Pasta

Champagne Pasta Is Exactly How We're Spending Our New Year's Eve

When your couch is better than a club.

December 26, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

It only took a few years of going out with friends to an expensive, crowded bar in New York City, waiting for the moment to scream “5-4-3-2-1,” to convince me that I'd much rather stay in for New Year's Eve. It's less expensive, and involves a lot less planning.

But even if I'm staying in, the last few moments of the year deserve celebration, too. This year, I'm planning on welcoming 2019 with something that makes me feel happy—a big bowl of creamy pasta. And of course some champagne. Yep, my Champagne Alfredo with Crispy Prosciutto and Shrimp is exactly how I plan to spend New Year's Eve. And here's how you can, too.

Before you bundle up in your abode, pick up a nice bottle of bubbly. Since you're drinking and cooking with it, buy a bottle that’s extra dry and mildly acidic—nothing too fruity. And make sure you buy actual Champagne; I love sparkling wines and Prosecco, as well, but they tend to be a little too sweet for this dish. (Heads up: You’ll need one cup of champagne to cook with, roughly 1/3 of the bottle, so plan accordingly.)

Once you’ve popped the cork and poured yourself a glass (cheers!), bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. While your pasta cooks, you'll make the sauce. Start by sautéing some shallots and garlic in a little butter. Once cooked, add a cup of Champagne to deglaze the pan and bring everything to a boil. You want to make sure you cook out the alcohol taste so that the Champagne aroma develops. Give it few minutes to boil.

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“Unless your pasta water is thicker than your sauce, it won't thicken it.”
— Smaug
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Next, add some heavy cream and a ladle of cooking water from the boiling pasta. Sure, the Champagne adds a pop to the dish, but starchy water is your magical ingredient. It not only seasons and thickens the sauce, but also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. After the sauce thickens, add the pasta, toss to coat, and remove it from the heat. Then, add parmesan cheese and toss until the sauce becomes smooth and creamy.

You can serve this dish a few different ways. I like to nestle some shrimp on top, which I sauté in the pan before making the sauce to cut down on dishes to wash. For a salty bite and crunchy texture, I crumble a piece of crispy baked prosciutto over top of pasta. Lobster works well, too—just roughly chop some pre-cooked lobster meat and add it directly to the sauce. If you feel like extra-special treat (it is New Year’s Eve, after all) freshly grated white truffle would be straight up garnish goals.

Whether you spend your evening watching the ball drop, stream one of your favorite movies, or quietly reflect on the past year, know that you don’t have to follow the crowd to celebrate. A big bowl of pasta and treating yourself sounds like an amazing way to kick off 2019.

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Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, NYT Cooking and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.

4 Comments

Smaug December 26, 2018
Unless your pasta water is thicker than your sauce, it won't thicken it.
 
Clark December 28, 2018
Pasta water is a traditional and common way to add body to a sauce dueto the startch it contains...the author gives a wonderfully succint description of what it does to a sauce.
 
Smaug December 28, 2018
Pasta water is an old myth. It is traditionally used to thin sauces because it's convenient and hot and cooks have always hated waste. If it had enough starch to thicken the sauce it would thicken itself, what it does is add random amounts of salt, starch and maybe oil or other pasta flavorants. Possibly in a restaurant that used the same water to boil numerous batches of pasta, it might become strong enough to have a palpable effect, but why cede control of the dish? If you want to use starch to thicken your sauce- a barbaric practice for a tomato sauce- there are far more controlled and effective ways to do it.
 
BerryBaby December 28, 2018
It sounds delicious!
My two cents, I would think it's the cream adding thickness. I have to agree with Smaug (and speaking from my experiences) I use a ladle of pasta water to thin sauce. Happy New Year!
BB🎉