One of the underlying themes of the movie Goodfellas (and Wiseguy, the book it was based on) was Henry Hill constantly succumbing to his temptations. Joining the mob. Racketeering. Gambling. Stealing. Drugs. And women. Oh, the women. Among them was Debi Mazar who played Sandy, the steely-eyed brunette that was one of Henry’s girlfriends. She was arrested during the final scenes of the movie as an accomplice in his drug ring.
Debi Mazar was one of the faces you didn’t forget in a movie full of memorable faces and “that guy” actors and actresses. Admittedly, I didn’t really follow her post-Goodfellas career, though I was surprised to hear a few years ago that she hosted a cooking show, Extra Virgin, with her husband, Gabriele Corcos. Usually when actresses take to cooking, you get atrocities like Gwyneth Paltrow, but here was Mazar and Corcos presenting recipes that were both attainable and looked good.
The duo recently published a cookbook, bearing the same name as the television show on the Cooking Channel, and the fine people at Serious Eats have been test driving the couple’s work. After skimming some of the pages on Amazon and seeing Serious Eats’ features, I kinda want this book.
WHAT WORKED: Bucatini. Pici, or thick spaghetti, was not an option during my weekend shopping trip. Spaghetti, linguine and fettuccini seemed a little, I don’t know, boring. I saw the bucatini and decided it was the way to go. Also, the serranos at Wegmans were pretty beat up. Instead, I used F. Oliver’s smoky chipotle extra virgin olive oil. It worked just as well.
WHAT DIDN’T: Whole clove garlic. I forgot to buy a bulb this weekend, so the jar of crushed had to do.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: She really liked it, though she and I spent much of the dinner corralling an uncooperative 4-year-old.
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Yes. It’s an easy alternative to an arrabiata sauce that I can basically toss together with ingredients in my house.
Adapted from Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from Our Tuscan Kitchen by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar, Clarkson Potter, 2014
- Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp. chili-infused extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in puree, crushed by hand
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb. pici (thick spaghetti) or other thick, long pasta
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Bring a stockpot of water to boil over high heat and salt liberally with kosher salt.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat until hot, then add the garlic. When garlic becomes fragrant, add the tomatoes and cook 20 minutes, or until the liquid has mostly cooked off and you are left with a thick tomato sauce. Adjust flavors with salt and pepper.
In the meantime, cook your pasta to about 1 minute short of al dente (De Cecco bucatini takes 9 minutes for al dente). Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the pasta.
Transfer the cooked pasta to the tomato sauce and toss in the pan to prevent sticking. Use the pasta water to thin out the tomato sauce to your preference (I used about a half cup).
Add to a serving bowl, top with torn basil leaves and serve with grated romano cheese.