Forget what I said about autumn, how excited I was about it and how great and cosy and lovely and russet it would be. Now I just want to climb under my duvet and stay there until it’s all over. Or at least until we get to the bit where there are holidays.
Fortunately, River Cafe Week Two delivered a couple of stand out recipes that lightened my dreary days, as I hope they will yours too. The first one is called bucatini con acciughe (that’s bucatini with salted anchovies, and it’s only just occurred to me that that last word might sound a bit like a seasonal sneeze). I love anchovies. They come very high up my list of small salty things that I like, above capers and olives but below, um, salt. Any recipe that involves making a sauce by melting anchovies into garlicky olive oil is alright by me. And then when you add chilli and lemon zest and parsley and you somehow get something darkly savoury but also fresh and salty and citrussy and mmmm, you accidentally ate all of the sauce, half of which you meant to leave for your boyfriend. But it’s OK, you left him a note instructing him to make more. You wouldn’t want him to miss out.
The other good thing about this dish is the pangratto, which is sourdough breadcrumbs which you’ve gently fried in more garlicky olive oil until they’re toasty and crisp and sort of taste pleasantly of grease without being greasy. I’m also strangely drawn to recipes that contain more than one type of carbohydrate, so this was really the icing on the cake (or the potato on the pizza, if you will).
Second dish to follow…
Bucatini with salted anchovies Serves 4
The recipe is very instructive on the Cantabrian anchovy and the Mediterranean anchovy and the relative merits thereof, specifically advising you to “avoid the little jars”. Well, I chose to ignore them as a little jar was what I had and it tasted very nice to me. That said, it’s probably best to up the amount you use if you do the same as proper anchovies are bigger. I kept the amount the same but more sauce would have been good. Mmmm, tasty salty sauce.
For the sauce:
4 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
12 salted anchovy fillets, from a tin, sold in Italian, Spanish or Greek delis, washed and chopped (or more of the small ones from a jar – maybe 18? No need to wash or chop)
2 dried red chillies, crumbled
zest and juice of one lemon
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
350g bucatini or pici (I used linguine – well, if you’ve already used anchovies from a jar…)
For the pangratto:
100ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled but whole
1 small ciabatta loaf, crusts removed, pulsed into breadcrumbs in a food processor (oh, and I used a chunk of sourdough. And I left the crusts on. This made a lot of breadcrumbs, anyway)
Start with the pangratto. Heat the oil in a large frying pan (they say small pan, but then I couldn’t fit in the immense amount of breadcrumbs) and cook the garlic cloves in it over a low heat for around 5 minutes until brown. Remove the garlic from the oil and discard. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan, push them down into the oil and cook until crisped and brown. They say 5-10 minutes, I say more like 15. They also say to drain them on kitchen paper, but mine just kind of absorbed all the oil so I left them.
Put the pasta on to boil. To make the sauce, heat the oil (the other lot) in a medium sized pan. Fry the chopped garlic for a couple of minutes until coloured and then reduce the heat as low as it will go. Add the anchovies and break them up with a wooden spoon until they melt. After about 5 minutes, crumble in the chillies and season with pepper. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest and juice and the parsley. Taste – you can now add more olive oil if you want to thin it out.
When the pasta is cooked, drain (keeping back a little of the cooking water). Add the sauce to the pasta with the reserved water and toss over a low heat for a couple of minutes until the sauce coats the pasta. Mix in the pangratto and serve. Feel a lot better now.
From Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’ ‘The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook’.