Thursday, August 27, 2009

One last trip this weekend - to Rome! I plan to eat and drink myself silly – a fitting conclusion, I think, to this lovely life pause I've been enjoying. And then I will store up these memories like treasures for use in dire situations, like when I cannot bear another rainy day or find it impossible to get out of bed or get attacked by a shark in Puget Sound. Nothing wrong with a few secret vacation hits to get you through the withdrawal.

Having rather ignorantly prepared Pasta all'Amatriciana for some time now, I look forward to tasting a real Roman version. Or at least a realer version. There is (surprise!) some dispute among Italians over what constitutes real Amatriciana sauce; ingredients vary by location. But in Amatrice, the town outside of Rome where the recipe originated, real Amatriciana sauce uses guanciale (pork cheek), spaghetti, and avoids THAT ROMANO STUFF. (Technically that part is one of the few parts of the recipe not in caps, but I don't feel out of line in using them here. I'm sure some Italians have shouted over this before.)

Here's the recipe I've used in the past if you'd like to try it; you'll notice in addition to being corrupted by Romano cheese, it's missing the pork cheek. (Oh Marcella, what will we do with you?) I'll let you know if this makes a difference when I get back. A dopo!

Pasta all'Amatriciana
Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1/4 inch thick slice of pancetta, cut into strips 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch long
1 1/2 cups Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
hot red chili pepper, chopped, to taste
3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons Romano cheese
1 pound pasta (bucatini (hollow spaghetti) is traditional in Rome)

Put the oil, butter, and onion in a saucepan and turn on the heat to medium. Sauté the onion until pale gold, then add the pancetta. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring once or twice.

Add the tomatoes, the chili pepper, and salt, and cook in the uncovered pan at a steady, gentle simmer for 25 minutes, being careful it doesn't burn.

Taste and correct for seasonings

Toss the pasta with the sauce, then add both cheeses, and toss thoroughly again.


Marcella Hazan said...

When you are in Rome be sure to buy yourself a "cheek spoon". It's a special Roman tool used scape the soft tissue from the inside of swine cheek. Also, watch out that you don't eat too much pig cheek - those comestibles are a recipe for Swine Flu.

Swiss Ms. said...

Marcella! I didn't know that you read my blog! If you're ever in Lugano, you are more than welcome to come by for some of your own delicious recipes. My husband and I would be thrilled to meet you.

jenicrob said...

Ah, nostalgia. Somehow I never finished reading your blog, so I still have about ten posts left to enjoy. I think you made this recipe for me and jenicrob mr. when we visited--or something very like it, without the tomatoes.