In my quest to re-embrace pasta and Italian cuisine, I made Amatriciana sauce today (sounds fancy, eh?). My class actually had to do make pasta for a Culinary Foundations assignment: We are bringing frozen spaghetti to class tomorrow morning to defrost and taste in class. Of course, I've already critiqued my pasta and sauce up and down as I ate it for lunch today. First, I used the tomatoes I canned myself. I'm still alive and feeling well at the moment, so I must not have poisoned myself with botulism. That was the first time I had ever canned tomatoes and I'm neither here nor there on the taste. I didn't de-seed the fruit, which doesn't bother me much but may bother others. The tomatoes are on the sweet side, another thing I can't decide about. But the juice was very thick and made a really great sauce once reduced in volume. I'm thinking ahead to what Chef Tim will say when he tastes it, and I think I overcooked the bacon. But it's bacon, how bad can it ever be?
My roommate just decided last week to commit to eating vegetarian, a life decision I find very admirable. I'm also against the mistreatment of animals. But as I was pulling thick slabs of bacon out of its vacuum-sealed bag, a greasy film developing on my fingers, I told myself again that I could never give up meat completely. I go probably go without steak or burgers, and I definitely could go without dry chicken and tough pork. But it's the fat I can't do without. That bacon has a flavor you just can't get in the vegetable world, and it's the strips of fat lining the red strands of meat that melted into my sauce today or that crisps up in the skillet on a Saturday morning. I could live without it, but I wouldn't want to. I'm so glad Amanda and so many of my friends are committed to not eating meat or only eating meat that has been sustainable and humanely treated, but I think I'll just be your cheerleader if that's alright.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 thick slices bacon or pancetta, cubed
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped juices reserved
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Parmesan-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano
In a saute pan, heat the oil and butter on medium. Saute the onion until translucent. Add the bacon and cook until fat has rendered and the meat has crisped a bit (five minutes). Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and salt (to taste), bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile cook pasta (spaghetti or fettucini) until al dente. Drain pasta and add to the sauce, stirring to coat. Serve sprinkled with grated cheese.