Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Puttanesca

A perennial favorite, and great kid food that also satisfies a more sophisticated adult palate, I find that this is one of those dishes- like penne all'arrabiata- that is deceptively hard to get just right. The key (apart from cooking the pasta properly) is the integration of the various strong flavors into a near-seamless whole within a sauce that has to be just reduced and oily enough to coat the pasta. When it's done right, it sings four-part harmony and transcends its humble status; it becomes the perfect plate of pasta, the Platonic Penne.

5 comments:

Zoomie said...

One trick I learned from watching Lidia Bastianich on TV is not to rinse the pasta but to leave that starchy layer on as it helps the sauce to cling.

peter barrett said...

I never rinse the pasta- it goes right from the pot to the sauce to finish. Something home cooks never get to use is a splash from the big restaurant pasta pot that's full of super-starchy water from all the orders already cooked; it's a fantastic thickener for sauce.

Zoomie said...

I'm getting the impression that you are more than the average home chef! :-) Did you/Do you work in restaurants? You can tell me to MYOB if you want (Mind Your Own Business)

peter barrett said...

I was a private chef about 10 years ago, but I'm self-taught. I did live in France and Italy for a while, though, and did a lot of eating.

Zoomie said...

Know what you mean about France and Italy - just eating there is a constant lesson in eating well!