Ghost Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo

Spicy and yet refined, this Ghost Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo recipe is addictively tasty, turns up the heat, and lets the virtue of the pepper shine.

Ghost Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo by cakewalkr.com

 The Fruit Before The Fire

It began with jalapenos―poppers I think it was, served longer than 15 years ago at the Ocean Avenue Brewery in Laguna Beach. These bad boys were housemade using fresh chiles filled with cream cheese, lightly breaded, and then flash fried to a crispy golden exterior. Upon first bite you know the pepper membranes (white pith) were left intact to deliver their radiant heat. They delivered, and I was captivated.

Fast forward to recent years where kitchen play produced dishes using Serrano, cayenne and Thai chiles; I use them in salsas, chili, curries, and I even add them to cakes and candy. I knew I was entering chilehead realm when I planted my first habanero peppers in the garden.

As temps warmed up this past spring, imagine my delight to see last year’s ghost pepper plant had made it through winter! I must have found a microclimate in the yard where the potted cultivar was placed, because in Northern California, we typically consider these as annuals for they rarely make it through our hard freezes. This season’s fruit has been prolific, producing large red beauties.

 

A photo posted by Brooks Walker (@cakewalkr) on

 Also called bhut jolokia, this ghost pepper from last year came back with a vengeance. Look at the splendid first harvest a few weeks back! The remaining peppers on the plant have since been dried and powdered.

Hot peppers are fabulous. Each variety has a heat level and its own flavor. Yes, the flavor profiles share some similarities, but a discerning palate knows the essence of each pepper―a unique fruity quality. At this writing, the ghost pepper is third in line to the hottest pepper claim. This former champion is now behind the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, and the Carolina Reaper at number one.

Capsaicin is the compound which gives hot peppers their fiery nature. It may surprise you to know this substance has a famous cousin called vanillin found in vanilla beans, which when cured produces the heady aroma and luxurious flavor we’ve come to adore. Capsaicin is not cool water soluble. Have you tried to tame a burning mouth with a glass of water after munching a hot pepper? No can do. Alcohol is one remedy rendering solubility to capsaicin with cold beer being a preference. Remember the aforementioned brew pub? The caveat, though, is the low alcohol content of beer won’t wash a lot of the compound away. A better choice is casein from dairy products like milk and cream. Next time the searing sensation on your tongue or in the throat becomes too much to bear, have a glass of moo juice at the ready.

Today I share a recipe showcasing the bhut jolokia pepper presented in Fettuccine Alfredo. I chose the cream-based dish for its slight casein disarming properties, slight because the pepper is added at the very end prior to consumption, the casein having little time to tame the flame. What results is the ability to taste the ghost pepper’s special flavor―the fruit before the fire if you will. Granted, you’ll have a little more than a millisecond to decipher its uniqueness, but it’s there for you to enjoy. There are serious considerations in using super hots so be sure to see the notes below.

 

Ghost Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo from cakewalkr.comRecipe adapted from Lidia Bastianich

Ghost Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ghost Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo

Spicy and yet refined, this Ghost Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo recipe is addictively tasty, turns up the heat, and lets the virtue of the pepper shine.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cooking water
  • 1 pound dried fettuccine
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 to 4 fresh ghost peppers, seeded and minced
  • ½ cup grated Grana Padano, divided (or Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • Optional garnish:
  • Fresh minced flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley)

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. When you are ready to begin the sauce, gently add the fettuccine into the water; stir occasionally.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the heavy cream, 1 cup pasta cooking water, the butter, and half of the grated cheese. Stir to melt the butter and bring to just a simmer. Let the cream mixture simmer lightly for couple of minutes.
  • When the fettuccine is al dente (according to package directions), quickly strain the pasta from the water and transfer it directly to the skillet with the simmering sauce. Season the fettuccine with the salt and return to a simmer. Simmer the mixture, tossing with tongs, until the sauce begins to coat the pasta―another minute or two. Add the ghost pepper; quickly stir to combine. Remove from heat, sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese, and toss. Serve immediately and garnish with parsley if desired.

Notes

Important: Regardless of a pepper’s heat score, the super hots should be treated with respect and handled accordingly. Capsaicin prompts major irritation to moist tissue and mucous membranes in the eyes, nose (which includes inhaling raw, airborne vapors) throat, and private parts. Please wear protective gloves when cutting and handling ghost peppers. Discard stems and seeds if not using directly in the trash can; putting them into a sink disposer may activate vapors once the remnants are hit with warm water. Remove the trash bag to an outdoor can for added safety. Let the automatic dishwasher clean the cutting boards, wash hands and knives with a grease-fighting liquid dish soap and warm water (the fiery compound is fat soluble so the grease-fighting agents of liquid soap helps to get the job done); rinse thoroughly.

Figure to use about one medium-sized ghost pepper (minced) per person; 3 peppers might be adequate for four servings, but go no more than 4 peppers if serving six people.

The sauce may seem thin, initially, but pull the pan off the heat once it begins to adhere to the pasta and proceed―the sauce thickens fairly quickly when the remainder of grated cheese is added and as it cools down. If the sauce loses its viscosity, and congeals too much while the pasta is simmering in it, or once it's removed from the heat, add a splash or two of the cooking water and stir it in to thin it out.

If you're like me and it's available, a little extra sprinkle of grated cheese on top is always welcome.

http://cakewalkr.com/ghost-pepper-fettuccine-alfredo/

 

Ghost Pepper Fettucine Alfredo by Cakewalker

For more fiery fare, check out these cupcakes and this candy. Cheers!

Comments

  1. Ooh, I’m intrigued! I haven’t tasted ghost peppers before—but not sure if the rest of the family would be so thrilled with their fiery heat 🙂 If I happen to run across any at our farmers’ market, I may have to add a wee bit just to my serving. It’s been way too long since I’ve made fettuccine alfredo 🙂

    • Brooks Walker says:

      You’ve got this dialed in. Liz. I serve the kid’s portions first, and then quickly stir in the peppers for the adults. Do give it a try!

  2. I PLANTED A GHOST PEPPER A COUPLE YEARS AGO. I HAD ONE GREAT SUMMER OF HEAT (SO TO SPEAK), BUT IT DIED DURING OUR MILD SO CAL WINTER. I GUESS I FOUND EXACTLY THE WRONG MICRO-CLIMATE! (SORRY FOR THE CAPS, I’M TRAVELING AND LACKING MY USUAL TECH TOOLS). GREG

  3. Love spicy stuff! So this dish has my name on it. 😉 Usually don’t use hot peppers in pasta for some reason — I can’t imagine why not. Definitely will be trying this — thanks!

  4. Oh my word, that would be hot!!

  5. Now this is a dish I can totally get into, I just adore the flavours and fiery sensation of hot peppers, sadly my better half can only stand some of the heat. The dish is seriously gorgeous, Brooks. It’s nice that these peppers grow in your area, I’m afraid our frost would be much too hard for them to bear. I learned the hard way to use gloves when cutting peppers, that was unpleasant.

    • Brooks Walker says:

      Thank you for the compliment, Eva! Glad to know I can count you as a fellow chilehead. 🙂

  6. Love this one, Brooks, would make it today if I wasn’t so hot! I don’t care much for milk, so I’d keep a few crackers spread with cream cheese on standby to cool my mouth.

  7. You picked the perfect medium for showcasing these peppers without killing folks outright! Looks wonderful! I’m a bit of a heat wuss, although I do love the fruitiness of hot peppers. I will have to tread lightly here, but I do want to try this!

    • Brooks Walker says:

      You’ll enjoy this dish, my friend. It’s always a pleasure to have you here, thanks for stopping by!

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