This weekend the NewlyFED team headed up to Washington Heights, familiar territory for Clare, who spent a year on Fort Washington Avenue.
Our guest is Michael Crowley, an amazing pianist and chef who brings the same precision and focus to the kitchen as he does the piano.
We’ve known Mike for a few years, about as long as he’s dated Sean, who is Rockaway by birth and lineage but has lived all over the East Coast. Sean’s first cousin is our biffle Beth, and we’ve all had many fun nights on the beach, at the Compound (RIP) and at our annual Rockaway St. Paddy’s Day parade — which is actually when we first met Mike. He could kick it with us in such an intense environment, and we’ve been friends ever since.
For NewlyFED, he brings the same intensity of a 12-hour drinking fest to his Bucatini All’Amatriciana dish.
The pasta has a definitive kick, which can be adjusted easily with more or less red pepper flakes. While traditional recipes call for guanciale, it tasted great with chunks of pancetta.
Mike said he grew up with both of his parents loving to cook, but it wasn’t until he moved in with Sean in the city that he started trying out new things in the kitchen. Like so many NewlyFED guests, cooking is more fun when it’s with the ones you love.
Mike’s homemade sauce, by the way, is a riff on a Mario Batali recipe (much like the pasta itself) that features San Marzano tomatoes and grated carrots caramelized with onions for an added sweetness. It stood up well next to the red onions, smokey meat and red pepper but I imagine it tastes just fine over any kind of pasta (or with loaf of bread.)
Here’s Mike’s recipe:
3 cups homemade tomato sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 inch slab of pancetta cut into lardons (guanciale, or pork jowl is traditional)
1 large red onion chopped
5 garlic cloves sliced
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flake (to taste)
1 pound bucatini
Grated Pecorino Romano
Basil and parsley chopped for garnish
Fry the lardons of pancetta in a dry pan until crisp – let sit in paper towel to drain.
Dispose of all but a tablespoon of rendered fat, adding another tablespoon of olive oil to the pancetta fat.
Heat over medium high heat and sauté onions, and, red pepper flake for 5 minutes or until soft, adding the sliced garlic at the last moment.
To the mixture, add 3 cups of homemade tomato sauce, and let simmer. While simmering, boil bucatini in salted water until al dente.
Add pasta to sauce, adding residual pasta water if sauce has become too thick.
Allow pasta to finish cooking in sauce.
Serve on warm plates and garnish with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and basil and/or parsley.