This pasta is our version of a spicy, grown-up mac and cheese! Jalapeños can have different levels of heat but cooking them will mellow the flavor a bit. If you prefer more spice, add additional raw sliced jalapenos to garnish before eating.
3 jalapeños 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 Gruyère cheese
¼ cup kosher salt
Slice the jalapenos across into thin rounds and finely mince the garlic. Set aside the garlic and jalapenos. Bring 5 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 jalapenos. Cook over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to toast and the jalapenos 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 jalapenos 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