Quality recipe #1

Well, from an Italian what could you expect as first post? Food! But quality food, because this blog is about quality, and you know that like our customers pretend quality services from us, we are also customers and we pretend quality from our "suppliers", right? So, while thinking and trying this fantastic recipe (let me know the outcomes and your "customers satisfaction"!), let's think to what we do on daily basis to satisfy our customers.
All in all it's about following a process, putting all the right ingredients in it and providing a product or service that is appreciated, with dedication to our customers! And then we want to measure their satisfaction, if something should be improved we'll make improvements of course because there is always room for that!

Now let's become serious, first of all some background information which are absolutely necessary...

The basis for the recipe begins in the 15th or 16th century when migrant shepherds living in a nearby town used readily available ingredients to make the classic dish pasta alla gricia. The ingredients were pecorino (a readily available sheep’s milk cheese), guanciale (salt-cured pork cheek), black pepper and dried pasta (the final three ingredients being resistant to spoilage). Pasta alla gricia became known as amatriciana bianca or the “white amatriciana,” referring to the color of the sauce made from the pecorino cheese.

Then, sometime in the 17th century, the tomato was introduced to Italy from the New World. It was only then that the Italian love affair with tomatoes began. Tomato sauces became a staple of Italian cooking, and eventually came to define Italian cuisine as it traveled with waves of Italian immigrants all over the world. The classic amatriciana bianca recipe was no match of this pomodoro invasion, and a generous portion of tomato sauce was layered on top of the original shepherd’s concoction. Somewhere along the way, red pepper flakes were added to the recipe to give it some spicy heat. Amatriciana bianca had transformed into amatriciana rossa and a canonical recipe was established.

Why "Amatriciana"? This is coming from the small city of Amatrice. It is always interesting when city signs in my country denote the birthplace of an emperor, or perhaps more importantly, the birthplace of a dish like spaghetti all’amatriciana. Such was the case in Amatrice.

Amatrice

OK, OK, too much words, let's go to the real thing... I believe this can be compared to "La Gioconda", look at it!

Amatriciana

Instructions (serves 4)

¾ pound guanciale, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
1 red onion, halved and sliced ½-inch thick
(note: you can make a good amatriciana also without garlic and onion if you don't like them!)
1 ½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups basic tomato sauce
1 pound bucatini
Pecorino Romano, for grating (even parmigiano could be good if you don't like the taste of pecorino)

1. Being 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

2. Place the guanciale slices in a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan in a single layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered from the meat, turning occasionally. Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard half the fat, leaving enough to coat the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. Return the guanciale to the pan with the vegetables, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions, garlic and guanciale are light golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Cook the bucatini in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Don't cook it too much! Drain the pasta and add it to the simmering sauce. Increase the heat to high and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese and serve immediately.

You can drink a good Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Cerveteri (red) or Frascati, Colli Albani (white) wine with this recipe...

BASIC TOMATO SAUCE
Makes 4 cups

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
(again, onion and garlic are optional)
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Salt, to taste

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Have a nice Amatriciana and let me know!

Pier

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