Sunday, February 4, 2007
Adapted from Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
This is one of my favorite meals - tomato sauce with pancetta and chili pepper served over pasta. The perfect pasta is bucatini (perciatelli), but penne, rigatoni, and mezzi rigatoni are also good. Get your pancetta from a reliable source because the strength of this dish depends upon the quality of the pancetta. The best I've gotten in New York City is at DiPalo's on Grand Street in Little Italy (now very little Italy) and Eli's on Third Avenue.
2 tablespoons light vegetable oil
1 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 slices of pancetta (fat and lean), ¼-inch-thick, diced
1½ to 2 cups of Italian plum tomatoes, diced, with their juice (a 14½ oz. can is fine)
Dried crushed red pepper to taste
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino-romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound pasta
Put the oil, butter, and onion in a saucepan, and turn on the heat to medium. Sauté the onion until it becomes colored a pale gold. Add the pancetta, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the crushed dried red pepper, and cook for 20 to 30 seconds. do not let it burn. Add the tomatoes and a good pinch of salt, and cook in the uncovered pan at a gentle simmer for about 25 minutes. Taste and correct for salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remember, the pancetta and the cheeses are likely to be salty, and the sauce will have reduced a little by now, so be sparing with the salt.
Toss the pasta with the sauce, then add both cheeses, and toss again.