I'm no stranger to cooking with booze, so why has it taken me this long to realise that pasta can be cooked in wine? The answer to that particular question may forever remain a mystery, dear readers. Or the answer may be that I AM A MORON.
I'm making amends now, and jeezo, amends never tasted so good. This is one of those very simple, sauceless pastas - pancetta, olive oil, a little butter, a hefty dose of garlic and a sprinkling of parsley provide enough yumminess - but the star of this meal is the wine-infused pasta. Yup - we're actually going to boil the pasta in red wine, until it turns burgundy and tastes divine. Isn't that just marvellous?
Use cheap wine, by all means (the recipe calls for a whole bottle, after all), but do make sure it's halfway-drinkable, otherwise the final dish won't taste as nice as it could. Oh, and vegetarians - leave out the pancetta, but be aware that you might need to add a little more salt to compensate. Fish-lovers can substitute a few anchovies in place of the pancetta.
Drunken Spaghetti (serves 4-6)
You will need:
- A big pinch of salt
- 425g spaghetti
- 1 bottle cheap-but-drinkable red wine
- A generous glug of olive oil
- A knob of butter
- 100g cubed pancetta
- 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- A handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Some Parmesan or Pecorino
- Pine nuts to garnish (optional)
- Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Once it has reached boiling point, add a good pinch of salt and chuck in the spaghetti. Cook for 3-4 minutes, drain and set aside.
- Using the pan you've just boiled the pasta in (tip out any water that's left in there!), pour in the bottle of wine and bring to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for a further 6-7 minutes until it's al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil and butter in a small frying pan. Throw in the pancetta, and once it starts to crisp, add the garlic. Take off the heat as soon as the garlic starts to colour - don't let it burn!
- By this time, the pasta should have absorbed most of the wine and turned burgundy. Drain the pasta over the frying pan and mix any winey juices with the pancetta and garlic. Now add the contents of the frying pan to the drained pasta in the saucepan.
- Stir well, add some parsley, and season to taste.
- Grate fresh Parmesan or Pecorino over each serving, and sprinkle over a few pine nuts if you're into that kind of thing. As you can tell from the photo, I am.