The essential pasta cookbook, 304pp.
by Murdoch Books’ kitchens
Murdoch Books, Ultimo NSW Australia, 1998
Cooking on page 32
Pasta recipes must be one of the most popular go-to options for busy cooks wanting to make a delicious and quick meal.
Not surprisingly, I’ve turned to this cookbook many times since I bought it in the year or two after it came out. I’ve always been impressed by the variety, creativity and tastiness of the recipes.
When I turned to page 32, I was rather surprised that I’d never before made this classic pasta dish—Arrabbiata or fiery tomato sauce.
Arrabbiata (fiery tomato sauce)
1/2 cup (75 g/2 1/2 oz) bacon fat
2–3 fresh red chillies
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
500 g (1 lb) very ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
500 g (1 lb) pasta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, for serving
Use a large knife to finely chop the bacon fat. Chop the chillies, taking care to avoid skin irritation—wearing rubber gloves will help. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the bacon fat, chilli, onion and garlic. Cook for 8 minutes.
Add the chopped tomato along with 1/2 cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) of water and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and rich.
When the sauce is almost cooked, cook the pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.
Add the parsley to the sauce. Taste and season again, if necessary. Pour the sauce over the pasta in the pan and toss gently. Servie with the freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese sprinkled over the top.
Serves 4. Note: Penne rigate is traditionally used with this sauce, but you can use other pasta.
How it played out
My plan of attack was diverted at the very first ingredient. I have no idea how long it would take me to accumulate 1/2 cup of bacon fat, but I did have about 2 cups of duck fat from the last time I cooked a duck. I rightly assumed it would work just fine.
I couldn’t bring myself to use a full 1/2 cup of duck fat though, so used about 1/3 cup instead, and skipped the olive oil completely. Otherwise I followed the recipe as written, using flat-leaf parsley from the garden and rigatoni pasta, which is similar to penne.
We haven’t had much pasta lately so I was glad to come upon a page-32 recipe that was so yummy and so quick and easy-to-make. The flavour was perfect, the heat from the chillies was just right and the duck fat was a great replacement for the bacon fat.
It gave us three ample serves and there was still enough for a couple of lunches the next day.
If you’ve just celebrated Christmas, I bet this recipe would be a great way to use up some leftover turkey, ham, lamb or whatever protein you used.
You can be sure I’ll make this often. And if you’re a big fan of pasta, check out the dish I had in Berlin.