Meet the Prickly Pair: The Weekly Debuts a New Food Podcast and Teaches You a Thing or Two About Pasta

click to enlarge Roderick LeDesma slices garlic on a mandolin at PY Steakhouse. - PHOTO BY | NICOLE FELTMAN
Photo By | Nicole Feltman
Roderick LeDesma slices garlic on a mandolin at PY Steakhouse.

PricklyPairEpisode1__2_.mp3

This week, Tucson Weekly launches the Prickly Pair Podcast, featuring staff reporters Alexandra Pere and Nicole Feltman. In the coming episodes, Pere and Feltman will be talking with chefs, restaurant owners and other folks who make it so much fun to navigate our UNESCO City of Gastronomy. You’ll find the Prickly Pair Podcast at TucsonWeekly.com and most streaming platforms. Follow the show on Instagram @pricklypairpodcast.

The first guest is Roderick LeDesma, executive sous chef of PY Steakhouse at Casino Del Sol. 

One of LeDesma’s favorite movies has a classic line that the hosts of the Prickly Pair Podcast hold dear to their hearts: “Anybody can cook.” (Yes, Pixar’s Ratatouille got a shoutout in the first episode of a food podcast, which is not that surprising.) The line rings true, depending on your access to ingredients. To extend the chance to learn some kitchen skills to even the most frugal college student, the Prickly Pair hosts ask their guests to provide easy (and cheap!) recipes our readers or listeners can make at home. LeDesma’s recipes include two Italian pasta dishes: spaghetti aglio e olio and spaghetti cacio e pepe. Each takes less than 15 minutes to make. 


Spaghetti aglio e olio

• 1 pound spaghetti 

• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

• ¼ teaspoon chile flakes

• ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

• ¼ cup thinly sliced garlic

• Salt and pepper to taste

• Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti according to your package directions. (typically 10-12 min for dry and about 2.5 – 3 min for fresh). While pasta is cooking, have a medium-large pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and sliced garlic. Cook ‘til your garlic starts to turn golden brown on the edges. Turn off heat and add in chile flakes, lightly toast for about 10 seconds and add in parsley. Make sure you don’t let your garlic or chile flakes get too brown, you want to keep it nicely golden. When it is, add about ½ cup of pasta water to your pan with your cooked pasta. Toss together and season with salt and pepper. Finish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, if desired. 


Spaghetti cacio e pepe

• 1 pound spaghetti

• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided in half

• 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (freshly cracked is best)

• 2 ounces, roughly 1 cup, finely grated Pecorino Romano (substitute Parmigiano Reggiano if needed)

• Salt to taste


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti according to your package directions (typically 10 to 12 minutes for dry pasta and about two and a half to three minutes for fresh). While pasta is cooking, have a medium-large pan over medium heat. Melt two tablespoons of butter in the pan and add freshly cracked black pepper. Toast pepper ‘til fragrant. Add in ¼ cup pasta water and your cooked spaghetti and toss with freshly grated pecorino romano (or Parmigiano Reggiano) and the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Add more pasta water if needed to get a smooth, creamy sauce. Season with salt to taste and finish with more freshly grated pecorino and black pepper.


A good rule of thumb to get perfect al dente pasta is to cook it for about 1 minute less than the package says and finish cooking in the pan with your sauce.  

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