02.21.09: Viva Roma!

The cold New England winter months makes the prospect of curling up on the couch with a great movie and dinner extremely appealing, but it’s an idea that can benefit from a little creativity. So Elizabeth proposed the idea of watching Frederico Fellini’s masterpiece 8 1/2 and making dishes hailing from around Rome, as a bulk of the filming was done in that general area.

The movie itself is fantastic, but how was the food? Take a look and find out! (For the sake of authenticity the meal comes as a first pasta plate then a second meat or fish plate.)

Prima piatti:

Pericatelli all'Amatriciana

Pericatelli all'Amatriciana

This dish, though popular in and around Rome, actually hails from Amatrice, which is a town in the neighboring region of Abruzzo. There are lots of ways to make it, depending on the time of year, but I must say we were pretty pleased with our version which packs a little heat via crushed red pepper and fresh jalapeno.

Pericatelli all’Amatriciana

  • 1 lb pericatelli, bucatini or spaghetti
  • 1 15-oz can of diced tomatoes (our suggestion: Del Monte Petite Cut with garlic and olive oil)
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/4 lb of pancetta, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup each grated Parmagianno and Pecorino cheese
  1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil, cook pericatelli to package directions, about 6-7 minutes. Drain; set aside.
  2. Over medium heat in a skillet, cook pancetta to render the fat out of the bacon (about five minutes), then remove the pancetta and reserve. Add onions, and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes and jalapeno and cook for another 30 seconds.
  3. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and pancetta, and simmer on medium-low heat to allow the sauce to thicken. Add cheeses to the sauce, then pasta–toss to coat and add extra cheese on top if desired.

Segundi piatti:

Roman-Style Lamb

Roman-Style Lamb

This is another dish that has several versions–we used lamb shoulder blade chops that were already cut up into 3-inch pieces (we purchased a little over two pounds, or two packages), browned them in a cast iron grill pan and drizzled the garlic, white wine, white wine vinegar, rosemary and oil over them and let them cook for about an hour, adding more white wine to keep the meat moist. It’s important to use bone-in chops here–boneless would likely dry out quickly.

Abbacchio Alla Romana (adapted from Mario Batali)

  • 2-3 lbs lamb shoulder blade chop, preferably cut into 2-3-inch pieces (if only the whole blade is available, have butcher cut the meat for you)
  • 4 cloves garlic (keep 3 whole and one chop finely)
  • Olive oil (about two tablespoons)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, lightly chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup white wine, plus more for cooking process
  1. In a large skillet or grill pan, heat the oil over high heat and then add the butter. Add garlic cloves and saute until they start to brown, then remove and reserve.
  2. Add the pieces of lamb and brown on all sides. Meanwhile combine rosemary, chopped garlic, salt, vinegar and mix well. Cover the lamb with this mixture, add back the garlic cloves, and cook over medium-low heat for about an hour, using the wine to keep the meat moist.

We hope this inspires you to find a great movie and plan a meal full of new dishes around it! Great food, great films, adding to your kitchen know-how… win-win-win!

  1. This is one of my favorite dishes to make here in Rome.

    I came over from Diana’s blog. I will def. be back to check out other recipes.

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