Penne pasta with meat sauce

Penne pasta with meat sauce

Penne strascicate

By
From
Florentine
Serves
4
Photographer
Lauren Bamford

This is a favourite Florentine preparation for an otherwise simple pasta al sugo (pasta with meat sauce), found just as often at home as in a trattoria. Penne pasta is a short tube pasta, ideal for this technique as it holds its shape well and the sauce fills the inside of the tube, guaranteeing a tasty bite with each forkful. Initially the pasta is only parboiled and the rest of the cooking is finished in the pan together with the meat sauce, stirring and tossing frequently to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan. This is actually where the dish gets its name from: strascicare means ‘to drag’ and describes the dragging action of the wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan as you stir the penne through the sauce.

The result is an almost creamy sauce, thanks to the starch released from the pasta as it cooks, and an exceptionally tasty pasta, which absorbs the flavour of the meat sauce as they mingle together in the pan. It is similar to what happens to rice in a risotto and perhaps has inspired the modern pasta risottata (pasta cooked like a risotto), but this age-old peasant dish has long been a Florentine classic.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
320g penne
500g Meat sauce
40g grated parmesan

Method

  1. Prepare the sugo toscano (note: you will only need half of the recipe given).
  2. Fill a large pot with water and bring to the boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and semi-cook the pasta over a medium–high heat for about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 250 ml of the cooking water.
  3. Add the pasta to the sauce in a large frying pan. Cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat, tossing or stirring frequently, using some of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce as the pasta finishes cooking to al dente. Towards the end, add the parmesan to finish. Serve immediately.
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