Pasta and Wine, Part One
By Victor Rallo and Anthony Verdoni
Recipe 5: Amatriciana Recipe
1 pound of Bucatini or Perciatelli
1 pound of Pancetta cut into even small pieces
1 pound of fine chopped white onion
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
16 ounces of canned Italian DOP tomato cored and chopped
3 ounces olive oil
¼ pound of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a 14 inch sauté pan add the olive oil and pancetta and heat at medium heat. Cook the pancetta until it starts to brown. As soon as browning begins, add the chopped onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until onion starts to caramelize. This is where Amatriciana sauce gets its flavor. Stir frequently so that the mixture is browning not burning. Now add the tomato paste and stir into mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan. This is a process in cooking where you use the liquid (the wine), to help loosen all the caramelized goodness from the bottom of the pan, so that it becomes part of the sauce and is not left behind.
Add the DOP tomatoes to the mixture; stir tomatoes to integrate them with onion and pancetta. Continue to cook until tomato, pancetta and onion mixture starts to boil. The sauce must reduce a little bit. So reduce the heat to medium/low and continue to cook for about 45-60 minutes after first boil, stirring frequently so that the sauce does not burn. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, and chili flakes to taste.
Ten minutes before sauce is finished, drop the Perciatelli into the boiling pasta water. Follow pasta cooking instructions on the label I look to cook the pasta for 30-45 seconds less then instructed time to insure pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta and add perciatelli or bucatini to the sauté pan. Remember always to drip a little of the pasta water into the pan. Toss the pasta and the sauce several times, until the pasta is covered with the sauce. With a pair of tongs put a swirl of pasta into each serving bowl. Then with a spoon put a hearty spoonful of the remaining sauce on top of each swirl of pasta. Finish each dish with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese or try Ricotta Salata cheese. Serve immediately.
If you prefer a white wine when eating Amatriciana, we recommend Frascati Superiore or an Orvieto Classico Secco. We love a rich, soft, harmonious, red Montepulciano D’Abruzzo to complement this pastas bold flavors.
Recipe 6: Basic Pomodoro Sauce:
1 large can of San Marzano DOP tomatoes (2.2kg)
2 large yellow onions
6 ounces extra virgin olive oil
10 leaves of fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
I use this sauce as my base for all tomato sauce based recipes. Pour the entire can of tomatoes into a large bowl. Core each tomato discarding the core. Then break each tomato into small pieces with your hand. Next peel and chop both onions into fine pieces. A food processor can chop them to fine or use a knife to chop the onions into consistent small pieces.
Place a 14 inch sauté pan over medium heat on the stove. Add 3 ounces of olive oil and the onions. Sauté the onions until they start to caramelize, turning golden brown. When all of the onion is caramelized, add the San Marzano tomatoes in the bowl to the onions. Let this cook over medium heat until tomato onion mixtures simmers for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently so pan does not burn.
Reduce heat to low and add basil leaves. Break them into pieces by hand. Stir the basil into the mixture and cook for 3-5 more minutes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. This will make approximately four quarts of Pomodoro sauce. It will last in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or freeze it and defrost as needed.
***The art of cooking pasta (all shapes):
Put a 8 quarts of water into a large pot (pot should be a little over ½ filled with water- make sure the pot is large enough) on high heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water. When the water boils, add the pasta to the water. Stir the pasta often so it does not stick. Follow the time guidelines on the package for cooking. I like to subtract 30 seconds or so from the recommended cooking time so the pasta is cooked al dente.
Recipe 7: Homemade egg pasta dough:
3 cups of Caputo Pasta flour
1 cup Caputo semolina
5 extra large eggs
Mix the Pasta flour and the semolina flour together. Mound approximately 3 ½ cups of the mixed flour on a marble or wood counter. Leave ½ cup of the flour mix on the side. This will be used to adjust the final consistency of the dough. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs into the well. Gradually starting from the center slowly incorporate the flour and eggs together. The dough will start to form when about half the flour is incorporated. Keep working the dough until all of the flour is incorporated.
Start kneading the dough with both hands. Once the dough is formed into a mass, remove it from the counter. Clean the counter with a scraper, removing excess dough pieces and bits. After cleaning, lightly flour the counter with some of the remaining flour and knead the dough for 5-7 more minutes. This step is very important and cannot be skipped. If the dough is too soft and sticky you can slowly work in some of the remaining flour. The final consistency of the dough should be soft and slightly sticky.
Put the dough in a floured bowl and wrap it in plastic wrap, let the dough sit at room temperature for one hour. Now your dough is ready. This dough can now be used in any manual pasta maker to cut the dough into your favorite or desired pasta shape.
When we run out of wines, pasta cuts, and recipes from Italy, our journey will be complete. Remember: do not be timid about adding a complementary ingredient or flavor to a traditional recipe. The rules on pairing wine with food have been officially thrown out. So experiment and, most of all smile, and have fun, because that is truly Italian.