Above shows the beautiful town of Amatrice before and after the Earthquake that hit on August 24th. At this time of year when we begin to enjoy the Fall Season and then the Holidays approaching, my thoughts are of the people of Amatrice, Italy. I am praying today for the people of Amatrice and all the other Towns devasted by this powerful Earthquake.
Amatrice is about an hour away from Rome by car. When we were in Italy two years ago we had decided to take the train from Rome to Naples and then the Water Taxi to Sorrento. We thought on our next visit we would drive from Rome and visit Amatrice then. I wanted to visit this town not only to taste their famous Pasta, but to have the chance to meet the locals and learn the legend of this tasty dish! Like many regions throughout Italy,Villages celebrate with Festivals that center around a particular recipe.
Amatrice would have celebrated its 50th Anniversay of Spaghetti all"Amatriciana this year on the weekend of August 28th! The devastation by this Earthquake and its 6.2 magnitude will forever be remembered. A town almost completely destroyed in the middle of the night. I'm hoping if we all remember and keep them in our prayers, the survivors will be blessed with the strength to rebuild and once again celebrate and honor the people lost.
The first time I tasted Spaghetti all"Amatriciana was in New York City in the early 80"s. My husband Rocco and I were going to see a show in the Theatre district and stopped for an early dinner in a little Trattoria on Eighth Ave. The funny thing is as Im writing this Post I don't recall the show we saw that night but will forever remember this particular Pasta Dish! ;) It was a small restaurant very nicely decorated using copper pots alongside of colorful dishes on the walls. The wait staff was so friendly greeting and thanking us in Italian which always adds a special touch to the moment. At any rate we were enjoying a glass of wine when the pasta was served and as the waiter put it in front of me I was so surprised to see it being presented in a black iron frying pan. My husband and I both had ordered it and we each had our own frying pan. It really was a unique presentation and clevor as well. They also put down a white dish and the waiter spooned some onto the plate and the rest kept warm in the pan that retains the heat. Between the presentation and the fabulous flavor it has been one of our favorite dishes for years. I use pancetta as its harder to find Guanciale (pork jowl or cheek) unless I'm in New York. Sometimes I make it with Fresh tomatoes and it's equally delicious. The secret is not to have the pasta swimming in sauce rather clinging with the olive oil being the adhesive that brings it all together. You always cook the pasta al dente and it will not soften in the frying pan while its being served.
Once again a simple meal and moment I will never forget with the surprise of a frying pan! Now remember I'm a foodie maybe some people would think serving in a frying pan is less than acceptable ...! :)
With that said I'm hopeful that after reading this you will keep the folks all over Italy in your Prayers for them to rebuild and restore their towns. Our hearts are especially rooting for the people of Amatrice hit so hard that they can come back for generations to come and savor the tradition of Spaghetti all'Amatriciana.
Recipe for Spaghetti all'Amatriciana
4 to 8 oz chopped pancetta or guaniciale, onions, garlic (opitional),red pepper,crushed tomatoes, Pecorino Romano cheese, Bucatini or Spaghetti or even Linguine. I keep my pancetta in the freezer as it easier to chop or slice. Adding red or white wine with the tomatoes is great too, just remember you need at least 25 minutes for the wine to cook out and blend with the tomatoes. Actually when I use fresh tomatoes I use about 4 oz red wine as it deepens the color of the sauce and creates a great balance with the olive and onions to coat your pasta.
Put a little olive oil in a frying pan just to coat and add Pancetta or Guanciale and then cook over low heat till lightly browned. If you have rendered too much fat remove some and save a few tablespoons of pancetta for garnish. Next add onions and garlic (optional) the red pepper and cook till transluecent. Add Crushed tomatoes and cook about 35-45 minutes stirring occasionally on a low flame. Cook your Pasta al dente and toss in pan with sauce. Serve with pecorino cheese and top with reserved pancetta . Add extra red pepper or cheese as desired.
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