Hugh Acheson’s Bucatini Amatriciana

I have a couple of fast weeknight pasta dishes to share. Classics. Both are served with bucatini, a house favorite. 🙂

This amatriciana sauce has rich and meaty flavor from the pancetta which balances nicely with the spiciness from crushed red pepper flakes. The flavors really come together as the sauce simmers. Simple and delicious.

This recipe was adapted from a “staff-favorite” Food and Wine recipe, contributed by Hugh Acheson. I omitted the marjoram.

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Marcella Hazan’s Butter, Tomato, & Onion Sauce

I made this sauce when I was still swimming in gorgeous fresh tomatoes. Because the sauce is so simple, it really showcases them. That being said, the quality of the tomatoes used is very important.

There are many debates about this famous sauce online. Much of the discussion is about whether or not butter (and its richness) should be incorporated into a tomato sauce. My vote is “YES!” 🙂 After tasting it, I think most would agree with me. Other discussions revolve around dissatisfaction with the results compared to the “hype.” Comments about the sauce being soupy and underwhelming may stem from using lower quality tomatoes or an abbreviated cooking time. We loved it.

My intention was to freeze the sauce to enjoy it during the winter, but it was too delicious to wait. The debate about this sauce in my house was about what type of pasta to serve it with! 😉 My husband won with his choice of pappardelle. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Hazan Family Favorites: Beloved Italian Recipes by Guiliano Hazan, via Epicurious.com. I increased the cooking time and reserved the onions after removing them from the tomato mixture (I pureed and seasoned them to serve as a spread on toasted baguette slices). Using fresh instead of canned tomatoes may have altered the total cooking time. I more than doubled the cooking time in order to achieve my desired consistency. I also pureed the finished sauce. Addictive!

Yield: Makes enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes (or 3 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice, preferably San Marzano)
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to finish
  1. If using fresh tomatoes, peel them: Score the base of each tomato and place it in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove the tomato with a wire strainer and peel off the skin.
  2. Coarsely chop the fresh or canned tomatoes.
  3. Trim both ends of the onion; peel it and cut it in half lengthwise.
  4. Put the tomatoes, onion, butter, and salt in a 4- to 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, lower the heat to a slow but steady simmer. Cook, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are no longer watery and the sauce has reduced, about 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size and shape of the pot. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.) The sauce is done when the butter has separated from the tomatoes and there is no remaining liquid.
  5. Puree the finished sauce, if desired.
  6. Prepare one pound of pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions.
  7. When you toss pasta with the sauce, add about 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Note: If the sauce is doubled, the cooking time will increase.

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Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

  • 1 whole chicken, 3-4 pounds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 10 cloves garlic, skins left on
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 handful of fresh sage, leaves picked — around 15-20 leaves
  • 2 lemons
  1. Heat oven to 375, preferably on convection.
  2. Season the chicken aggressively with the salt and pepper.
  3. Place a pot that will fit the chicken snugly (I used a deep 4-quart pot) over medium-high heat on the stove, and add to it the butter and olive oil.
  4. When the butter has melted and is starting to foam, add the chicken to the pot and fry it, turning every few minutes, until it has browned all over.
  5. Turn the heat down to low, remove the chicken from the pot and place it onto a plate, then drain off all but a few tablespoons of the fat from the pot. (I left more fat than recommended but would reduce the amount next time.)
  6. Add the cinnamon stick and garlic to the pot, and allow them to sizzle in the oil for a minute or 2, then return the chicken to the pot (preferably breast-side down) along with the milk and sage leaves.
  7. Use a vegetable peeler to cut wide strips of skin off the two lemons, and add them to the pot as well.
  8. Slide the pot into the oven, and bake for approximately 1½ hours, basting the chicken occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and tender and the sauce has reduced into a thick, curdled sauce. (If the sauce is reducing too quickly, put a cover halfway onto the pot.)
  9. To serve, use a spoon to divide the chicken onto plates. Spoon sauce over each serving.

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Fresh Tomato Sauce

My husband waters a co-workers’ tomato plants for a week every summer with the benefit of bringing home all of the ripe specimens. This year, he was fortunate enough to bring home a TON.

I had been saving some fabulous “meter” pasta for a special sauce- this was IT. This slow-cooked sauce had wonderful concentrated flavor. The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Grace Parisi. Absolutely delicious!

Yield: enough sauce to coat 1 pound of pasta

  • 5 lbs tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1-2 large basil sprigs
  • 1/2 T granulated sugar
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large pot, combine the tomatoes with the water, cover and cook over moderate heat until the tomatoes are softened and soupy, about 15 minutes.
  2. Set a food mill over a very large bowl. Add the tomatoes and puree them into the bowl. You should have about 8 to 9 cups.
  3. Wipe out the pot and heat the olive oil in it. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over very low heat until softened, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomato puree, basil and sugar and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 5 to 6 cups, about 2 hours.
  6. Discard the basil, if desired.
  7. Serve over your choice of pasta, cooked according to package directions. Alternatively, let the sauce cool, then pour into 1-pint plastic containers and freeze for up to 4 months.

