I was torn between Marcella Hazan’s (her name be praised) bizarre because you can’t believe it will work and a basic pomodoro so I mashed the two together with some bucatini my wife picked up the other day. Bucatini has been a fixture in our house for years but lately she’s been coming back from Aldi with a selection of varied pastas. She’s sent me diving into my copy of the Geometry of Pasta and scanning suggested recipes from any of a dozen books and web sites.
It’s been fun. I’d never had casarecce, but thanks to her adventurous shopping I’ve learned that with arugula and cherry tomatoes it sings. Chittara needs bottarga and while I love rigatoni with pancetta, peas, and cream the best choice for that sauce is garganelli. But today is back to basics, or at least experimenting with basics.
The Hazan Sauce is from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I’m torn between sentimentalism and practicality because my copy of it, the greatest cookbook, is falling apart. Blocks of pages have dispatched with any relationship to the binding and I’m all but an antiquarian wearing white cotton gloves preserving it for the next curator to worry over. I use it all the time and sense would tell me that a new copy is in order, but my mother gave me the book I keep on hand, and despite it’s structural failings it’s important to me.
Her Tomato with Butter and Onions sauce is so odd to me because it’s preposterously simple and seems like it would be boring as hell, which it is for the first forty-four minutes of the prescribed (had to look that up – I have a prescribe/proscribe vocabular blind spot) forty-five minute cooking time. If you are a constant stirrer and taster like I am, the first attempt will drive you to despair. It’s so odd, but there is a late transformation from dull and thin to rich and sensuous.
It’s kind of shocking.
You just put five tablespoons of butter in a pan with peeled onion that is cut in half and 28 oz. of hand torn plum tomatoes and simmer for forty-five minutes. It’s wonderful. I doubted Hazan and was shown the error of my ways. All you have to do is remove the onion (save it, peal it apart, and stuff the larger pieces with ricotta and top with tomato sauce for a quick app tomorrow or Tuesday) and salt to taste.
My other thought was a simple pomodoro. It’s basic. Tomatoes and garlic with onion, a little red pepper flakes and fresh basil. A pomodoro differs from a marinara in that it’s pureed. I add white wine on occasion.
Todays mash up sauce is the Hazan butter and halved onion in a pan but I pomodored it with garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes. I decided against wine but that was just because I think my current open white is a touch off. Next time.
Simmer for forty-five minutes, remove the onion, puree, adjust for salt, and serve over bucatini cooked in heavily salted water with Parmesan or Romano and a little more fresh basil.
As messing with things that were fine already go, this might be the best thing I’ve done since I switched Alexa to an Australian Accent.
The Week That Was, Sort of
I’ve been bad about book reading lately. I’m still reading almost constantly, but my reading has tended toward essays rather than novels of late. I have this copy of P.J. O’Rourke’s A Call from The Middle that I’m dying to get too, but there is always a link to a David Marcus or Kevin Williamson that I need to check out first and before you know it I’m a thousand miles down a rabbit hole and my eyes hurt, my back is complaining, and I remember that I have kids.
I’ve been publishing over at ordinary-times.com which is a disastrous rabbit hole for the time conscious because it’s that enjoyable and covers a broad number of interests. Em Carpenter and Andrew Donaldson are stalwarts over there and Jennifer Worrel has been really fun lately. I could keep marching down the contributors list but to be clear, it’s a good site and worth your attention. Jaybird’s review of a mystery video game just wrested twenty bucks from me to buy a game that I know I have no time to play.
My latest over there is about the brilliance of Robert Graves. Check it out if you are so inclined.
I mentioned P.J. O’Rourke. I’ve been trying to get ahold of the High School Yearbook he and John Hughes put together for “National Lampoon” since my late teens. It’s always been a collectors item and at the moment it’s $400 plus on Amazon but they just released it on kindle for free. The problem is that all they did was take pictures of the pages and toss them out into the ether for downloads. It’s unreadable. So I bought a magnifying glass from Amazon. That caused a lot of squinching and annoyance but then I realized I could use an old computer with a touch screen to read it and zoom with ease. So I bought a new battery for my old computer from Amazon. The yearbook is too pixilated, if that’s the apt word, so I still can’t read it. That free download has cost me around $40 so far. Maybe I should just buy the $400+ copy and cut out the hemorrhaging.
As to tv (television,) movies, and other visual entertainment, I’ve been binging The Sopranos on HBO Max. I never watched past season three when it was in production and I’m baffled as to why I didn’t keep watching them. It is so well written and paced and even the characters specifically created to make you cringe are compelling.
The problem with the show is that’s absurdly addictive. I keep staying up too late and since the tv (television) doesn’t cut off just before I fall asleep on the couch I have to backtrack and figure out what I’ve seen. I’ve had it run up to five episodes to the dulcet tones of my snores. I don’t want to miss anything so I’ve started paying attention to the titles of every episode so I know where to go back too without accidently catching a spoiler.
That’s about it for me today. My oldest is loving his rehearsals for the school play and my youngest who won’t clean his room is finding all manner of other things to do now that we’ve revoked computer privileges until his floor is visible. I’m okay with that.
I love Marcella Hazan’s pasta recipes and I’ve been working through all of them (sixty-two if I count right). There’s a blog, there, if I can get my act together, but while I have the budget for bottarga, I think I’d need sponsors for the black truffle sauce ingredients…
Her Abruzzi Lamb and Tomato sauce might be my favorite from her books. You should definitely try it if you haven’t. https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pasta-abruzzi-style-lamb-sauce
Is that from Marcella Cucina? I don’t have it, but perhaps it’s time I did something about that. Amazon has several used copies. The lamb dish must be the only on in the cuisine of Abruzzi that doesn’t contain chilli – I must try it – thank you for the recommendation.
It is. Marcella Cucina. Maybe my favorite of hers.