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Spaghetti all’Assassina

Hello! Welcome to Djalali Cooks. Today’s recipe is not for the faint of heart. Spaghetti all’Assassina essentially means ‘Spaghetti Killer’ and it’s an appropriate title. Though the results will have you marveling at the results of such an inherently ‘wrong’ way of making pasta. But when a finished dish’s every bite is a perfect bite, how can the process be so wrong? With pasta, we try so hard to have bouncy, al dente, perfectly tender pasta and with Spaghetti all’Assassina we are going to try and scorch it a bit. Are you ready to test your bravery? Let’s do it!

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A Few Considerations

Before we start, a few considerations. This recipe calls for passata, which is basically an uncooked, strained tomato purée. Widely available in Italy and Europe, we in the States can order it online. I found the Cook’s Illustrated recommended product here: Pomi Strained Tomatoes.

I am using the recommended De Cecco Spaghetti No. 12. This particular spaghetti is a little thinner than what I normally see at the supermarket. So the cooking time will be longer if you use a thick-cut spaghetti. You can order the No. 12 Spaghetti here: De Cecco Spaghetti No. 12.

It is recommended you use a 12-inch nonstick skillet. I do not have a 12-inch nonstick skillet. The best I can do is an enameled cast iron skillet. The problem I had was that when the strands of spaghetti burned, they stuck. So I ended up with a lot fewer charred pieces of spaghetti than I should have. BUT, I still ended up with crispy, charred bits so it wasn’t a total bust. And the results were amazingly delicious.

Two nonstick fish spatulas work best for turning over the pasta. (You need nonstick-safe spatulas for your nonstick pan.) Get the best nonstick fish spatulas here: Matfer Bourgeat Exoglass Pelton Slotted Spatula.

One more thing: this will make a mess.

Let’s Get Started

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In a medium saucepan, whisk together the 6 cups of water, sugar and tomato paste over medium-high heat. When it comes up to a simmer, reduce the heat to low to keep it hot.

Moving on, on the burner next to the hot tomato broth, over medium heat, heat the 1/3 cup of olive oil in your 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and sauté the garlic until it is golden. About 2 minutes.

Now add the 1 cup of passata to the hot oil and garlic. Add the kosher salt. Cook the sauce while stirring frequently until the sauce has thickened and the oil around the edges is bubbling.

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Cooking the Spaghetti

Add the uncooked pasta in an even layer to the bubbling passata. Increase the heat to medium-high and add 1 cup of the hot tomato broth from the saucepan.

Frequently push between the strands of spaghetti with a spatula to prevent clumping and cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed by the pasta. About 5 minutes. Now add another cup of the tomato broth and repeat; pushing between the strands until the liquid is mostly absorbed.

Now, use two fish spatulas flip half of the spaghetti over. Do the same with the other half of spaghetti.

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Add another cup of broth and continue to cook the pasta while pushing between the strands, like before.

Once this third cup of broth is absorbed, about 5-7 minutes, add another cup of tomato broth. Once the fourth cup of broth is absorbed and the sauce in the pan is sizzling, repeat the flipping of pasta. Then add a fifth cup of tomato broth to the spaghetti. Let this cook until absorbed, just as before, about 5-7 minutes. Now test a strand or two of pasta. It should be tender yet, firm. If it’s not yet al dente, add the remaining cup of tomato broth, 1/2 a cup at a time and test the doneness between adding the 1/2 cups.

When the pasta is cooked through, spread it out in the pan and turn the heat up to high. Cook the pasta, undisturbed until the underside is very browned and beginning to char. About 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. and transfer the Spaghetti all’Assassina to a serving dish. Drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil.

Spaghetti all’Assassina

I opted to finish the Spaghetti all’Assassina with some Parmesan, flaky finishing salt and fresh basil leaves.

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I tasted this Spaghetti all’Assassina and it was the most perfect bite of punchy tomato flavor with glorious texture variety; crispy, chewy, soft and bouncy. Alex tasted it and heartily, silently nodded his head yes. So this Spaghetti All’assassina didn’t even make it to individual servings; we ate it Lady and The Tramp style, straight from the serving dish. I do hope you give this recipe a try. It’s worth every ounce of patience, effort and messy cooktop.

Looking for something a little less adventurous? Try Bucatini all’Amatriciana. Take care and be well! xo Kelly

Key Equipment

Spaghetti all'Assassina

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Dinner, Main Course Italian
By Cook's Illustrated Serves: 2-4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cooking Time: ~1 Hour Total Time: ~1 Hour, 15 Minutes

With Spaghetti all'Assassina every bite is a perfect bite of intense tomato flavor, glorious texture variety; crispy, chewy, soft and bouncy.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups Water
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil, plus more for finishing Spaghetti
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 cup Tomato Passata
  • 2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 12 oz. Spaghetti
  • Garnish with Parmesan, Flaky Finishing Salt and Fresh Basil, if desired

Instructions

1

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the 6 cups of water, sugar and tomato paste over medium-high heat. When it comes up to a simmer, reduce the heat to low to keep it hot.