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If you like this you may also like:

Simple Barbecue Sauce

I hate to admit it, but I initially dismissed this recipe when I read it in the New York Times- it seemed too simple to be good. I thought this despite the fact that I have FOUR different types of paprika in my spice cabinet and smoked paprika is not only my favorite, but is the secret ingredient in this sauce! When it was posted as a “most popular recipe, ” I had to try it. 🙂

We ate it over chicken thighs with potatoes, corn, and summer squash casserole on the side. What a meal! The original recipe suggests that the sauce should be thinned out if painting the meat while cooking and serving the full-strength sauce along with the cooked meat. This recipe is from the New York Times, contributed by John Willoughby. A simple and perfect summer recipe.

  • ⅔ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes.

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Penne with Vodka-Cream Sauce

This year, my son qualified to compete in our County Championship swim meet for the first time! 🙂 The swim club hosts a HUGE pasta party the evening before the meet begins. Many many families bring pasta for all of the swimmers and their families to share. You have never seen so much pasta in your life!! Incredible.

I decided that in order to make it “fair,” I would bring my daughter’s absolute favorite pasta dish, so that the evening was special for her as well. The mistake was that – by appearance only (of course!)- it was indistinguishable from any jarred sauce… if the crowd only knew that it was made with the coveted recipe from Chicago John of one of my absolute favorite blogs From The Bartolini Kitchens… Well, it left more delicious penne a la vodka for us! Yay! 😉

I made this fabulous creamy red sauce including both pancetta and red pepper flakes- but it is just as delicious as a vegetarian and/or non-spicy version. It is particularly fabulous served with garlic bread and green salad. A crowd pleaser. Simple and perfect!

  • olive oil
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/3 lb. chopped prosciutto or pancetta, optional
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup vodka
  • 1 28 oz. can tomatoes, diced or crushed (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • reserved pasta water
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over med-low heat.
  2. Add pork product and slowly render the fat. Do not cook until crisp.
  3. Increase heat to med-high. Add butter, then onion, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. If needed, add some olive oil.
  4. Season with salt & pepper; add the red pepper flakes (if using) and the garlic, and continue sautéing for another minute.
  5. Remove pan from heat, add vodka, stir to combine, return to heat. Have a pan lid nearby to smother the flame should the vodka ignite. Allow to reduce for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add tomatoes, cream, parsley, season with salt and pepper, stir thoroughly, bring to a boil, and reduce to a low simmer.
  7. After sauce has simmered for 20 minutes, begin heating a large pot of salted water in which to cook the penne. Cook the pasta per package directions, cooking until about 2 minutes before al dente.
  8. Reserve a cup of the pasta water, strain the penne, and add the pasta to the tomato sauce.
  9. Continue cooking the combined pasta and sauce until the pasta is done to your liking. Add some of the reserved pasta water to the pan if the pasta becomes dry during this last step of the cooking process.
  10. Just before serving, add the basil, mix well, and garnish the serving platter with grated pecorino romano cheese. Serve immediately.

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Classic Mozzarella Grandma Pizza Pie

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My true (pizza) love is a thin-crust margherita pie- AMAZING. This pizza is the complete opposite- yet absolutely delicious too! The crust is thick, fluffy, and tender. The top is loaded with fresh mozzarella and a special tomato sauce. I have enjoyed a “Grandma” slice from a pizzeria in the past, but this version was exponentially better. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Alfia Muzio.

Yield: 1 pie, about 6 servings

This pillowy crust dough proofs for 24-hours prior to baking. I was able to use my fingertips to form it into the 18×13-inch rectangle with ease.

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For the Grandma-Style Pizza Dough:

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for surface (I used 1/2 white whole wheat flour.)
  1. Combine yeast and 1½ cups warm water (105–110°) in a large bowl; let stand until yeast starts to foam, about 10 minutes.
  2. Mix in 2 Tbsp. oil, then salt and 2 cups flour. Add another 2 cups flour, a cup at a time, mixing until incorporated and a shaggy dough forms.
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft, smooth, and elastic, 10–12 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 24 hours.
  4. Coat an 18×13” rimmed baking sheet with remaining 1/4 cup oil. Gently and gradually stretch dough until it reaches the edges of baking sheet. (If dough springs back or is stiff to work with, let it rest 10 minutes before continuing. You may need to let it rest more than once.)
  5. Cover dough on baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (but not too warm!—about 70° is ideal for yeast to grow) until it is puffed and full of air bubbles, 30–40 minutes. (I used the proof setting on my warming drawer.)

 The anchovies give the sauce something special. SO good!

For the Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce:

  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained (I used San Marzano)
  • 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic cloves
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Pulse tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, oil, and basil in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth (some texture is okay); season with salt and pepper.

To Assemble the Pizza:

  • Grandma-Style Pizza Dough
  • 12 to 16 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated (about 2½ cups)
  • 1½ cups Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce
  • coarse or flaky sea salt (such as Maldon) and crushed red pepper flakes, for serving, optional
  1. Place a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 500° or as high as oven will go.
  2. Once dough has risen on baking sheet, top with mozzarella, and dot pie with tomato sauce; sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes, if desired. Bake pie until golden brown and crisp on bottom and sides, 20–30 minutes.

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