Photo courtesy of the Audrey Hepburn Estate Collection
From Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week: Audrey at Home by Luca Dotti
Spaghetti al Pomodoro
1 pound (500 g) spaghetti
3 pounds (1.5 kg) vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and coarsely diced
1 onion, peeled and left whole
1 stalk celery, cleaned and left whole
1 carrot, peeled and left whole
6 basil leaves, chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fine and coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Start by cooking the tomatoes in a large covered pan over a high heat, with the onion, celery, and carrot for about 10 minutes to soften the vegetables.
Remove the lid and keep the boil for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Lower the heat to medium-low, and add the basil leaves and a drizzle of oil. The tomato sauce is ready when, as they say in Naples, “pipiotta,” in other words when the bubbles are no longer made of water but rather small craters of sauce. Remove from the stove, discard the largest vegetable chunks, and allow the sauce to cool.
A stainless-steel vegetable mill—the hand-operated type—is necessary once the cooking is complete, in order to transform the tomato sauce and pieces of vegetables into a puree of the right consistency. It will also remove the bitter skins and tomato seeds. Add a drizzle of olive oil and adjust bitterness with a pinch of sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To cook the spaghetti al dente, fill a large pot with cold water and place over high heat. When the water comes to a boil add a handful of coarse salt and the pasta, without breaking it. When done, remove it from the stove (perhaps even a minute sooner than the cooking time suggested on the package). Drain in a colander and add the pasta to the sauce with a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix well and garnish with a few basil leaves.
Mum also loved pasta all’amatriciana. The classic version is prepared by cutting some guanciale (cheek lard) into small strips and browning in a small skillet until crisp. If guanciale is not available use pancetta or bacon. Add to the pureed sauce and simmer over low heat for a few minutes. Mum’s version was lighter; she used prosciutto crudo instead of guanciale, and once it was browned, she blotted the fat using paper towels.
Reprinted with permission from Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother’s Kitchen by Luca Dotti (Harper Design).
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