Ang’s Pasta Alla Zozzano – Recipe of the Week

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( A combination of Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe and  Amatriciana)

Ingredients: Serving for 8

  • 800g of Bucatini pasta.
  • 8 X-large free-range eggs you’ll be using the yoke only.
  • 240g of freshly grated “Pecorino Romano” cheese (you can use Parmigiano if you wish but you won’t get that full body “Pecorino Romano” taste sensation in my opinion.)
  • 8 to 10 ounces (300g) of guanciale (pork jowl). If you can find guanciale di cinghiale (wild boar jowl) grab as much of it as you can, this stuff is nothing short of spectacular.
  • 2 or 3 frozen Rea hot Italian sausages, thaw them out overnight and remove the casing then separate all the meat so that it looks like “ground”. You can use homemade or other brands, but these are without question the very best.
  • 1 jumbo Vidalia onion (4 to 5 “) or 3 medium, finely chopped (do not substitute)
  • 2 (796ml) cans of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • Sal del Mar (sea salt).
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Fresh, fresh Bazil.
  • 1 tablespoon of pesto sauce
  • White wine

Preparation:

  • Finely chop your onions and put aside.
  • Remove the dark seasoned skin from the guanciale and discard (both sides) Then cut the guanciale into ¼ inch-thick by ½ inch long strips. If cut properly each strip should consist of fat, meat, and fat.
  • Take an extra-large deep-frying pan (remember that this pan will be the final preparation container for your pasta, make sure it’s going to be big enough) and add about 3 tablespoons of oil to it then put over med. heat. Once it’s up to temp. turn the heat down slightly (med-low) and introduce the guanciale. It’s important not to burn it so keep an eye on it and make sure to stir it around the pan frequently. The goal is to release the fat from the guanciale into the frying pan but not overcook it. This should take no more than 5 to 6 minutes depending on your heating element. Once the fatty portion of the guanciale becomes translucent remove it from the pan and put it aside taking as little of the oil with it as you can.
  • Turn the cooking surface back up to medium. You now have a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and the melted fat from the guanciale.  The perfect environment to sauté your sweet vedalia onions. Put the onions in when the oil is ready. You can test it by dropping in a little piece of onion, if it sizzles you’re good to go. Gently stir until slightly translucent, don’t overcook (6 to 8 minutes max.)
  •  Once the onions are ready add in about 2 ounces of white wine, (you may have to turn up the burner slightly) and burn off the alcohol, should be about 3-4 minutes.
  • At this point reintroduce the guanciale to the pan with the sautéed onions and wine sauce and add the ground sausage and gently stir them all together. You may have to turn your heat up a little in order to start the sausage cooking but once everything is sizzling turn it back down to medium or even medium-low. Keep in mind that the sausage will give off its own fatty oils as it cooks. Now add a generous amount of cracked pepper (1 teaspoon) along with just a pinch of salt. Cover and let it simmer away for at least 5 minutes or until sausage is golden brown. Be careful not to burn any of the meat. Stirring often is a good idea. Once done turn the element to low.
  • While you’re waiting put on a large pot of water big enough to cook your pasta. Turn the stove to high and once it starts to boil put in a generous amount of sea salt (1 tablespoon) and stir. Now bring the stove down to medium and let sit.
  • In a big dish or bowl put the 2 cans of  San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, do not pour in the juice, just the tomatoes. Now take a regular fork and gently crush the tomatoes until you achieve a rustic finish. You do not want to mush them all up, just break them apart so that they’re not whole anymore. You can add the juice from just one of the tomato cans and pour the other down the sink.
  • Once the sausage is cooked put a tablespoon of pesto sauce (the secret weapon) and stir it into the mixture thoroughly making sure to introduce it to all of that wonderful guanciale, onions, wine, and sausage.
  • Now introduce the rustic tomatoes to your mixture and you’re heading down the home stretch. Make sure to gently mix it all together.
  • Add the fresh basil (do not chop). Gently tear apart the leaves and put them into the pan on top of the Zozzano sauce. Be very generous with the basil, you can’t overdo it.
  • Cover this heavenly sauce and let it slowly cook for about 15 to 20 minutes on low heat. You can check on it periodically and gently stir it to make sure it doesn’t burn or stick.
  • At this point bring your pot of water to a boil once again (med-hi) and when ready drop in your Pasta and stir occasionally, especially at the beginning. If the cooking time on your pasta package calls for 10 to 12 minutes you should remove it at about 8 or 9 minutes because you will finish cooking it in the big pan that is holding the sauce. Your goal is to have your pasta “al dente” when it’s all said and done, nothing worse than overcooked pasta.
  • Now it’s time to make the special non cream, cream.
  • In a mixing bowl, stainless steel if you have it,  put in 8 egg yokes, approximately 100 to 125g of the pecorino cheese, some cracked pepper, and a pinch of salt and stir with a fork until it turns into a nice paste finish and let stand (the consistency should be almost like peanut butter)
  • The pasta should now be almost ready, slightly undercooked. Turn off the burner. Do not use a strainer, instead transfer the pasta from the pot into the pan full of goodness using a pair of tongs.
  • Once the pasta is all in the pan, take a cup full of the pasta water from the pot and put ¾ of it into the pan with the pasta and sauce and stir vigorously mixing it all together. I like to use the tongs to kind of stir it all together. This process is called “risottare” and is probably the most important part of this whole dish. You must work the pasta into the mixture over medium heat for at least 2 or 3 minutes (or even more) depending on how cooked it is, remember you want to have the pasta absorb the sauce but not go beyond al dente. Once there turn off the burner…..very important.
  • Now the final step in creating this magnificent threesome of pasta dishes. Take a tablespoon of the hot pasta water and mix it into the egg yoke and pecorino mixture until it has become runny. Now pour it into the frying pan and with the burner off continue stirring vigorously. It’s important to have the burner off because you don’t want the egg to fry you want it to emulsify with all of the other liquids and flavours turning them all into one creamy sauce sensation that will be magically absorbed into the pasta.
  • When you plate this incredible pasta use your tongs to create a little volcano-shaped mound in the middle of the plate and spoon generous amounts of sauce onto the top along with some of the guanciale pieces. Sprinkle on freshly grated pecorino cheese, and lots of cracked pepper serve.

Bone appetite!  

Angelo Viola

ANGELO VIOLA is one of Canada’s most recognized and respected outdoor enthusiasts. His passion for the outdoors and skills as a creative director / producer have served him well crafting a broadcasting career in TELEVISION and RADIO that spans over 30 years. His relentless pursuit of the ultimate adventure and the ability to share the moment with audiences landed him the “best jobs in the world”, co host of The Fish’n Canada Show, The Outdoor Journal Television Show and Outdoor Journal Radio. In 2010 Angelo was inducted into the Canadian Angler Hall Of Fame making him a true fishing legend.

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