Outside our window, little snow caps have formed on our fence posts, our boots have left glistening prints downwards & upwards on the steps up to our little house in Skyway where six inches of snow clings to the arms of our old birch tree, rhodendendroms, & fills abandoned flower pots, watering cans & the like. It is a winter wonderland if you can put behind the stressful drive home Wednesday night that left our vehicle stranded below a steep hill that had cars piled up for hours on the MLK exit that brings us home.
Tonight the windows are fogged with steam curtains as we prepare the evening's meal & onions are slivered into delicate half moons, da Pino's wonderous peppery pancetta is taken out of its sleeve and julienned, & a colorful can of San Marzano's are spun again & again by hand through the food mill's sieve to render the most silken texture a tomato can give. I think about what a friend said today, "When it snows, I hear more laughing in the street than cars..."
These are the times I enjoy cooking the most, when chopping is less a chore than a meditation. Not only did I feel good about putting a good cookbook to work on such an occasion, but I also realized that I had every ingredient stocked in our pantry, as if we had always been meant to bring them together. If at times the simplicity of Italian dishes evolved from sparceity of resources, tonight I felt rich indeed to smell onions melting away while Ray Baretto set the rhythm as cat & husband danced around the kitchen's smells & sounds while opening tins of tomatoes.
Bucatini all' Amatriciana adapted from Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
- One large can Italian San Marzano tomatoes
- 5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 6 oz pancetta
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 lb bucatini
- 1 cup grated Pecrino Romano cheese, plus more for passing
In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion & cook, stirring, until wilted. Stir in the pancetta & cook 2 minutes. Add the red pepper & tomatoes & bring to a boil. Simmer & season lightly with salt. Cook the bucatini in boiling water for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Bring the sauce & pasta to a boil & drizzle in 3 Tbs of grassy olive oil. Stir in the cup of Pecorino & season to taste. I always like a little dusting of Pecorino on top!
Note: This got a Mama Mia rating on its second day, so leave some leftovers for lunch the next day when the flavors really settle in...