out your favourite Greek cooking beverage before you start, as you might get thirsty. Here are my recommendations:
Lux orangeade and/or Lux sour cherry pop. However, you can divert from this instruction and pick your own beverage, such as this one:
2. Put on a large pot to boil water for pasta, then find your pasta:
(Note: you don’t need this yuppified pasta to make the recipe with success. However, as much as I rail against consumerism, I do love my Italian pasta. This one is called “spaghetti alla chitarra”, meaning “spaghetti guitar-style” – meaning that it was double length spaghetti and was bent in the bottom of the package. I, of course, broke it in half. Go figure.)
For this purpose, use 250g (just under 8 oz) for two people or 500 g (just over a pound) for four.
3. When you have put your pasta in the boiling water (with lots of salt, and without any oil – you don’t need oil in the boiling water as long as you give the pasta a good stir while it is still boiling), get out 1/2 pound of butter (or 1/4 pound if you are making the recipe for two people).
You can use either salted or unsalted butter – but if you’re not a salt addict like me, think about buying the unsalted.
Put the butter in a heavy saucepan as you see above, on low.
4. Grate some cheese to put on the pasta.
You can use any grating cheese for this, to your taste – parmesan, romano, etc. However, if you want to be authentically Greek, try to get your hands on some dry mizithra.
You can find this at most Greek stores, and I imagine you could find something similar at any Middle Eastern shop. It is a dry version of ricotta cheese made with sheep’s milk. The closest easily available equivalent is romano cheese, but romano is a bit more tangy tasting. Still guid, though.
Anyway, grate up a bunch of your cheese – this is about the right amount:
Let’s say 120 g/4 oz worth.
5. By the time you’ve grated your cheese, the butter should be getting along. It takes about 10 minutes over low heat to get to the “burnt” stage. First, it will start foaming and look like this:
Then, it will start even more foam and look something like this.
Don’t get scared – let it foam. It needs to start looking something like this in order to be ready:
When you see the browned bits start to appear at the top with heavy foam, take it off the heat.
6. Drain your pasta (which, by now, has cooked). Put a bunch of the cheese on the bottom of a big serving plate. Grate some nutmeg over it:
…not very much, four or five gratings worth will do. Put some of your hot pasta over all of that. Repeat cheese/nutmeg/pasta until you’ve run out.
7. Pour over all of the brown butter, mix a bit and serve. Make sure you have some of this on the side, though:
Easy as pie!!!
Except, of course, that JJ had to complicate my recipe because today one of his girlfriends on the Food Network did spaghetti with burnt butter and a twist:
That recipe also included this:
… and this was the end result:
Not too bad either, if you can ignore the baguette buttered with margarine on the side (this being a very odd household, I bring in butter as needed and typically only for burnt butter spaghetti!)
The recipe for the variation:
– 4 T burned butter, as above.
– 1 heaping T balsamic vinegar.
– parmesan cheese to taste.
It was also quite lovely, I must admit. However, being Greek, only the original spaghetti with burnt butter recipe will do.
Anyway, try either of the recipes. You won’t regret it. I’ve put many people here onto the Greek burnt butter one and they have cursed me afterward because they are now eating too much. Always a good sign for a little Greek Canajan like me!