It’s not just any chef who gets to cook in the Iron Chef kitchen and the Muppets Kitchen, but Cat Cora’s not just any chef. Born to a Greek family in Jackson, Mississippi and trained at the Culinary Institute of America, she draws from rich and varied culinary traditions on TV, in her own kitchen, and in her cookbooks. As anyone who’s ever seen her on Iron Chef knows, she works fast. And her speed really comes through in her recipes, which are designed for the busy home cook who wants to make something fast, fresh, and light.
We tried out Cat’s recipe for Bucatini Amatriciana with Bacon from her latest cookbook, Cat Cora’s Classics with a Twist, last night and we got to test first-hand how quick and tasty this cookbook really is. After putting our daughter to bed and making cupcakes for a school party, we needed to have a delicious dinner ready, and fast. This recipe really fit the bill. The sauce was spicy, savory, and rich and it proved to be simple, quick way to prepare an Italian classic. This is a recipe you’ll want to enter into your weeknight rotation.
Here at the Family Kitchen, we are all about easy delicious food. Last week, Stacie shared a fantastic recipe for her economical Bucatini all’Amatriciana. We liked her recipe so much, we decided to try out a version for ourselves!
Also, to learn more about Cat Cora’s philosophy as a parent and cook, check out babble’s interview with her and this sampling of some her other re-worked classics.
Cat Cora’s Bucatini Amatriciana with Bacon
Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pound smoked bacon, sliced thin and diced small
4 cloves of garlic, minced (1 heaping tablespoon)
1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup premium canned tomato sauce
1 cup premium crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bucatini
4-ounce chunk percorino cheese for grating
Place 8 quarts of water in a large pot, add the salt, and set over high heat.
While the water heats, in a separate 12-inch sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium heat just until the fat is rendered and the bacon pieces are beginning to crisp. Don’t overcook them.
While the bacon cooks, line a platter with paper towels. Remove the bacon from the pan and place on the prepared plate to drain.
Pour out about the bacon fat, reserving 2 tablespoons, which go back into the sauté pan. Add the onions to the pan. Sauté until brown, for 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté just until the garlic is lightly browned and aromatic, 2 minutes or less.
Pour in the tomato sauce and the crushed tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low, season with oregano, salt, and pepper and let simmer until the sauce thickens and the flavors meld, 15 to 20 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta. Break the bucatini in half and place in the boiling water.
Cook according to the package directions, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of pasta water. Put the pasta back in the pot and pour the sauce over the pasta. Add the bacon and toss to combine, and add a little of the reserved pasta water if the pasta isn’t saucy enough.
Divide the pasta among 4 to 6 warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated pecorino cheese and serve immediately.