Recently we’ve been having the simplest sauce I know how to make: browned garlic butter. I realized it’s been a bit since I’ve posted, Tamara just did a recipe exchange post for sauces, and so lookie there…
As usual I have to talk a bit first. Here’s the thing: you have to think about the pasta you’re going to use. The reason is that the sauce is just butter and garlic. Thin and oily. If you put it on angel hair it’s mostly not going to stick.
I’m not usually fond of penne pasta, but my reasons for dislike happen to be the reason it’s my preference for this sauce. The pasta (unless massively overcooked) soaks up liquid. Every sauce I’ve ever made with penne has had to be thinned “or else.”
So the first thing you do is start your penne pasta going. After the water’s boiling it’s going to take 15 to 20 minutes to cook (depending on your taste). Time for the sauce.
For a pound of dried penne I’m going to use a stick (half cup) of butter and a head of garlic.
Yes, a head of garlic. Bust it open, peel it all, and coarsely chop. Save some time and use the Saveur technique for the peeling.
Anyway, melt your butter over low to medium heat. Add the chopped garlic once the butter is fully melted, then continue to cook over low to medium heat. You’re going for a slight browning of the butter; the garlic should be golden. Try to avoid deep brown. It works but it’s not as good. The good news is that at low heat the sauce should finish right about the same time as the pasta.
Drain the pasta and put it back in the pan, add the sauce, toss.
Notice that this is salt-free aka low-sodium. You can add salt if you wish. Me, I add a little grated parmesan or romano (or both), which has some salt already.
You can pretty this up by adding mushrooms or other veggies. Depending on whether I’m using fresh or canned mushrooms (Yes, I do go there) I’ll add it to the garlic butter near the end of the cooking window or the drained pasta. And sometimes I’ll toss in a bit of another spice – some basil or black pepper or such.
But that’s all variations on a tasty base. Garlic. Butter. Pasta. Add a nice side and have an outstanding little meal.