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Mario’s Pasta May 12, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in random stuff.
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I’m going to admit right here – we don’t watch a lot of Food Network.  Sure, we both enjoy Alton Brown, but really, that’s about it.  Then, a while back, I stumbled on an essayAnthony Bourdain was guest-blogging for Michael Ruhlman – and, while I’ve never really been a fan of any of the shows mentioned (Iron Chef America?  Bah!  This version has nothing on the original – though it’s at least better than the William Shatner version.  But so is stabbing yourself in the eye with a sharp stick.) Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  The essay – it did seem, well, kind of harsh.

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So.  The reason I told you all that was, besides the “dude, wow” factor, well, when the May issue of Food & Wine showed up with a recipe based on one of Mario Batali’s Babbo recipes, well, of course we had to try it.  Peeps used to enjoy watching him on Molto Mario when it was on, and me, well, I figure any chef who’s the size of Mario Batali must be doing something right, right?

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So Buccatini all’Amatriciana was our this month’s Food  & Wine recipe.  Only rather than a long hollow pasta, we went with Barilla’s spaghetti rigati.

You know that’s the awesome thing about spaghetti night – as long as you’re not ridiculous about it, it’s so very quick to put together!

And while the pasta was cooking, we started the sauce.

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Well, started doctoring the sauce.

It was a weeknight, people!  And Peeps frequently brings home, um, overstocks of various sauces from work, including marinara.  And it’s the next best thing to homemade. . .

We started by sauteeing about a half pound of proscuitto (yes, the recipe said to use pancetta, which was actually a substitute for the restaurant version’s guanciale, but, really, I’m a Midwestern Swede – how much can you expect from me?)

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After browning the pork product of your choice, take the meat out of the pan, then lightly saute a thin-sliced red onion, some garlic, and a pinch (a really big, teaspoon-plus sized pinch) of crushed red pepper until the onion is slightly browned.  Return the meat to the pan, then add the sauce – we used a pint.

See?  With the onions, garlic, red pepper and prosciutto all going on, who wants to make a fresh sauce if there’s something decent available?

Just let that reduce a few minutes.

And really, that’s pretty much it.

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The pasta should be cooked by now, and you’re just going to want a half cup of chopped parsley (or whatever you can spare from the one lone plant that survived the winter).

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Toss the pasta and parsley right in the pan with the sauce, adding up to half a cup of reserved pasta-cooking water, and you are good to go!  Or, you will be just as soon as you grate some fresh Romano (or Parmigiano) cheese and slice the bread.

You did remember fresh bread, right?

And the verdict?  It was very good – a little heavy on the crushed red pepper, maybe, for my taste, but that might have something to do with pinching rather than measuring.  Peeps questioned the need for the extra fussing if you’re starting with good sauce, but I’m more inclined to see it as “doctoring” already-made sauce.

All in all, it’s a great way to make a jarred sauce taste . . . personalized.  And since the sauce really didn’t take any longer to throw together than the pasta took to cook anyway, that can’t be anything but a good thing, right?

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