This is my first foray into my newest cookbook, Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I've learned a lot about cooking already from reading this excellent book. Hazan has very specific ideas about how things should be done in the kitchen. I particularly love this passage on making pasta:
"In the sequence of steps that lead to producing a dish of pasta and getting it to the table, none is more important than tossing. Up until the time you toss, pasta and sauce are two separate entities. Tossing bridges the separation and makes them one. The oil or butter must coat every strand thoroughly and evenly, reach into every crevice, and with it carry the flavors of the components of the sauce. When you add the sauce, toss rapidly, using a fork and spoon or two forks, bringing the pasta up from the bottom of the bowl, separating it, lifting it, dropping it, turning it over, swirling it around and around.
Once the pasta is sauced, serve it promptly, inviting your guests and family to put off talking and start eating. The point to remember is that from the moment the pasta is done, there should be no pauses in the sequence of draining, saucing, serving and eating."
My Amatriciana sauce was immeasurably enhanced by South End Formaggio's house-cured pancetta, bursting with the flavors of fine pork, pepper and white wine.
-2 T. olive oil
-1 T. butter
-1 medium onion, chopped fine
-a 1/4 inch thick slice of pancetta, cut into thin strips 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch long
-1 1/2 cups canned imported plum tomatoes, drained and cut up
-chopped red hot chilli pepper
-3 T. freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
-2 T. freshly grated romano cheese
-1 pound bucatini
1. Put the oil, butter and onion in a saucepan and turn on the heat to medium. Saute the onion until it turns pale gold, then add the pancetta. Cook for 1 minute, stirring once or twice, and splash in some white wine if you like. Add the tomatoes, chilli pepper and salt, and cook in the uncovered pan at a steady, gentle simmer for 25 minutes. Taste and correct for salt and hot pepper.
2. Cook the pasta al dente, then drain and immediately toss with the sauce. Add both cheeses and toss thoroughly again. Feeds 4.