My latest Cooking Italy assignment from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking was Pasta all’ Amatriciana a wonderful sauce with origins in the area of Rome. I made this dish last week, but have not had a chance to post, since I was also very busy preparing for a jewelry show last Saturday. Again a very simple sauce, my favorite kind these days! The sauce is traditionally served with a bucatini pasta – a thick, hollow spaghetti-like pasta. Alas, there was none to be had, so I went with penne, one of Ms. Hazan’s other recommendations for this sauce.
Vegetable oil (I used olive), butter and a finely chopped onion are sauteed until the onion turns gold. Small strips of pancetta are added and cooked for about a minute. Canned plum tomatoes are cut up, drained and also added. Salt and chopped hot red chili pepper round out the flavors and the sauce is cooked at a gentle simmer for 25 minutes. I think I may have overcooked a bit, as the oil and tomatoes separated – but it was all good and very delicious. The cooked sauce is mixed with the pasta and both parmigiano and romano cheeses are added. For the recipe adaptation, see our Cooking Italy Founder Angela’s Spinach Tiger blog.
While you’re there, you might want to check out her interview with Giuliano & Lael Hazan – Ms. Hazan’s son and daughter-in-law! They found each other through twitter – how cool is that?
I was surprised at the mildness of the pancetta – it is likened to an Italian “bacon” – but did not have the smokiness one expects with bacon. I was also a little leery of the hot pepper, as spicy hot no longer agrees with me – but it was perfect to perk up the flavors in this dish.
This is a beautiful, “company-worthy” first course – doable in a mere half hour! Go! Cook!