I’m not quite sure how I’ve been able to do it, but evidently I’ve managed to (temporarily, at least) get Michael to embrace pasta quite a bit over the past two weeks. This particular dish, though, I can at least explain: with a newly-acquired wedge of pecorino fresco sitting in the fridge from Fairway, how could one not fantasize making something classically Roman, like spaghetti all’amatriciana? For hours the images of onions, tomatoes and pancetta cubes tangled in a lump of pasta tortured me; I couldn’t wait to make dinner that night.
There was only one problem: the deli beneath us doesn’t sell pancetta, and I had no idea where else to go.
I frantically wandered through the Appletree, asking the guys at the deli if they had it in the case, as well as scouring the tiny meat section to see if any hidden gems lay beneath stacks of smoked (and therefore unusable) American and Canadian bacon. No dice. It was getting later in the evening and at the time I had no knowledge of the closest Italian shop that might carry it, so I turned to a very frustrated Michael (who by this point was sick of me pacing back and forth in indecision, as well as my disbelief that the Appletree was in fact not Romeo & Ceseare’s) and acquiesced to his suggestion of using pork sausage in lieu of the bacon. It was a far more preferable solution than going out into the neighborhood hungry and frantically looking for pancetta, even if it meant we were no longer having the true dish anymore. Besides: the Italians are all about using what you have immediately available anyway.
The mushrooms were a last-minute addition because I felt like we should have something else, but not cutlets or thighs or chops. Seeing a package of plain button mushrooms, I suggested them to Michael, and wonders of wonders, he agreed. There was actually a little leftover stuffing and mushroom stems by the time we were done, but leave it to him to figure out a novel way of using them all up. How so? Stay tuned…