March 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
When I was a kid my mom and I went grocery shopping once a week at the local Giant. As I write, I realize what an inhospitable name that is … Giant Supermarket …. but that is where we went once a week, usually on Sunday. My mom had a grocery list that sat on our kitchen counter and we would add things to the list through the week. By Sunday, our list was long and we went to the store with a plan. Lunches, dinners and breakfasts for five days. One big shop, time efficient and cost effective.
Now I am the main provider of meals for my family and my approach is very different (‘approach’ sounds too intentional). Life happens, and I find myself at a grocery store nearly every day of the week. It’s the opposite of time efficient and cost effective, it is time sucking and expensive. When the automatic doors fly open and I step into the store I have a plan sometimes, often not. That’s when I depend on a small but invaluable collection of recipes that I know by heart. These recipes are simple and quick by definition, or else I would never remember them in the first place. Spaghetti all’Amatriciana has been at the top of this list for years. The sauce is a simple but heady combination of tomatoes, cheese and pancetta drippings tossed with noodles and topped with crispy pancetta bits. And more cheese. Sometimes I use bucatini in place of spaghetti. The long hollow noodles cook quickly and there’s something fun about twirling tubes around your fork.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces pancetta, diced
28 oz can of tomatoes, strained with 1 cup of juice reserved*
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Pecorino cheese
1 lb spaghetti or bucatini
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook until it is crisp, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a paper towel to drain and set it aside.
2. Increase the heat to medium high. Chop the tomatoes or use your hands to smash them and add them with the reserved juice to the skillet (be careful, the hot oil may splatter). Cook the tomatoes for 20 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and thickened. At this point you could use a hand blender to puree the sauce or leave it chunky. Stir the parmesan and two tablespoons of pecorino into the tomato sauce and cook for a few minutes longer.
3. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of heavily salted water according to package directions. Drain the pasta and then add it to the skillet with the sauce. Add another few tablespoons of pecorino and toss until the pasta is well coated with the sauce. Divide the spaghetti between four warm bowls and serve with the reserved pancetta and remaining pecorino at the table.
Recipe adapted from Saveur
*Note: in the summer months, substitute two large ripe tomatoes for the canned. Dice them and add them in step two, then reduce the simmering time to 10 minutes.