“When most of you think back to the nourishing food we were fed in our grandmas’ kitchen, there is a sense of curative simplicity,” writes chef Julia Jaksic in Jack’s Wife Freda: Cooking From New York’s West Village. The just-released cookbook is filled with all manner of simple, comforting recipes taken straight from the menu of Jack’s Wife Freda — an exemplary all-day bistro with two locations in Manhattan.
And no dish evokes simple comfort like a helmet-sized bowl of mac and cheese. But not the kind that comes from a cardboard box. Because there really is no excuse for a grown adult to make mac and cheese any other way than the right way: from scratch.
The recipe here — which includes jalapeños and a heavy helping of creamy gruyere cheese — is Jack’s Wife Freda’s more adult take on a childhood favorite. If you prefer more spice, they suggest adding additional raw sliced jalapeños to garnish before eating.
Jalapeno and Gruyère Pasta
Yields 4 to 6 portions
3 jalapeño chilies
8 garlic cloves
1 (16-ounce) box orecchiete
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄2 cup white wine
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) butter
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
¼ cup kosher salt
Slice the jalapeños into thin rounds and finely mince the garlic. Set aside the garlic and jalapeños. Bring f5 quarts water — salted to taste like the ocean! — to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 9 minutes (the instructions on most packages say 13 minutes, although the pasta will absorb more liquid later, so stick to 9 minutes to avoid overcooking). Before straining the pasta, reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.
In the same pot used for cooking the pasta, combine the olive oil, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to toast and the jalapeños soften. Add the white wine and butter. Once the butter has melted, return the pasta to the pot and stir. Add the shredded Gruyere cheese and reserved pasta water, a little at a time, until all the cheese has melted and the pasta appears creamy.
Note: You may not use all of the reserved pasta water. Serve immediately with thinly sliced, fresh jalapeños on top if desired.
From JACK’S WIFE FREDA: Cooking from New York’s West Village by Maya and Dean Jankelowitz. Recipes by Julia Jaksic. Published by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by NoamBennyLLC