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Bucatini with spicy Corfiot sauce

Spices run in every Corfiot’s veins and this pasta dish is full of them

ingredients for 4 servings (cost about 2€ pp)
  • Salt
  • 320 g bucatini
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes
  • EV olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 allspice berries
  • a small piece of cinnamon stick
  • 10 black pepper grains
  • 40 g butter
  • 60 g parmesan

Spices are in Corfiot cuisine´s DNA.

Some historians consider that the extended use of spices has to do with the refugees who arrived in Corfu from Salonica after the Greco-Turkish war. I think they are not right. Corfiot cuisine is a light and European oriented cuisine, which is characterized by its delicacy, while oriental cuisine is heavy and very fatty.

Some other historians insist that the obsession with spices has to do with Venice and its conquests in the Far East. I am convinced that this version is also wrong, as in Venetian cuisine the use of spices is minimal.

Whatever the reason may be, the point is that if you want to prepare a real Corfiot dish, you have to use plenty of whole spices. And to grind them the very last moment. I must point out to those readers who have not yet read our tribute to the Corfiot cuisine, that spices in Corfu are sold at ……. pharmacies. Τhis is how precious they are for the locals.

Pasta dishes are common in Corfu and they are usually made with bucatini, the same shape which is used in Pastitsado, the island´s most famous dish.

The everyday, cheap pasta sauce, we present you today, is made with tomato and spices and it is finished with butter, something strange for an Italian pasta. Some say that the vast use of butter in local cuisine is a remnant of the Russians, but who knows? The history of Corfu is full of foreign conquerors and this same history is a part of its magic.

So, as you will already have understood, we begin from the spices. We add bay leaf, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and pepper in a coffee grinder and we turn them into a powder.

In a cold pan we add some olive oil and the garlic cloves, cut in slices. We bring to heat and, when they turn pale, we add the onions cut in small pieces and the spice mix. We lower the heat and we gently cook the onions, till transparent.

By the way, whenever we are using both garlic and onion, do you know when we have to start with the one and when with the other? Well, if we want the garlic to be front (as at this dish) we start with it. Otherwise, we start with the onion and we add the garlic, when the onion is almost ready.

Let´s get back to our dish. We add the tomato to the pan (cut with our hand in uneven pieces), we cover with the lid and we let the sauce simmer for at least half an hour. We add the butter, we salt the sauce and we set aside.

We fill a big pot with salted water, we bring it to a boil and, when ready, we add the bucatini for 1 min less than al dente. When the pasta is ready, we strain it and we transfer it to a pan with half the amount of the sauce for the “mantecare” process. So, we add a ladle of boiling water and we start stirring the pasta in order to create an emulsion with the tomato, the water and the starches of the pasta. We lower the heat and we add half the amount of the cheese, stirring continuously.

We put in plates and we add on top of the pasta the rest of the sauce and the parmigiano cheese.


Published in PASTA