As with professional cycling, when cooking capellini every second counts. Minutes can spell disaster. That’s why I’m a proud advocate of doping. No, not for cyclists (Lance), but for pasta chefs. My dopes of choice are espresso and wine. In order to properly mask the ingestion, one needs to drip slowly and carefully. Start in the morning when no one is around with a little pot of espresso. You’ll get just enough juice to think about a visit to the market and friends, family and food. Be careful though because with even a tad too much espresso, no one will want to be near you. When you come home and are ready to cook, put on a little music and pour yourself a glass of wine. Skill and caution are again required with this stuff, as you’ll be handling sharp knives and boiling water. And more important, remember that too much wine always leads to overcooked pasta, which like cheating, is for losers (and for toothless children and geriatrics) … whereas pasta al dente is for toothy champions.
It takes years to master the art of doping, but the benefits are truly worthwhile. Just find your limits and don’t try to deny it, especially if you do it around friends.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, wash and pat dry the basil leaves and gently tear them into large pieces. Place the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the basil and some salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta until al dente (a little less than the package instructions). Drain the pasta, but retain some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the skillet with the butter and basil and mix together over medium heat for a few seconds. If it seems dry, add some of the cooking water. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmigiano.
Because different brands of pasta cook up to different volumes, you may need to add more butter or olive oil to the pasta once it is dressed.