My husband brought home a cookbook on loan from a friend of his to show me. It’s from Italy, which means I’ll love it and it’s original publication was 1891, which makes it extremely interesting. I had never heard of Pellegrino Artusi, but according to the introduction, most Italians have. This cookbook is supposed to be a standard on every shelf in every kitchen. It does make good reading and had a lot of history about where certain dishes come from: Milan, Rome, France. Each recipe reads like a story, he tells a little bit about the dish then gives you an idea how to cook it. It’s up to you to create proportions, but he does include some technique. This is the first recipe out of his book that I used and I’m going to include his version, so you can get a flavor of what old Italian cooking is about, then I’ll list my version. His goes like this:
“Cut a large thick slice of untrimmed prosciutto into little cubes. Finely chop some celery and carrot which, heaped together, should equal the amount of the diced prosciutto. Saute all three ingredients, along with enough butter to flavor the tagliatelle. When the mixture begins to brown, add tomato sauce….Keep the tagliatelle al dente, and salt the water you are cooking them in very sparingly given that the sauce has prosciutto in it. Strain the pasta and dress it with the sauce and Parmesan cheese.”
Now here’s what I did with that:
About 1/2 hour, mostly active time
1 8.8 oz package of tagliatelle
1 large piece of prosciutto or 5-6 slices of bacon
3 tblsp butter
1-2 small carrots
1 stalk celery
2 cloves garlic
large sprig of fresh rosemary
1 dried chile de arbol
1/4 cup red wine
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, pureed (a hand held immersion blender is perfect for this)
3-4 tblsp chopped flat leaf parsley
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
-Put a large pot of salted water on medium-high heat. Dice the prosciutto or bacon, carrot, and celery into fine dice. Strip the leaves off your rosemary sprig and chop coarsely. Slice the garlic.
-Put a large saute pan on medium-high heat and heat for 1 minute. Add 1 tblsp olive oil and 1 tblsp butter. When the butter foams, add the rosemary and the dried chile (if you really like it spicy, crumble the chile into the pan). Let sizzle for a minute or so, then add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so, you want the garlic to cook, but not to brown. Then add the prosciutto/bacon, carrot and celery, 1 tsp salt and some pepper. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto is nicely browned and the veggies have softened.
-Deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring to loosen any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring, until the wine has evaporated. Add the tomato puree and bring to a simmer. Adjust heat to hold at a simmer while you cook your pasta, which should take 5-10 minutes depending on what type you have. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning as needed.
-At this point, your water should be boiling and you can add the pasta to the pot and cook. When pasta is just al dente, drain and add to pan with the sauce. Toss noodles to coat with sauce. Add the rest of the butter, about 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and toss to combine. Serve and top each serving with fresh parsley and more grated Parmesan.