Many Italians maintain no sauce can match the simple goodness of butter and freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan). This is my husband’s own version, to which he has added a little cream.
Simple as the dish appears to be, it has its secrets. One is the sequence in which the ingredients are added to the pasta. Another is the manner in which the pasta is tossed. The basic principle of this sauce is that the cheese must melt in contact with the pasta and coat it. Thus it is added first, while the pasta is steaming hot. You begin to add butter when you see that cheese is coating every strand of spaghetti or every rigatoni. At the end, my husband, who allows no one else to prepare this dish, tosses the pasta with cream to bind all the components smoothly.
Cook the pasta to a firmer consistency than you would ordinarily, because it will continue to cook a little more as you toss it in the hot bowl. Make sure you follow the recipe’s directions for preheating the bowl. If it isn’t hot, the pasta will cool too rapidly and the cheese won’t melt satisfactorily.
© 1986 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.