Tuesday, February 19, 2008

V-day weekend

I panic on airplanes, ever since moving to Alabama and flying back to Austin, I started to panic days before the trip, constantly looking at weather maps. My boyfriend tells me to calm down, but I never do.
This last trip was better than most, I could still breath when we landed and I didn't get sick. Then I landed and found my connecting flight was going to be a hour and half late. I paced, I sat constantly moving my leg. I made it to Austin two hours late for my Valentine's date.
But the moment I saw my boyfriend, I knew everything was alright. He was at the airport dressed to impress with irises. (Have I told you how lucky I am?) We get back to the apartment and I am told to relax. My Valentine's present was a home cooked meal. So I sipped my glass of wine and waited, trying to keep my hands off him.
Few minutes later, shrimp and broccoli scampi crosses in front of me. Oh how I wanted to dig in right away. I didn't. I sat patiently waiting for him to make his plate, then after chiming our glasses together I dug in. Boy was I blown away! It was so good. It was better than my shrimp scampi a couple months ago.
His comment, "I followed the recipe this time."
I just laughed, since I taught him to cook, meals often prepared without my presence as chances to go a stray. This means there is no recipe involved. But no matter what happens, I always appreciate him cooking like he appreciates me cooking.
And don't think I didn't cook this weekend. I picked up spare ribs at the farmer's market and made oven roasted ribs, which caused major face messes. But that is the true test to any good recipe, how messy your eater devours it!
My other success this weekend is making Bucantini all’Amatriciana. I've made it twice since the NYT article came out. And when it did I instantly went looking for guanciale (a brined pork herbed with spices, like bacon, but so much better). I instantly went to Mario Batali's deli in Seattle--$21.99 not including shipping. So I googled it, could I find it in Austin?
I found my answer, and soon found guanciale in Austin. I went forwarded and followed the recipe on chow.com. But I found it odd that I would have to add oil before cooking the guanciale. So this time, I went without it and had crispy guanciale. My boyfriend agreed the change made a difference. So here's my version. Hope your V-day weekend was as spectacular as mine.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana
(adapted from chow.com recipe)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves
3 thick slices guanciale (about 1/3 pound), cut into 1/2-inch squares
4 fresh tomatoes
2 small dried red chile peppers
1 pound dry bucatini or spaghetti
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano for serving

Cook guanciale until crisp or slightly brown, add in onion and garlic, sauteeing until tender.
Add tomatoes and their juice and a generous pinch of salt. Crumble in chile peppers, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered until sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook bucatini according to the package directions. Reserve about 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, drain pasta but do not rinse, add to the frying pan, and toss to coat in sauce. Add reserved pasta water if needed to thin the sauce.
Transfer to serving plates, sprinkle with Pecorino Romano, and serve immediately.

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