Spaghetti and other types of pasta were introduced in Mexico in the mid 1800s, where they were a dish reserved for the aristocrat classes of the time. Today, even though several types of pastas are available everywhere in Mexico, it is still not a meal that we see cooks prepare on a regular basis (the exceptions are fideos and the other pastas used to prepare soups common for midday meals). Instead, pasta dishes, such as this recipe for spaghetti with cream, are often reserved for special occasions (christenings, weddings, birthdays, etc.), usually on a menu that has many elaborated and sometimes non-traditional dishes. Pastas, whether dried or fresh, are more commonly found in the stores of urban neighborhoods. Spaghetti with cream is also very popular as a side dish for Christmas and New Year’s dinner.
This recipe is very simple, and uses Mexican ingredients, because you know we love doing things "A la Mexicana". Some will recognize this recipe as the Mexican counterpart of the famous Italian "Alfredo" pasta.
There are many recipes for this “Pasta a la Crema”, with only a few variations that have been passed down from moms to daughters at the dinner table, from one generation to another.
- ½ Pkg Barilla®Spaghetti 8 oz)
- ¼ small white onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons butter (1 Tbsp. extra if baking the pasta)
- 1 cup baked ham cut in small cubes* (4 ½ oz)
- ½ cup Mexican Cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup Monterrey Jack Cheese**
· *Buy the ham at the deli counter and ask for a 1/3 inch thick slice.
· ** The recipe traditionally use Chihuahua cheese but it is not easily available outside Mexico. You can also use a mild white cheddar cheese besides Monterrey Jack. I found the Barilla®Spaghetti and the rest of the ingredients at my local Walmart store.
· Some cooks like to bake the pasta in the oven; here I am giving you the option of baking it or not.
1. Fill a large pot with water, add the onion and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and add the spaghetti. Stir often to help keep it from sticking. Cook for 9 minutes.
2. Just before the spaghetti is done, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the ham and cream and cook for a couple of minutes just enough to warm them up.
3. Once pasta is ready, drain, discard onion and bay leave. Then add to the saucepan with the ham and cream mixture tossing to coat evenly. (If the pasta is too dry for your taste add a couple of war milk and mix.) Season with salt and pepper. At this point you can stir in the cheese to melt and serve or if you want to bake it proceed to step.
4. Preheat oven to 350F, and butter a 9 by 6-IN baking dish.
5. Mix ½ of the cheese with the spaghetti, stir to combine, then transfer to the baking dish and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
6. Bake for 10 minutes to melt the cheese. To serve garnish with chopped parsley. You will really love this one!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Barilla. The opinions and text are all mine.