Monday, March 4, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Pasta all' Amatriciana (Bucatini Amatrice - Style) / Pasta and Bacon varieties

March may have come in like a lamb.
But it can't  seem to make up its mind.
Hope you didn't pack away your toques and mittens just yet.

Eating out is a funny thing.
There are some folks who love to try something they've never had before.
To be honest, some of the latest in food recipes seem to me a little out there.
But, what the heck, everybody needs a little excitement in his life.

Then there are folks who don't want any surprises.
Maybe they have sensitive stomachs or are on meds and have to stick to the familiar.
If their Moms could be in the kitchen, they'd be thrilled.
Oh, well, it takes all kinds.  


Artie's Mia Cucina in The Sopranos Family Cookbook has something for everybody.
His Penne alla Vodka is an interesting twist on pasta in a creamy tomato sauce.
His Pasta all' Amatriciana might scare off somebody if he's just read the recipe's name.
I mean, what is all' Amatriciana?

Not to worry.
Amatrice is a town in central Italy. 
So this is the way the folks there make their tomato sauce.

And like many other Italians do, they serve the sauce on pasta.
Bucatini is tubed spaghetti, about 12 inches long.
In Italian buco, means "hole".
Yes, there's a hole running through the centre of the pasta tube.
Think of a very long, straightened-out elbow macaroni. 
Bucatini can also be served with buttery sauces, vegetables, cheese, eggs, and anchovies or sardines.

Perciatelli is thicker bucatini.
In Italian perciare, means "to hollow". 
Yes, the Italians made pasta in many different shapes.
Well, everybody needs a hobby.


If your local grocer doesn't carry either shape, don't cross off this recipe.
The sauce will go just as well with any thickish pasta, like linguine or penne.
And, of course, you remember that al dente means tender, yet firm to the bite.


Okay... but what is pancetta?
Pancetta is pork belly meat that has been salt cured and contains peppercorns. 
Pancetta is a type of bacon which is made in Italy, Croatia, Spain and Slovenia. 

It is rather fatty.
Pancetta is fried so that the melted fat can add flavour and richness to a dish.  
It can also be sliced thin and served as you would regular bacon.
If the fat is going to be a problem, you could make this dish with leaner bacon.
Or ham.
Whatever your Mom or doctor would approve of.


It all boils down to a simple dish of noodles in tomato sauce with a bit of meat. 
Mangia!!  Eat and enjoy!!


                        Pasta all' Amatriciana 

Serves 4 - 6

In a large skillet or dutch oven pour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Add
2 ounces thick-sliced pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Cook, stirring over medium heat, for 12 minutes.
You want the bacon and onion to be lightly golden.

Stir in
1 28- or 35- ounce can Italian tomatoes, drained and chopped
a pinch of crushed red pepper
salt to taste
Bring to a simmer.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes. 


WHILE THE SAUCE IS SIMMERING:
In a large pot place
4 quarts water
Bring to a boil.
Add
salt to taste
Stir in
1 pound Bucatini or Perciatelli
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
Set aside 1 Cup of the cooking water.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce in the pan.
Cooking over medium heat, toss the pasta until it is coated.
Add some of the reserved cooking water if it seems too dry.
Remove from heat.

Add
1/2 Cup grated Romano cheese
Serve immediately.


Would I make Pasta all' Amatriciana again?
Yes, more or less.
I'd go for leaner bacon, as per doctor's orders.
And kick up the flavour with a bit more pepper.

  
One recipe down.  Thirty-eight more to go.

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