martedì 1 maggio 2018

PASTA, ANCHOVIES AND CHERRY TOMATOES CONFIT


Italian Version Below

Three are the secret tricks  for this pasta recipe: the high quality of the pasta, the perfect cooking of the tomatoes and the "mantecatura", basically a way to combine the starch (from the pasta) with the oil of the seasoning, to have a creamy and well coated dish. Don't be generous with the salt, because anchovy are enough savory: I suggest to use the salt-packed variety, rinsed and dried. If you can't find them, the bottled ones are fine. Make sure that they are preserved in Olive Oil. 

PASTA, ANCHOVIES AND CHERRY TOMATOES CONFIT 

Serving 4
Timing: 10 minutes (plus 1 hour for the tomatoes confit)

INGREDIENTS

320 g pasta corta (penne, rigatoni, fusilli)

4 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves
10 anchovy fillets, debones and desalted (or well drained under current water, if preserved in oil)
2 Tbs fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
250 g  cherry tomatoes confit

for the tomatoes confit

250 g cherry tomatoes
fresh thyme
salt
2 Tbs Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

METHOD

1 hour before cooking the pasta make the tomatoes confit

Heat the oven at 160°C

Halve the tomatoes and put them on a sheet pan, lined with a baking sheet,  cut-sides up.
Season them with salt and fresh thyme (the leaves only), then sprinkle them with the Extra Vergin Olive Oil and cook them for about 1 hour, shaking the pan 1 or 2 times: they shall be wrinkled and frizzled, but still juicy. Take them off the oven and set aside.

Cook the pasta

Bring to a rolling boil plenty of water (usually, 1 liter /100 g pasta), add 1 Tablespoon coarse salt and wait for the water to come back up  to the boil. Add the pasta, all in once, and stir immediately with a long fork, for few seconds. Then, reduce the heat  (to avoid the pot boiling over) and cook the pasta 1 minute less then as directed on the packet. (7 minutes if the timing is 8, 9 if is 10 and so on).

Make the sauce

While pasta's cooking, in a large and deep fry-pan heat the Extra-virgin Olive Oil. Flavour it with the garlic, for 1 minute, always stirring. Remove them when they start becoming brown. Reduce the heat, add the anchovies and stir until they will be melted in a rough paste. Add the chilli flakes and  1 Tsp parsley. Mix well, turn off the heat and set aside.


Before draining the pasta, keep a cup of the cooking water and take it aside. Drain the pasta in a big colander, toss it in the pan with the anchovies sauce and finish to cook, at high heat, adding the starchy cooking water, moving the pan until the pasta is well covered by a creamy and silky sauce. At last, toss in  the tomatoes confit, so that they release their juice. Complete with the remaining chopped parsley and serve immediately.




The TIP....

  • Check the label, even for pasta. A good product has a percentage of protein between 12.5-13. From 13.5 to 14. it is an excellent product. If you start to use "pasta trafilata al bronzo" (a pasta with a rougher texture, from a peculiar method of production, that allow to better "catch" the sauce)  you can't get enough it. 
The TRICK...
  • The "mantecatura" of the pasta is different from the "mantecatura" of the Risotto: the meaning is the same (to combine starch with fat), the method is different. Get used to take aside a cup of the cooking water and to finish cooking the pasta into the pan with the sauce, at a high heat, to have a silky texture and a well coated pasta. 
  • Cook the pasta al dente. An order, more than a trick
The TWIST
  • In a small frying pan, cook 2 handful of fine breadcrumbs with a little bit of  Extra Virgin Olive Oil and one Tbs fresh chopped parsley, always stirring, for 1 minutes, until the breadcrumbs will absorb all the oil. Add them to the pasta, to complete the dish with a crunchy note. 


A voi la faccio semplice, visto che do per scontato che sappiate cuocere una pasta al dente e abbiate un buon occhio per i migliori prodotti. E' nato come svuota frigo, fra un catering e l'altro e l'unica critica di mio marito è che ne ho fatta troppo poca. Convengo con lui, perchè non ha molto senso lanciarsi in una operazione di riciclo degli avanzi e ritrovarsi con un etto di pasta rimasto dal pacco appena aperto... tanto valeva buttarla tutta, no?

I pomodorini confit vanno preparati un'ora prima, se non il giorno prima. Stavolta, hanno avuto una cottura più aggressiva, a 180°C, in modo che dopo un'ora erano belli raggrinziti all'esterno ma ancora sugosi all'interno, requisito fondamentale per potersi amalgamare al condimento senza spappolarsi. Ma ero un po' di corsa e dovevo arrangiarmi anche con i tempi. Se siete meglio organizzati, potete cuocerli più dolcemente e più a lungo. Scegliete comunque dei pomodorini di media grandezza, che poi taglierete a metà. Disponeteli in un unico strato su una teglia che li possa contenere tutti (io uso quelle da biscotti, rivestite di carta da forno), conditeli con poco sale fino, tanto timo fresco e un filo d'olio ed infornate

Mentre bolle l'acqua della pasta, preparate il condimento
In un'ampia padella,meglio ancora se dai bordi alti (tipo wok, er intenderci) insaporite poco olio extravergine con due spicchi d'aglio. Toglieteli appena iniziano ad imbiondire, abbassate la fiamma al minimo ed aggiungete una decina di filetti di acciuga, ben sciacquati sotto l'acqua corrente e, ovviamente, diliscati. Fateli sciogliere mescolando con un cucchiaio di legno. Profumate con un cucchiaio di prezzemolo fresco tritato e un po' di peperoncino in fiocchi, a piacere, dopodichè spegnete il fuoco e cuocete la pasta. 

Guardate il tempo di cottura indicato sulla confezione e scolatela un minuto prima: tenete da parte circa due mestoli dell'acqua in cui la pasta ha cotto, per usarla nella mantecatura sul fornello. 
Ritornate alla padella, accendete il fuoco a fiamma vivace, scaldate il condimento e versate subito la pasta. Scuotete la padella, in modo che il condimento inizi a ricoprire le penne (o i fusilli o i rigatoni o l'altro formato che avrete scelto) e aggiungete un mestolo d'acqua, per stemperare il grasso nell'amido e renderlo più avvolgente e cremoso. Se non fosse sufficiente, aggiungete anche l'altra acqua, sempre continuando a mescolare o, se siete capaci, a "saltare" la pasta in padella. 
Quando il piatto sarà ben legato, senza nessuna traccia di liquido, aggiungete tutti i pomodori e, sempre a fiamma alta, incorporateli alla pasta, con un cucchiaio: vedrete che i pomodori rilasceranno un po' del loro succo, che andrà a mischiarsi al resto del condimento, colorando lievemente il piatto. 
Tutte queste operazioni devono essere fatte velocemente, in modo che la pasta mantenga la consistenza di una cottura al dente. Calcolate un minuto, un minuto e mezzo al massimo. Alla fine dovrete ottenere un risultato simile a quello che vedete nella foto, con un sugo avvolgente e cremoso. Completate con un'altra spolverata di prezzemolo fresco tritato e servite subito. 

IL CONSIGLIO
  • non lesinate sulla qualità degli ingredienti tutti: per quanto riguarda la pasta, la trafilatura al bronzo è perfetta per trattenere bene il sugo. 
LO SCONSIGLIO
  • salate solo l'acqua di cottura, come fareste di solito. Non salate invece il sugo, visto che ci pensano già le acciughe
IL TOCCO IN PIU'
  • Aggiungete alla fine un po' di pangrattato ripassato in padella, con poco olio e prezzemolo, per dare una nota croccante al piatto. 







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