The Untouchable Spaghetti Night (#81)

Our July movie was The Untouchables. This film is about Al Capone and the team that fought to take him down. The theme for this one basically writes itself. I decided that we would make Italian food and prohibition era cocktails. While researching for this film, I discovered that Al Capone was apparently a bit of a foodie. It's said that he could frequently be found in the kitchen, wine glass in hand, stirring a pot of pasta.

When he was arrested, several of his own secret recipes were uncovered, include the recipe for Spaghetti With Walnut Sauce, which is believed to be his favorite dish. Now I found a few different recipes online that all claimed to be this dish. The one I went with came from here. Between all the different versions I found, this one seemed to me to be the most authentic, in my opinion. I am including the recipe below, summarized with my personal notes.

Al Capone's Spaghetti With Walnut Sauce

This spaghetti dish is surprising simple. In lieu of tomato sauce, the pasta is coated in an olive oil based sauce seasoned primarily with garlic and walnuts. Because of the simple nature of this dish, it's important to use quality ingredients. Substituting the olive oil for a less expensive version or swapping fresh garlic for minced garlic or garlic powder is going to affect the flavor. This dish is vegetarian by nature and also vegan if you don't top it with parmesan.

Ingredients: (Feeds 5 to 6)
1 pound dried organic, slow-dried spaghetti (Don't use thin spaghetti. You want a thicker noodle.)
1 1/2 cups of organic, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
6 large cloves of fresh garlic
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup freshly chopped organic Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

Optional toppings:
fresh organic cherry tomatoes
grated parmesan 
salt & pepper

  1. Put a pot of water on high following the packaged pasta instructions. Do not add oil and salt to the pasta water like you might typically do with a pasta dish. The noodles need to be starchy for the sauce to bind to them later on and that would compromise that.
  2. In a large frying pan or wok, place your olive oil and set the temperature to low. When you heat up olive oil it loses its fresh flavor and for this dish, that flavor profile is important so you need to keep the temperature low throughout the cooking process.
  3. While you are waiting for the water to boil, use a food processor to finely chop the garlic and walnuts.
  4. Add the chopped garlic and walnuts to the olive oil and stir regularly with a wooden utensil. While stirring, if you see any large chunks of garlic or walnut that the processor missed, break break them into smaller pieces. You will know that it's cooked enough when the lighter colored garlic becomes the same shade as the walnuts.
  5. By now, the pasta water has probably started boiling. When it does, add the dried pasta and cook until it's al dente. This should take about 8 minutes. Be sure not to overcook the pasta.
  6. While the pasta is cooking, stir the freshly cut flat-leaf parsley and crushed red pepper into your walnut sauce.
  7. When the pasta is al dente, drain with a colander. Do not rinse the pasta when you drain it like you might do with other dishes. You want the pasta to still be sticky and starchy when you toss it.
  8. Add the pasta to the walnut sauce and toss thoroughly. You want to make sure all the pasta is evenly coated.
  9. Serve immediately. Plates can be topped with fresh, organic cherry tomatoes and grated parmesan. It is my opinion that this dish does not need salt and pepper, but you should probably still have it on the table for guests. I would also recommend serving this dish with breadsticks. They work well to sop up any left over sauce.

This dish came out exactly how I expected it. The olive oil in the walnut sauce gave it a rich buttery taste. The chopped walnuts and garlic give good flavor but also provide a nice contrast of texture. I definitely recommend having this dish with the fresh tomatoes. It lightens the dish and adds some nice freshness.

For drinks, I used my Bartesian to serve Prohibition era drinks. The Bartesian makes it very easy to make cocktails that I otherwise would not have the skills or knowledge to make. I use the Bartesian for a lot of my dinner parties, but because this film was based on the Prohibition, I decided to stick to drinks from that era. During that time, Al Capone's gang imported their whiskey from Canada but produced their own gin, so I stuck to whiskey and gin drinks, and I decided to use a Canadian whiskey for authenticity. The five drinks below are the pods that I used to make the drinks.

Named for Chicago's South Side, this refreshing, slightly sweet, blend of tart lime, mint, and gin is rumored to have been the preferred drink of Al Capone and his gang during Prohibition. The sweetness of the drink was meant to counter the roughness of their gin. Shaken with ice and garnished with mint. Base spirit: Gin.

Aviation is a classic violet treasure that consists of Crème de Violette, Maraschino Liqueur, and a squeeze of lemon for a floral, sweet, and citrus libation. This drink was meant to capture the spirit of air travel, a luxury that only the wealthy could indulge at the time. Base spirit: Gin. Served with a maraschino cherry.

The Manhattan stirred up its popularity with its mix of savory sweet vermouth, whiskey, and aromatic bitters with a hint of cherry. Though the Southside is closely connected with Al Capone and his gang, for his own consumption, Capone was reported to prefer Manhattans. Base spirit: Whiskey. Served with a maraschino cherry.

A sweet, citrus, and refreshing cocktail from the Prohibition Era, the Bee's Knees is a delicious pairing of lemon and honey, combined with floral notes of clover and alfalfa. Shake on ice and garnish with a lemon peel. Base spirit: Gin.

Hop on in, the Sidecar is here! The Sidecar is a cognac-based cocktail with sour notes imparted from lemon juice, balanced with sweet notes of triple sec. This drink originated during the Prohibition, but remained a classic long after. Serve shaken with a sugar rim and garnish with a lemon twist. Base spirit: Whiskey.

The drinks were a great accompaniment to dinner. The Manhattan was the most popular drink of the night. I can see why Capone favored them. If you don't have a Bartesian and would like to order one, use this link to get a discount on your order and to earn me referral credits.

For dessert, we had ice cream. This might seem like a boring and disconnected choice, but it wasn't. During my research for this event, I discovered that while alcohol was being banned across the country, ice cream had boom. In many ways, it filled a social void that beer and liquor had left behind. Good Humor was an ice cream company that came to be in Chicago during that time. They invented ice cream treats on a stick and had mobile ice cream vehicles. According to Good Humor's own website, the company also had run-ins with the Chicago mob who damaged their vehicles after they refused to pay protection money.

Good Humor is still around, so I bought a few of their ice cream bars for the party. The flavors around today are not the same as what they were back then though. In addition to the ice cream bars, I also just had some regular neapolitan ice cream and toppings like you might get at an ice cream parlor. Overall, it fit the theme of the night well, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Overall, I would have to say this was a very successful movie night. If I was to change anything, I might decide to make homemade breadsticks. I didn't do that this time because I didn't want to give myself the extra work, but dinner itself was actually pretty easy to make, so I probably would have had the time.


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