It starts the usual way sauces do—sauté onion and garlic, add some chile flakes, then booze, then tomatoes, but then it swerves off course. Here’s the secret to its success: You take this perfectly adequate sauce and roast it in the oven for an hour and a half.
I sometimes start my sauce by caramelizing my tomato paste in olive oil over the heat, then deglazing that with about 1/4 bottle of red wine. The sweet caramelized tomato paste/wine combo makes things really punchy in the end, even through a long simmer.
A whole bunch of us grew up eating chicken piccata at Italian-American restaurants with our parents, or at least I did, preceded by an entire serving of fried calamari, and breadsticks too. I’d eat every last little swipe of sauce, excited at how it made the back of my tongue water, at how smooth it felt, at how it draped itself over long strips of pasta. It’s a thrilling sauce. Even more thrilling is the fact that you can use it on any protein that goes well with lemon and wine. (Even tofu and chickpeas!)
Ramen is everywhere because ramen can be eaten with pretty much anything and in any style but more importantly because ramen is almost always delicious. Designer Fanny Cheuk Chu previously made a poster that detailed 25 different varieties of ramen but is back with a bigger and better version that includes 42 styles of ramen now. She illustrated them in her own unique style with descriptions on what makes each ramen variation unique (like what’s in the broth and what toppings are used). You will want to eat them all. Or at least I do.
I was skeptical until I read this charming background story on Food52–apparently it comes from a legit chef in Puglia by way of two super fun women who worked for Martha and were having a great night out.
Most instructions for cooking dried pasta are invariably the same: Drop the noodles into a pot of boiling water, bring it back to a boil, and keep it bubbling vigorously until the pasta is done. We already broke with this conventional wisdom by showing that you can cook pasta in a lot less water than is typically called for, as long as you don’t mind stirring it frequently.
Now we’ve learned that you don’t need to hold your pasta water at a rolling boil either. In fact, you don’t even need to keep the pot on the heat. The pasta will cook just fine if you take the pot off the burner as soon as you add the pasta, cover it immediately, stir once or twice during the first minute, cover again, and leave it to sit for the recommended cooking time. We tested this method with spaghetti, shells, farfalle, and ziti, using the full 4 quarts of water recommended per pound, and we found that the texture was identical to that of pasta we boiled the conventional way.
They suggest garlic, red pepper, fresh herbs, grated parmesan or romano cheese, olive oil, onions, even cannellini beans if you want to make it a little heartier.
If you decide to add aromatics like garlic or dried herbs, simmer them in olive oil first and add some of the cooking liquid from the pasta. The starches in the cooking liquid will help mingle the flavours together. Just before you serve the pasta, toss in those extra ingredients.
From now until January 2nd, you’ll be invited to many parties of the house, cocktail, and dinner variety. If you love to cook, making and bringing something won’t be a problem, but if you have the baking skills of a young Cher Horowitz, you may need to lie. By “lie” I mean “buy some food you did not make and pretend you did.” This isn’t honest, or righteous, or even very easy, but it can be done.