Drunken Spaghetti (Spaghetti ‘mbriachi)

No, I haven’t completely gone mad. This is an actual recipe I found in the March issue of La Cucina Italiana, an Italian food and cooking magazine I sometimes manage to get my hands on. This dish comes from the so-called Roman Castles area (Castelli Romani), a set of small towns on the Alban Hills, not far from Rome. After the fall of the Roman Empire, many wealthy and noble families decided to leave the ransacked capital to build themselves a fortified castle on the hills surrounding Rome and start over. Now the Castelli Romani is one of the biggest residential areas outside Rome and a very popular tourist destination too. Every year tourists flock there to take in its history and try its food and, most importantly, the local red wines.

This extremely simple recipe combines a few local ingredients, namely red wine, parsley, pecorino (a hard goat’s cheese) and chillies. The wine is slowly reduced to an almost syrupy consistency, while the pasta should be slightly undercooked so that it can absorb the deep red grape juice while cooking. The result is a non-alcoholic dish (the alcohol evaporates during cooking) which boasts bold and simple flavours without trying to mask them with unnecessary embellishments. If you can’t find pecorino, don’t worry. A strong cheddar or another cheese along those lines would do just fine.

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Ingredients

  • 500ml red wine (choose a good one)
  • 350g spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • pecorino, grated
  • salt

Method

  1. Pour the wine into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Cook for a good 20 minutes, until reduced to approximately 50ml or the liquid takes on a slightly syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, then add the spaghetti and cook until slightly harder than al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan, then add the finely chopped parsley (reserving some for decoration later), red chilli and garlic. Cook over a gentle heat for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and add the boiled down red wine.
  4. Drain the pasta reserving a ladleful (2-3 tbsp) of water, pour that into the saucepan then add the pasta and continue cooking, tossing frequently, over medium to high heat.
  5. To serve, plate the spaghetti and grate some of the pecorino on top, then sprinkle with some of the leftover parsley and enjoy!

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