Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fettucini Alfredo for 33

Our villa on Blowing Point comes equipped with a grill. It looks like a big oxygen tank with legs, something homemade. But driving around the island, I've noticed more just like it. So it must be the preferred design.

My host family has been pressing for some barbecue and I had been balking at the idea of standing out in the rather intense heat and humidity, which lets up not very much at all even in the breeze. Among the foods the family brought frozen to the island were about three dozen individual fillets mignon wrapped with bacon. I had these defrosting in the refrigerator designated for Tuesday dinner. But the host thought they were on the small side.

"Can we make another side dish," she asked.

For some reason, fettucine Alfredo just popped out of my mouth. I had no idea if I'd find the ingredients. But in my foraging through "The Valley"--basically the closest thing to a "downtown" on Anguilla--I located the new Albert's supermarket. Really, a huge place. It could pass for a supermarket in the States. Except for the typically small selection of produce and fresh meats.

I have an instant theory that things that don't sell very well up north find their way to the store shelves down here. For instance, every kind of sausage and prepared meant--or so it seems--is made from turkey. Turkey salami, turkey Kielbasa, turkey pastrami.

What Albert's does have is a wide selection of pasta, including fettucini, as well as heavy cream by the quart and butter in one-pound bricks. No fresh parmesan, sadly. Just the bottles of grated cheese.

So here's what happened. I fired up the grill and gave the fillets, still partially frozen, a good sear to mark them. I set those aside and boiled three pounds of fettucine. These I chilled in a water bath, then drained and oiled lightly. We had several loaves of leftover bread. I turned these into some garlicky croutons for a Caesar salad (Albert's had the dressing in jars). I sauteed a head of garlic in nearly a pound of butter, poured in a quart of cream, about a pound of frozen peas and an 8-ounce bottle of parmesan for the Alfredo sauce.

All of this was waiting for the appointed dinner hour. No cooking a la minute around here. Around 5 pm I turned on the two ovens, one to warm the noodles and some Idaho potatoes I had baked earlier. The second over was set to 350 degrees to finish the steaks.

At 6 pm, with very little effort, we established a buffet with a chopping block groaning with steaks cooked medium-rare, the baked potatoes with sour cream, a big pan of Fettucine and a Caesar salad.

That meal, ladies and gentleman, was something to be hold. When I next came to the dinner table, I was greeted with applause.

Damn, we are good sometimes...

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