Normally a bit of weeknight pasta-for-one when Mrs Prick is interstate is not that interesting, but for a few reasons this Calamarata alla Boscaiolo, picked up from a recipe by Del Posto’s Mark Ladner in the current Lucky Peach, rates a mention. It’s just a simple dish of porcinis, tuna, tomato, and chili paste from Calabrese, but a very good, quick meal in a pinch. And, keeping with the issue’s “Apocalypse” theme, none of the ingredients go off; it’s the sort of thing a well-stocked pantry can always provide. Anyway, key points:
- Etymology is endless fascinating, as is what happens to recipes on the boat from the old country. Thus this is a boscaiola, but without the cream or bacon that makes the dish a staple of Anglo-Italian joints (just as proper carbonara does not swim in a sea of dairy). Boscaiola apparently refers to “woodsman’s pasta”, so the Prick suspects this version is closer to the original, authentic mark – though your traditional Italian “woodsman” probably would not have had jars of really lovely tuna from the Med in his larder, either.
- Calabrian chili paste is a revelation, I should have added more, and will next time. The sweet, jarred Italian tuna called for (as opposed to the sharper tinned stuff harvest God knows how and where) also makes a big difference. Sadly the Sicilian tomato paste (“solid like clay” in Ladner’s description) was nowhere to be found, though I did fry the hell out of the regular stuff, as called for – it almost felt like starting a Thai curry, and added a great bit of depth.
- Chef only calls for “just enough water to cook the pasta”, not the “gallons” of water most chefs call for. This is the only time the Prick went off-piste with this recipe: After a discussion the other day with Canadian blogatrice Canard Enchante about the differences between home and commercial kitchens, it is clear that even with a good Smeg range there aren’t enough BTUs coming out of a suburban gas hookup to bring a smaller amount of liquid back to the boil in anything close to an acceptable time.
- Tinned cherry tomatoes are actually preferable to the usual San Marzano plums for quick pastas; they hold their shape better and add a bit of definition.
- I should take food pictures with something better than this crappy Samsung phone.