Thursday, December 15, 2011
These little devils pack a lot of punch. So I learned when I absentmindedly tossed a bunch into a simmering red sauce. Let's just say the sauce wasn't as angry as it was furious. The next time I carefully counted out the peperoncini—just six of them—to achieve a pleasant warm heat, the perfect level of arrabbiata.
Cavatelli with Angry Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced
½ small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 dried peperoncini, minced
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe Fresh Cavatelli
Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmegiano-Reggiano, for serving
Heat a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the pancetta and fry, tossing frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to a plate. Add the onion to the pan and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and peperoncini and sauté for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Return the pancetta to the pan, add the tomatoes (along with their liquid), and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon, for about 45 minutes, or until thickened and saucy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook the cavatelli in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 10 to 12 minutes, or until al dente. Drain the cavatelli when it is al dente. Add the cavatelli to the sauce and toss to coat. Arrange on individual plates, top with plenty of cheese, and serve immediately.
Serves 4. In Italy, chiles are known as peperoncini. Fiery and flavorful dried peperoncini can be found at well-stocked Italian markets. Quality ones are pliable and easy to mince. If they are unavailable, use several pinches of red chile flakes in their place. You can substitute 1 pound store-bought pasta for the Fresh Cavatelli, if you must. A splash of heavy cream is nice addition to the sauce.