Friday, January 29, 2016

bangin' bucatini

Some things in life should be simple.  Actually, MOST things in life should be simple (unlike in that movie "It's Complicated"). Mainly, food should be simple.  And yes, I know that I sometimes make extremely complicated things, but that's just because I'm a lunatic and bring it upon myself.  This next recipe is one of the most delicious and simple dishes to make, and it comes together in a flash! 

This recipe uses bottarga - which is salted, cured, and pressed mullet roe (usually grey) from Italy - but this ingredient is relatively expensive and sometimes hard to find.  If you do have it on hand or you can find it, lucky you! If not, you realistically can make this pasta omitting that ingredient and it will still be absolutely delicious.  Super simple, fresh, delicious, and easy! On to cooking!

Bucatini alla bottarga
Serves 4 small portions

4 oz. dried bucatini - about half of a standard package (you can also make your own pasta!)
5 T olive oil
1 T garlic, minced
1 t chili flakes (more or less, depending on the spice you like)
1/4 C parsley, chopped
1 lemon
Sautéed breadcrumbs (see below)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

First, fill a tall sauce pot about 3/4 full with water.  Add a few tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil.  Right as the water begins to boil, heat up the olive oil over medium-low heating in a large saute pan. Toss in the garlic and cook until golden but not burnt. Place your bucatini in the boiling water and swirl around until the entire length of each pasta is submerged (this will cook about 8 minutes until al dente - make sure to try a strand around 7 minutes until it's JUST al dente - it will continue cooking a bit in your sauce pan).  Right before the bucatini is done, toss in the chili flakes and allow to quickly toast.  The oil should be SUPER fragrant!

When the bucatini is ready, take tongs and place directly into the sauce pan - you don't have to let them drain completely because the starch water will help make a nice pan sauce! Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and toss/stir until each strand is completely coated with the garlic oil.  

Next, divide the pasta evenly between four bowls.  Garnish quickly, or else the pasta will get cold! Take a microplane and grate a 1/4 of the lemon over each bowl.  Next, grate about a teaspoon (or more if you'd like!) bottarga.  Sprinkle with the parsley and a hefty pinch of breadcrumbs, and finish with some fresh ground black pepper. 

Voila!  Easy as pie (note: pie is not that easy really.)  As stated before, this dish is absolutely delicious, and you'll most likely finish it within three seconds.  I have a strange affinity towards random pasta shapes, and bucatini is one of them.  It's like a thicker, hollow spaghetti.  It lends very well to the above dish, but quite frankly, you could also use spaghetti, linguine, or even angel hair if you're so inclined.  This dish is bright and savory all at the same time - the lemon zest and parsley really brighten it up, while the bottarga and garlic really give it a strong depth of flavor.  And don't forget about those breadcrumbs - they add an amazing crunch to the dish!  And finally, the chili flakes and black pepper add that subtle heat that really completes the dish.  All in all, this is super simple, quick and absolutely delicious. Get to cooking!


Sautéed Breadcrumbs
2 T olive oil
1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
Kosher salt

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the panko and toss to combine.  Allow the breadcrumbs to cook until golden brown, tossing occasionally.  Once golden, toss with a small pinch of kosher salt, remove from heat, and allow to cool.  The breadcrumbs get even crunchier once they've cooled down. Place in an airtight container until ready to use.