Bigoli in (Anchovy) Salsa

First I would like to wish you a happy New Year and apologise for the paucity of recipes since I started last May! To my family and friends who have gently reminded me from time-to-time to get on with posting recipes, thank you for your gentle chiding – here we go!

I have wanted to try this recipe for a while since watching Rick Stein cook it in Venice during his From Venice to Istanbul television series for the BBC.  It has become one of Mr. Stein’s favourite dishes and having cooked it last night, I can see why.  It is incredibly easy to cook and absolutely delicious!

Bigoli is a type of pasta made in Venice.  It is rather like thick spaghetti and quite difficult to get hold of outside of Venice.  I happen to have some Pici Senesi which is a Tuscan pasta almost the same – a speciality of Siena where I bought it last year and which I used last night.  If you haven’t got any bigoli or pici senesi lurking in your larder Mr. Stein suggests using bucatini instead but I am quite confident that good old spaghetti will do the job just as well though the sauce does lend itself very well to a thicker type of pasta.

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Pici Senesi from Sienna
What you’ll need for two people as a main course or  four people as a first course is:

  • 200 – 250g (depending on how hungry you are) of either bigoli, pici senesi, bucatini or spaghetti
  • Salt for the pasta water.
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 8 anchovy fillets (tinned).  NB There are usually about 8 fillets in the small oblong tins you buy in the supermarkets.  Just in case, have a spare tin to hand.
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • Black pepper – around 10 twists of the mill.
  • Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley chopped.

What you’ll need to do:

  • Bring a large pan of salted water to boil for the pasta.
  • In a large frying pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat and then add the onion and garlic.  Cook slowly for 10-15 minutes until soft.
  • Add the anchovies giving them a good stir round the pan which will help break them up.  Interestingly anchovies very quickly start to break down once introduced to heat.
  • Add the chicken stock and let the sauce simmer until two-thirds of the liquid has evaporated.  What you want is a nice glossy coating sauce.
  • Taste and season with black pepper then set aside and keep warm whilst the pasta is cooking
  • Cook the pasta you have chosen until al dente or to your liking.  (If you are using bigoli or pici senesi for the first time you may be surprised by the length of time it takes to cook – about 23 or more minutes for the pici senesi for example)
  • Drain the pasta and add to the sauce.  Coat the pasta  with the sauce whilst stirring in three-quarters of the parsley.
  • Sprinkle the remaining parsley on top of each portion when serving.

I did not include salt in the list of ingredients other than for the pasta water because the saltiness of the anchovies and any salt in the chicken stock is sufficient for the dish.  If you think you may need more salt then add it at the black pepper stage but I don’t think that you will.

As you can see I drank the delicious Lugana (Zenato Villa Flora) from Lake Garda – available from Waitrose.

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Bon appetite!
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