Monday, September 10, 2012

Perciatelli with Bolognese


  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, minced
  • 1/2 cup dried porcini, soaked, drained and chopped fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground skirt steak
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large can San Marzano crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 2 cheese rinds from Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (roughly 1/2 cup total in large chunks)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 2 pounds dry perciatelli pasta
  • 1/2 cup ground Pecorino Romano cheese


In a large cast-iron or Dutch oven casserole over medium heat, heat some olive oil and then add the pancetta, porcini, garlic, onions and carrots. They should cook slow and lightly brown, about 20 minutes.
In another large casserole over medium heat, brown the meat slowly in olive oil until it is a nice even brown color. This process should take around 30 minutes and the mixture should be stirred frequently so it will not stick. Salt and pepper liberally. Then add the tomato paste and saute for 5 minutes.
When finished, deglaze the pot with the vegetables by adding 1 cup of the red wine. Next, add the vegetables and pancetta to the pot with the meat. Then add the remaining red wine to deglaze the pot. Scrape all the bits and pieces that might accumulate and reduce by half, about 10 minutes. Then add the chicken stock, milk, crushed tomatoes and cheese rinds and simmer very gently for 2 hours.
Remove the cheese rinds and discard. Let the sauce sit and cool down before using; it's even better the next day! Finish the sauce with the basil and thyme.
Boil 2 gallons of salted water and add the perciatelli pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain all but a 1/2 cup of water off of the pasta and put the pasta directly into the pot of bolognese sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes to incorporate the sauce into the pasta, adding the reserved pasta water as necessary. Finish with the ground Pecorino Romano, torn basil and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on top. Bon appetit!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bucatini All'Amatriciana

Serves 4

- ¾ pound guanciale, or pancetta, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 red onion, halved and sliced ½-inch thick
- 1 ½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 ½ cups basic tomato sauce
- 1 pound bucatini
- 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
- Pecorino Romano, for grating 

1. Being 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
2. Place the guanciale slices in a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan in a single layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered from the meat, turning occasionally. Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard half the fat, leaving enough to coat the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. Return the guanciale to the pan with the vegetables, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions, garlic and guanciale are light golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Cook the bucatini in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the simmering sauce. Add the parsley leaves, increase the heat to high and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese and serve immediately. 

Basic Tomato Sauce

Makes 4 cups

- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
- 1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
- 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved (or 1 can if you want a richer sauce)
- Salt, to taste

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.