Yep. A slam of the door. That was your wife…the joy of your life…who gave you no strife. Once upon a time. Now, she's left you. Well, look at the bright side for a second. She took those two pain-in-the-ass kids and that three-legged dachshund. The bitch! The dog, I mean, not your wife. Now, you have complete control of ESPN and Turner Classic Movies. But remember, you may be alone, but the trick is not being lonely. And the key to that is…cooking! Nothing says, "I'm here…I'm free…and, damnit, I'm ME" like cooking…what you want, when you want it, and how you want it. You don't know how, you ask? Well, that's what I'm here for. To show you how to cook, and cook well, and cook like a high-tone, cultured, civilized man.
Penne Rigate pasta
Crushed red pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Miniato Prosecco Di Capocollo 2004
First things first. Pour yourself two fingers of Jack. Four fingers are OK too, but remember, you need to read this. This can be a very anxiety-provoking, armpit-damp endeavor for the uninitiated and a couple of jolts of Jack will smooth you out enough so you won't really care how the damn thing turns out. While you're sipping, lay a bottle of the Prosecco in the freezer. Just long enough so that your tongue sticks to the bottle. Why that particular wine and vintner? The Prosecco grape and its sparkling progeny make a perfect accompaniment to this dish. The Miniato Prosecco has an austere dryness with undertones of kiwi, green apples, and unripened corn and just the perfect bouquet of Oriental sweetmeats.
With that task out of the way, fill a big pot with cold water, add a handful of salt, and set in on the stove to boil. Don't watch the pot now; it'll never boil. I'm assuming she didn't take the pots and pans with her, but you never know. You might be reading this standing up, in your underwear since everything else is in a U-Haul heading for Montana.
So, let's go on to the next event assuming you have kitchen paraphernalia. Get a large pan, probably the one she used to fling at you, and that'll be the one to which you'll add the rest of your ingredients. Under low heat, pour in a generous aliquot of the olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the best. Extra virgin…hmmm, if you're going to have triplets, are you extra pregnant. But I digress…
You don't want to get the oil too hot too fast or you'll be spending time in ICU sipping through a straw waiting for your eyebrows and epiglottis to grow back.
Into the oil, throw in a spoonful or two of the minced garlic. You notice I don't specify exact measurements. You decide. You're king. Put in as much garlic as you want. You're not getting laid any time soon. Live it up!
As you take a self-congratulatory swig of your Jack, check the pot. The water should be boiling by now. If so, dump in as much of the contents of a box of the pasta as you want. I like penne rigate for this because its ridges hold the oil so nicely, but you can use fettucini, rigatoni, or any other strangely-contorted noodle. Again, you're the boss. Caution though…once you drop in the pasta, the boiling will temporarily cease and the pasta will sink faster than a two-pound turd in the toilet. That's not good. You will have to stir the water to keep the pasta from sticking together - at least until the boiling recommences. There should be a big spoon or spatula in one of the kitchen drawers. I'm pretty sure she didn't snatch that too.
With the water bubbling faster than Kristin Chenoweth on crack, turn your attention to the pan. Add the rosemary, red pepper, and regular pepper and move it all around a little to keep it all from sticking. If your wife's name was Rosemary, you might get an added kick in throwing that eponymous herb into hot oil. But I digress again…you can add more oil if it doesn't look wet enough. Next, come the mushrooms. I like the hearty Portobello and shitake mushrooms because they have a definite flavor - woodsy and smoky. They certainly have more character than the wussy white button mushrooms your wife used to buy and stick into recipes.
Don't bother washing these mushrooms. Just clean off any macroscopic dirt particles and hurl them into the pan last. Not too violently. The splatter might result in third degree pock marks on your face and hands. Stir. Add more oil. If the mushrooms seem too large, you can tear them apart with your hands, but don't make the pieces too small. They tend to shrink -- quicker than your genitals in a snowstorm.
As that mélange of ingredients intermingles, test the pasta. Grab one with a fork or some such device. Wait till it cools off. No need to develop third degree burns of the mucosal surfaces of your mouth. You want the pasta "al dente." That's Italian for "to the teeth" meaning firm and chewy, kinda like your first "lay" in high school. But if you're edentulous, you'll want it "al gummo."
It will come to pass that at one moment in the vast continuum, your pasta will be reaching its perfect consistency as your mushrooms will be melding with the spicy, herbal, and lugubrious liquid from your recipe. Have another swig.
Now a marriage is about to take place - one a helluva lot more satisfying than what you had. Take the pasta off the stove and dump it into a colander. Wet it with cool tap water or wine to stop the cooking process and to prevent sticking. Then dump it in a big dishbowl. Next, gently scoop up the mushrooms and plop them onto the pasta and slowly pour the oil, rosemary, garlic and such over the whole dish. Toss carefully. Finish your Jack. Sprinkle on some Parmigian cheese.
Take your masterpiece to the candle-lit table. Open the bottle of Prosecco. Pour yourself a glass and salute yourself. You deserve it and to hell with the bitch! Your wife…not the three-legged dachshund.