Penis pasta is, first and foremost, a gag gift and party prop. For the unfamiliar, it’s exactly what it sounds like — pasta, shaped like a tiny penis. It’s often sold at sex shops and distributed to bachelorettes as an odd little present. But it’s still just… pasta. Perfectly edible pasta. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a phallus get in the way of my carbohydrate enjoyment.
To enjoy this dick-shaped delight, you could simply whip up a sauce of butter and sawdust-esque Parmesan, or splash a jar of red sauce atop it. But doesn’t such an elevated pasta shape deserve an equally elevated presentation? I believe it does, and that’s exactly what I was determined to give the two boxes I recently bought for $8 each.
Wanting to make the most of such an investment, I reached out to a nationally renowned chef of an Italian-inflected restaurant in California, one whose food has even earned the attention of a certain tire company. But because of his high-profile status, he asked to remain completely anonymous, as not to be publicly associated with dick pasta.
“Do something really fun and naughty with it,” Adam, our anonymous chef, advised me. “I’d do penis pasta with a creamy Alfredo sauce — just to make it really dirty and gross, but also taste delicious.” He recommended making it “gourmet” by using seasonal vegetables and making a “proper, luscious, creamy” sauce out of bechamel — a white sauce made from roux and milk — and Parmesan cheese.
“[Alfredo] is basically like a creamy cheese sauce,” he explained. “It’s all about making a proper roux, which is flour and butter, and adding cream and lots of herbs. That’s what I think separates a good Alfredo and a really good Alfredo — using things like rosemary, thyme, sage and lots of alliums.” (Alliums are things like shallots and garlic.) Also, because we’re at the beginning of spring, Adam recommended in-season veggies like favelas or English peas.
But regardless of what you put in it, he highlighted one, massively important tip: slightly undercooking the pasta. “Overcooking pasta is a huge mistake that the common cook makes,” he told me, explaining that cooking the pasta a minute or two less than the box states gives it a satisfying al dente texture.
With this advice in mind, I got to cooking. I used a few online recipes to help guide my roux cooking process, too.
First, I simmered my veggies in a pan with garlic, rosemary, thyme and olive oil. My grocery store didn’t have any fancy English peas or favelas, so I just went with some healthy-looking asparagus. I set that to the side, and began boiling a big pot of water. While that got working, I melted some butter in a pan with more garlic, then added half a cup of heavy cream, one cup whole milk, salt and pepper. I set all that aside, too, and repeated the butter-melting process again. Once melted, I tossed two tablespoons of flour into the pan, and whisked like my life depended on it. After a minute or two, I began splashing the garlic milk into the pan, still whisking anxiously. Then came a cup and a half of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. To finish it off, I added more rosemary and thyme.
Somewhere along the line, I put two seven-ounce boxes of penis pasta into salted boiling water. After five minutes, I tested them and they still had a mild crunchiness — which was perfect. I drained them, and then, in increments, I added heaps of the pasta into the sauce along with the asparagus I’d cast aside earlier, mixing over a low heat.
To accomplish this feat, I used basically every pot and bowl in my kitchen and made a complete fucking mess. But what resulted was by far the most decadent dish I’ve ever made from scratch. Never before had I cooked like this. My whole life, my mother noted how difficult a roux was to make, so I’d always been terribly intimidated. But I did it! And it was incredible! It was so good, in fact, that I barely thought about the penis shape of the pasta. It just tasted like pasta!
I will say, though, that the shape, with the two perfectly round holes for balls, were an ample vehicle for the sauce. Most sauce recipes call for 16 ounces of pasta. I had 14 ounces, and still not quite enough sauce for all of it. It’s as though those greedy dicks just scooped it all up in their girth.
Perhaps such a rich sauce would have been better suited for a fettuccine, as most Alfredo recipes call for, but the combination of white sauce and penis pasta is only logical. According to the Food Network, there is a bit of a science to pairing pastas with sauces, depending on the pasta’s shape. While they don’t offer any tips for penis pasta, they say that “shorter, shaped pastas” like bowtie or pinwheel are good for picking up thick, hearty sauces. This actually makes penis pasta a wise choice for the sauce I made, particularly with the roux base. Without the roux, the sauce might have been much thinner, and therefore better suited for your basic long, thin pastas.
Ultimately, penis or no penis, this was easily the most work I’ve given to a pasta dish. And I’ve emerged as a new woman! One who makes a roux! One who grates fresh Parmesan! You’ll never catch me saying this again, but I did it all for the dick. I let the penis (pasta) change me — and it was totally worth it.