I hope you enjoy the food!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Calamari all'amatriciana

On our first night in Rome, after our twilight, highlights of Rome from a bus tour, we were treated to a meal at a local trattoria.  One of the pasta dishes we tried that night was bucatini all'amatriciana.  This dish was soon to become one of our favourites as we travelled around the different areas of Italy.  Of course, as with anything there were variations at each place that we tried it.

Amatriciana is a classic dish, and one of simplicity.  Traditionally it is made only with smoked pork (guanciale), tomatoes (oh how I loved those sweet Italian tomatoes!), a kick of chilli, and then topped off with some grated pecorino cheese.  A purist would argue that onions and garlic have no place in this dish!

The Romans claim this dish is theirs, but there are others who claim it originates from the town of Amatrice - a tiny town in the mountains bordering Abruzzo (more than 100 miles from Rome!) Wherever it comes from, it is a truly wonderful dish.

Since coming home I have made this dish several times, but this version I think nails it on the head, the flavours that I loved while in Italy.  While not claiming this is a traditional version, it is one that my whole family enjoys.

When you are out and about in real Italian food shops, you find some lovely interesting shapes in the pasta that is on offer on offer.  In Italy we found some very interesting shapes (and colours) of pasta!!

On a recent trip to Haberfield I ran across a shape called "calamari" - it reminded me of the shape of the pasta that I had at our favourite restaurant "Scirocco" - so this was the pasta I used tonight!

Calamari all'amatriciana
from trial and error, and several recipes!!

Serves 6

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
250g speck, cut into batons
crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, minced finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 x 400g cans whole peeled italian tomatoes
500g pasta  *
grated pecorino cheese

Heat the oil in a large frypan over medium high heat.  Add the speck, and saute until crisp, and golden. Drain the excess fat from the pan.  Add the onion and garlic, cook stirring until the onion softens - approximately 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, crushing slightly with a fork or a potato masher.  Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

Meanwhile bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.  Add the pasta a cook until 3 minutes before al dente.

(In Italy the pasta is served very chewy, almost with a breadlike consistency - the worst crime you can commit is to serve watery gluggy pasta!!)

* I have found that it is worth paying a little more and buying "real" italian pasta - the "al dente" texture is much easier to replicate.  The cheap local stuff goes far too gluggy!!!

Drain the pasta, but retain the cooking water.

Add the drained pasta to the tomato sauce, toss to incorporate the sauce well.  Add 1 cup of reserved cooking water.  Cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.  Add more cooking water if needed.

Stir in approximately 1/4 cup of grated pecorino cheese.

Serve topped with grated pecorino cheese.

So while this isn't the traditional amatriciana recipe - it certainly went down a treat in our house the other night!!!  No leftovers tonight!!!!

Buon Appetito!!!

1 comment:

  1. Am laughing at myself 'cause initially did not realize the shape of the pasta was called calamari! Thought there had been some major tweaking of a traditional recipe :) ! Lovely version I'll try :) ! Last night's 'Masterchef' [in Italy this week] spent its day at the Barilla factory - did not know there were quite so many shapes available from that firm either. Fun lessons - thank you for yours!