Just in time for our cooler, rainier autumn days, today’s What’s Cooking Wednesday is simple, stick to your ribs goodness–Pasta all’Amatriciana, so named because it hails from a town called Amatrice, outside of Rome.
What follows is our interpretation of this recipe in my house. We use penne instead of the traditional bucatini, but we do use pancetta arrotolata like most recipes for this call for. Oh and we add just a touch of garlic.
What’s pancetta arrotolata you say? Well, it’s just rolled pancetta, and it looks like this:
You can read more about it here, but now I’m going to tell that we, lovers of all things spicy, don’t actually add any of our wonderful peperoncino to this dish–we just buy the spicy pancetta instead. See that reddish orange tint inside the rolls? That’s hot, and by that I mean piccante and not Paris Hilton-y.
As a substitute meat, you can use anything similar–we also prepare this recipe with Calabria’s most famous salami, soppressata, or even capicollo (and then add peperoncino). Just keep it chunky and spicy, and yum.
We’re lucky here in Calabria since its tradition of curing meats dates back to the days when Greeks first colonized this area–we’re talking B.C. So yes, they know what they’re doing, and the results are always fabulous.
For those of you lucky enough to be near an Italian market, do make the effort to seek out some of these meats. They’re great in antipasti and also as ingredients in a wide variety of dishes.
Like many Calabrian-Americans, we always had soppressata in our basement in America–my grandfather (non-Italian!), father, and brother would make them and we’d dig in for a Christmas-time treat. Sliced reeeeally thin with some fresh bread is my favorite. Anyone else?
Interestingly but not surprisingly, the local butcher who provides the spice mix to make the “soupies” as we called them (among Calabrians, “soppressata” becomes “suppressata,” and Americans love to make little nicknames, right?) has origins in Isca, which I wrote about yesterday.
So you see, I was also lucky in America.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
100 grams pancetta arrotolata,
unrolled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 can peeled tomatoes
500 grams penne pasta
water and salt to boil pasta
grated pecorino romano cheese to garnish
First put on the water to boil for the pasta, and then chop all your ingredients as described above.Put olive oil in skillet and heat on medium. Add pancetta, and let cook for about five minutes, until the pancetta renders its fat. I know, yum, right?
Then add the onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and parsley and let cook for another minute or so.
At this point, your water should be boiling, and you can add salt and the pasta to the water (or do this whenever your water *is* boiling after this point).
Now add the tomatoes to the skillet. You can run them through a grinder or roughly chop them first depending on how you like them. You can also add some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce a bit; I usually use about 1/4 cup.Let the sauce simmer for about 1o minutes or until the tomatoes taste done to you. You can add salt, but do so sparingly because the pancetta is salty and you’ve also added salted pasta water.
When the pasta is just short of al dente, remove, strain, and combine well with the completely cooked sauce, still over medium heat.
Once the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce and become fully al dente, remove and serve immediately. Garnish with grated pecorino romano cheese.
Don’t worry if your timing isn’t exact the first time you make this–it’ll get easier the more you make it, which is only more incentive to keep pancetta in your fridge.
[tags]pasta, pasta all’amatriciana, pancetta, pancetta arrotolata, cooking, recipes, what’s cooking wednesday[/tags]