Mark Leslie knows pasta. He is the author of Beyond the Pasta, a memoir with recipes from his experiences in Italy, where he learned the mastery of cooking his noodles with everything from pollo to pomodori and beyond. Though he works as a stage manager in professional theater, Mark travels to Italy each year to fulfill his passion for everything Italian, and he keeps fellow pasta fanatics up to date on his blog.
I love it when the Italian language takes the meaning of one word and uses it to explain another. The “spicy heat” in this penne all’arrabbiata con panna dish is reflected in the word “arrabbiata,” which means “to go mad” when applied to dogs and “to be angry” when applied to people. To increase your “rage” or the “foaming of the dog,” add dashes of pepper sauce to your plate at the table until you scream or howl at the moon!
How spicy do you like your penne all’arrabbiata? Share your war stories in comments.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 (1/4- inch thick slices) bacon, cut into 1/4- inch cubes (smoked pancetta is preferred)
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced into half rounds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound penne rigate
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano- Reggiano, for garnish
- 1 (28- ounce) can whole peeled Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), placed in a bowl and crushed by hand, reserving all of the liquid
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cubed pancetta and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the onions are translucent and starting to turn golden, stir in the red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, their juices and salt, stirring until well combined, bringing the tomatoes to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce thickens, 18 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the penne pasta in boiling salted water. Remove and drain the pasta just before it is al dente, a minute or two less than the package’s recommended cooking time. Add the slightly undercooked pasta to the finished sauce over medium heat, stirring until well mixed.
- Stir in the cream and cook until the pasta is al dente—firm but tender to the bite—and the cream has cooked into the sauce, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with the grated cheese.