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Things have been very stressful at home lately, with the real-estate search in full swing and a massive work deadline hanging over my head. I've never been busier before in my life. Blogging is one thing that's fallen to the wayside. Another is cooking itself. Earlier this week, we ordered take-out. The other night I had frozen empanadas. Last night though, I was sick of crap food. I was tired. It was late. Santa Maria was exhausted, having driven through the blizzard to return to NYC from a speaking commitment outside Philadelphia. Nonetheless, I had a deep desire for something tasty. My thoughts turned to amatriciana sauce.

Years ago, Santa Maria introduced me to a variation on this savory sauce. She first had the sauce on the very first day of a visit to her delightful friend Carla, in Rome, in 1989. Carla is a Scottish-Roman beauty who is now cooking up a storm in Bruxelles, and sometimes in Tuscany. Santa Maria made it with rosemary and pancetta, and I loved it. Those were more simple times. We didn't have kids, and I didn't know that "for any pasta all’amatriciana to be authentic, it must be made with guanciale — cured, unsmoked pig jowl." Or that "it's impossible to say 'all'amatriciana' without thinking of 'bucatini,' a thick hollow spaghetti."

These days I don't have any @#$!% time for such frivolity. Last night, I was hungry, and when I'm hungry I'm not good company. Things were tense at home, and I wasn't making them any less tense. I couldn't find a recipe for the sauce in the index of any of my cookbooks. Never mind securing guanciale or bucatini, I couldn't spell "Amatriciana." I thought it started with an "M." Finally, I figured it out, and found a recipe for it in Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking."

It called for pancetta, which I didn't have, but I knew there was bacon in the fridge and that that would work just fine. It didn't mention rosemary, but that didn't deter me. The dried herb is a bit tricky to work with. Santa maria doesn't like the way it can feel like pine needles on the tongue, so I tried chopping up the stalks. It helped a bit, though she wasn't really in the mood for the sauce in the end. I liked it, and I was glad I went to the little effort required to make it. It made my night much better.

Blink of an Eye Pasta Alla'Amatricina Sauce

  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • One 28oz can of peeled plum tomatoes, pureed with an immersion blender or chopped by hand.
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, diced
  • Parmigian0-Reggiano or pecorino cheese, grated

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pot.

Add the chili pepper.

Add the onion and saute until translucent.

Add the bacon and continue to cook for a few minutes longer.

Add the tomatoes and the rosemary and simmer for about twenty-five minutes.

Serve over pasta of your choice with the grated cheese.

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