When I worked at Carrabba’s in my early 20s, we served a dish called cavatappi all’amatriciana. The customers loved it. It looks like a basic tomato sauce, but it’s also made with bacon and white wine. It’s a rustic sauce and a welcome deviation from the traditional marinara or Pomodoro.
I used to always start chopping fresh garlic by whacking it with the side of a chef’s knife. But recently, I found what I think is an easier method. Instead, I separate a clove. Then I chop off the base of the clove, and the peel comes off easily without getting the sticky garlic juice on your hands and knife.
This recipe includes deglazing the pan. I’m currently keeping a running glossary of cooking terms here. All that means is that you use an acid (usually citrus juice, alcohol, or broth) to scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan. This step comes after we sauté the bacon, onion, and garlic. Deglazing adds a lot of flavor to the dish, and all the alcohol cooks out of the wine. Just make sure you leave the pan uncovered.
The whole thing takes about 30 minutes to cook. It’s a budget-friendly meal. It’s also a good way for kids to step outside their comfort zone a little, but still familiar enough for them to try. If you are making it for kids, I’d recommend using half or one-third the amount of Calabria chili paste. And if you don’t have Calabria chili paste, you can get it here or use red pepper flakes.
This dish goes well with a simple tossed green salad, a glass of the wine used for cooking, and a sprinkling of salty cheese. This time I used freshly grated Asiago, but you could use parmesan or Romano.
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy
1 pound of thick cut bacon
1 pound whole wheat linguine or your favorite dry pasta
1 medium sized onion
4 garlic cloves
1 ½ cup white wine (I used Sauvignon blanc, but you can use whatever you have)
One 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3-4 tablespoons of Calabria chili paste
Cracked black pepper
Freshly grated Asiago cheese
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves cut in a chiffonade
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Leaving the bacon stuck together, slice it into about 1/3 inch slices. Chop the onion, and chop the garlic cloves.
- In a large stock pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until it’s done, about 12-15 minutes. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta, and cook according to the package instructions.
- When the bacon is done, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the grease. You want to reserve about half of the bacon fat in the pan. The rest you can discard.
- Cook the onion in the bacon fat over medium for about 6-8 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and be sure to scrape off the bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the tomatoes and Calabria chili paste (or red pepper flakes). Add the bacon back to the pan. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened back up.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Top with freshly ground black pepper, Asiago cheese, and a chiffonade of fresh basil.