2

On the burner next to the hot tomato broth, over medium heat, heat the 1/3 cup of olive oil in your 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and sauté the garlic until it is golden. About 2 minutes.

3

Now add the 1 cup of passata to the hot oil and garlic. Add the kosher salt. Cook the sauce while stirring frequently until the sauce has thickened and the oil around the edges is bubbling.

4

Add the uncooked pasta in an even layer to the bubbling passata. Increase the heat to medium-high and add 1 cup of the hot tomato broth from the saucepan.

5

Frequently push between the strands of spaghetti with a spatula to prevent clumping and cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed by the pasta. About 5minutes. Now add another cup of the tomato broth and repeat; pushing between the strands until the liquid is mostly absorbed.

6

Now, use two fish spatulas flip half of the spaghetti over. Do the same with the other half of spaghetti.

7

Add another cup of broth and continue to cook the pasta while pushing between the strands, like before.

8

Once this third cup of broth is absorbed, about 5-7 minutes, add another cup of tomato broth. Once the fourth cup of broth is absorbed and the sauce in the pan is sizzling, repeat the flipping of pasta. Then add a fifth cup of tomato broth to the spaghetti. Let this cook until absorbed, just as before, about 5-7 minutes. Now test a strand or two of pasta. It should be tender yet, firm. If it's not yet al dente, add the remaining cup of tomato broth, 1/2 a cup at a time and test the doneness between adding the 1/2 cups.

9

When the pasta is cooked through, spread it out in the pan and turn the heat up to high. Cook the pasta, undisturbed until the underside is very browned and beginning to char. About 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. and transfer the Spaghetti all'Assassina to a serving dish. Drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil.

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Mari
    September 22, 2022 at 10:13 am

    This will be a fun recipe to try. I have never tried one where the pasta cooks in the sauce, but I’m game. You have really helped me stretch my culinary wings, and I’ve always landed safely with a great meal. It’s funny how we get in a rut food wise, and keep doing the same thing. As an adult, I only bought chicken breasts, and ignored everything else. That has more to do with the way my mom prepared chicken than anything else. I particularly grew up disliking legs, wings and everything else, and I wasn’t that fond of the breasts either. As a young married woman, most of the chicken recipes I saw, were for roasting, or something that called for breasts only. Suddenly, in the last couple of years, it was chicken thighs my old nemesis! Until I saw them here, I ignored them. What a difference the right preparation makes! I’m actually branching out. Last night I made chicken and dumplings in the slow cooker, and it was really amazing. I liked the meat. Your recipes were the impetus. I have an order in at one of the warehouse clubs for a large package of chicken thighs. Ten pounds will last for awhile in the freezer. My problem is that after organizing it twice, it’s still hard to find things. I tend to find holes in the stacks and push smaller packages through. Then I congratulate myself on getting it in there. Until it’s time to get something out! I generally know where something is, but it doesn’t make it easy to get it out. Usually there’s an avalanche near my feet. I have learned to keep my feet well to the. Happy Thrilling Thursday to the Djalalis, Terry, and the three pups of the Apupcalypse. ☀️🐕🍁

    • Reply
      Kelly Djalali
      September 22, 2022 at 1:56 pm

      Hello Mari, I am so happy you have branched out in the kitchen – especially with the chicken thighs! It’s been a marketing scheme in America to sell breasts by telling us for decades that the breasts are lower in calories. This is not true, and so many Americans have missed out on the rich flavor and tender juiciness of chicken thighs. I hope you have a wonderful Thursday, see you tomorrow! xo Kelly

  • Reply
    Terry
    September 22, 2022 at 10:20 am

    Before I attempt this I have to order a few things . The sauce, another spatula. I do have the 12 inch non stick pan so once this comes in I will be making it and of course I will keep you posted ❤️🤗 mom

    • Reply
      Kelly Djalali
      September 22, 2022 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Mom, I ordered a second nonstick-safe spatula too. It’s really handy to have two for flipping things. I am sure you will find the tomato sauce to be a good buy. With so many uses for tomato purée it’s nice to have some of this variety on hand. Let me know how this one goes for you once you have all the gear and ingredients! xo Kelly

  • Reply
    Suzanne
    September 22, 2022 at 2:39 pm

    OMG, I’ve not made this ever before, but I will be trying it–it sounds delightful! Thx for the excellent explanations and photos as always, Kelly. Yum

    • Reply
      Kelly Djalali
      September 23, 2022 at 8:10 am

      Hi Suzanne, You’ll love the outcome of this recipe, Suzanne. Do let me know how it goes for you! xo Kelly

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