About a year ago, in an evening like tonight, I was painstakingly working on the final version of my cookbook. I enjoyed every moment of that process and never for a second I thought what would have happened later. I wrote the book because I love books. I also wrote it because I had a story to tell. Honestly, I never thought it would sell or bring me anywhere. I just thought it was a wonderful project for the long Umbrian evenings.
A year later and after more than 1000 copies have been sold in 3 continents I still cannot believe that in a few weeks I will take off for a book tour in the US. And how exciting! I will bring out my stories about Umbrian rural life as well as my ideas about good food and cooking. I havent’ been across the Atlantic for over 15 years, everything will be like new.
So many friends have generously helped me to organize this trip, hosting me in their homes and arranging for me to present the book at various public events. I could have been away literally for months as I had so many invitations.
It has been difficult to say no and I really wish to visit you all but I can’t be away from my family and from Alla Madonna del Piatto for such a long time. However, I want you to know that I am deeply grateful for every single gesture of generosity that I have received from all of you!
For those who did not know of my trip, please check my posts on FB, I will be in Seattle, Boise, Palm Springs and Nashville. There will be book signing events and, if the location allows, a pasta demo, a glass of Scacciadiavoli fabulous wine and/or a tasting of the delicious olive oil of my good friend Corinna of San Potente.
Come to see me please, if you are nearby, I’d really love to meet you.
- 120 g (4 oz) diced guanciale
- 1 recipe fresh stringozzi
- 600 g (26 oz) tin crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoon finely diced onion (about 1/4 onion)
- a splash of white wine
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 fresh chili pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated pecorino per person
The Amatriciana or Matriciana is a simple sauce from the village of Amatrice in Lazio. Even though it comes from a village which is 2 hours away from the capital, the recipe is considered a classic of Roman cuisine and it even has a protected status. This is my Umbrian, semi-orthodox adaptation served with our rustic stringozzi. If you have no time to make fresh pasta, you can obviously use the traditional bucatini or rigatoni, about 100 g (3 oz) per person.
In my opinion however, the use of fresh pasta promotes the dish from an everyday meal to a special treat worth of a dinner party.
In a pan which must be large enough to hold all the pasta, fry the guanciale in a 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Make sure to cook on low heat and only until just crispy, more and it will be bitter or too salty. Set aside.
In a different pan, saute the onion on low heat in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil until translucent then increase heat and deglaze with white wine. Add the crushed tomatoes, lower the heat again, cover and cook for 10 min, until slightly reduced and creamy.
To cook the pasta follow my basic instructions, using a tall stockpot with plenty salted water as explained here.
At this stage it is important to have everything ready and the sauce warm before starting to cook the pasta. Stringozzi overcook easily and becomes a miserable gloppy mess, so please no distraction in the last 5 minutes!
Fresh stringozzi cook in one minute, as soon as they float, heat the pan with the guanciale. When they get to a rolling boil they will be ready but still quite al dente. Strain and transfer into the pan with the fried guanciale, add 1/2 ladle of pasta water and stir vigorously. Add the tomato sauce and the fresh chili pepper and stir some more to incorporate.
Serve immediately with a sprinkle of pecorino and a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil.
PS. the stringozzi in the photo are hand cut and hand rolled, so they look thicker than those in the original recipe. The whole chili pepper is for decoration, normally I dice it really small and stir into the pasta as explained above.
As you might have noticed, I only combine all elements, tomato sauce, guanciale, chili, cheese, at the very end, to keep the distinctive flavor of the ingredients.