Jimmy had raved about Carbone from the time we started dating. He loves food and going out to eat but I had never heard him fall for something as hard as he had than the Spicy Rigatoni at Carbone. When I finally got the chance to try it, it was worth the hype; love at first bite.
I have tried countless times to remake this dish (cornered a server or two at the actual restaurant for tips) and have scoured the internet for clues and I finally think I’m pretty close. Without having the exact recipe or having an Italian chef at my disposal, this is the recipe that I’ve come up with and it’s not only garnered approval from the discerning palate of, Jimmy, but also that of a group of my hungry pasta loving friends that we entertained on Saturday.
There are a few keys to the success of this dish that truly can’t be overlooked.
- Calabrian chili pepper paste. You can buy it on Amazon and if you’re in Toronto, you can also now pick this up at Eataly
- I know, I know, sugar is the devil, but trust me, it is an angel in this recipe
- Onion soubise – there are a few ways to make this but I have tried it all of the ways and have found blending it with the cream the ultimate in creaminess without the sauce separating and having an onion flavor minus stringy onions
2 medium yellow onions thinly sliced
5 tbsp of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of water
1 and a 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic smashed and chopped
4 tbsp of tomato paste
2 – 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes drained and chopped
1 and a 1/2 tbsp of sugar
1 and a 1/2 tbsp of Calabrian chilli paste – I use two but I like it with a good kick, if you’re nervous with spice start with 1 tbsp
1 pound rigatoni
- in a medium saucepan melt butter until foaming over medium heat
- add onions and water and cook, stirring frequently (you don’t want your onions to burn)
- after around 20 mins when the onions are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, stir in the cream and let it simmer on low for around 5 mins
- transfer the onion/cream mixture to a blender and blend on low, gradually increasing until the mixture is smooth
- set aside
- heat olive oil in a large pot and add garlic, sauté until fragrant
- add tomato paste with the tomatoes and sugar and stir to combine, seasoning with salt to taste
- let simmer for around 15 mins
- while simmering, make your pasta – bring a large pot of water to a boil with a generous amount of salt and some olive oil
- cook your pasta to al dente
- while your pasta is cooking (and 15 mins has passed) stir in the onion soubise to your sauce
- once combined, add in chili paste
- when pasta is cooked, drain but make sure to reserve at least a cup of pasta water
- return pasta to the pot and spoon the sauce over the pasta, tossing to combine
- add pasta water a little bit at a time to loosen up the sauce and add until you get your personal desired consistency
Fact: cheese makes everything better.