Rigatoni con Crema di Pomodoro e Pancetta Affumicata
(aka: Rigatoni with Creamy Tomato and Smoked Italian Pancetta)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1/4 pound smoked pancetta, chopped
2 large ( 1 pound) tomatoes, coarsely chopped
8 leaves fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream (may sub half and half)
1 box (16 ounces) Rigatoni
2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Heat pancetta in large skillet over medium heat about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pancetta from skillet and drain fat.
Heat oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
Add pancetta, tomatoes, basil and seasoning. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in cream and continue cooking 2 additional minutes. Pour tomato cream mixture into blender or food processor; blend until creamy.
Cook Rigatoni according to package directions; drain and return to pot. Add tomato cream sauce; toss.
Sprinkle with cheese; transfer to serving platter. Garnish with additional basil, if desired.
Notes: Now, I really didn't follow the recipe to a 'T'. First off, I increased the recipe by about half. I browned the onion in the pancetta drippings, used less oil, and chopped up about 5 or 6 medium-sized tomatoes for the sauce. It didn't quite look like enough, and it was sorta runny, so I threw in one can of Italian-style stewed tomatoes, along with about half a can of tomato paste. Well, that made it too thick. So I thinned it with about a 1/4 cup of water, and then finally added the cream (I used half 'n' half). I only put about 3/4 of the sauce in the blender, and kept the rest chunky to keep the sauce meaty and robust. For the cheese, I got lazy and used a pre-shredded Italian 3 cheese mix.
Here's how the finished product looked:
Since it was such a lovely night, we dined alfresco. Here's what our table looked like before we dug in. Not pictured is the garlic bread (it had a few minutes left in the oven), and the nectarine cheesecake we had for dessert.