Rigatoni All’Arrabbiata (al-ah-rah-BIA-tah) roughly translates to pissed off rigatoni from Italian. As you can imagine, if a dish was described as being pissed off, it’d probably be a little spicy. When I used to work in a kitchen, I loved it when an arrabbiata order got called. Why, you ask? Well, on the odd occasion, there would be a fool who would request that the chef make it extra hot. Hotter than the fires of burning hell. I would smirk, and kindly tell the waitress, “Sure! Not a problem!”.

I would conjure up a concoction that would be sure to have him begging for a glass of water, a beer, milk, something to soothe his ailing face (No, not just his tongue. His whole face). Now, why would I do such a thing? Other than to sell more beer for the restaurant, it would make the poor bastard really happy. “Finally, somebody makes a spicy pasta around here”, he would tell me. Then go off on his way. Did he come back? Of course. Some Italians are stupid like that (I am Italian, I am allowed to say that!).

The key to making a killer Arrabbiata sauce is not just some awesome hot peppers, but it’s the ingredients around the peppers that truly make the dish shine. That’s true for any pasta sauce, really. The success of the dish will rely heavily on the quality of these three ingredients: the tomatoes, the wine and the cheese. Choose tinned Italian tomatoes, preferably San Marzano. They are remarkably sweet and not very acidic. Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink. Finally, choose Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – this is NOT the same as the pre-grated, shaker can of “Parmesan”. No. Put that down. Buy a piece of Parmigiano Reggiano and grate it yourself. It makes a WORLD of difference. Just like our Bacon Recipes make a world of a differnce to the world or I’d like to think so.

Quality in, quality out. You really can’t go wrong. Hmmm That sounds like all Maple Leaf products… quality in, quality out… you can taste the difference. (I really should be a marketer, similar to the musketeers but we serve ads).

Ingredients

12 strips Maple Leaf Bacon

1 lb Rigatoni

2 Habanero peppers

4 cloves Garlic

1 Vidalia onion

1 ¼ cup White wine

1 tbsp Dried oregano

1 (28 oz) can Italian peeled tomatoes (San Marzano, if possible)

1/2 cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Salt and Pepper

Directions

1. Get a large pot of salted water on the stove. Don’t want to have to be waiting for this later.

2. Cut up your bacon into ½” pieces and toss it into a large pan. It’s going to be the same pan that we will make our sauce in so the bigger the better. Fry until crispy!

3. Grab your habaneros, garlic and Vidalia onion and chop them all up very fine. Two habaneros, if you use the whole thing, will give the sauce quite a bit of kick. If you want less spice, either use one habanero or don’t use any of the seeds. The seeds hold the most spice.

I also chose to use a Vidalia onion because it’s so beautifully sweet.

4. Remove your bacon from the pan, but leave the rendered fat there.

5. Toss your garlic, onion and habanero into the same pan and fry that up nicely. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you fry to get all that delicious flavour up into the aromatics.

6. Once all of the onions have gone soft and translucent, dump in your wine. You used good wine, right? Good. The wine will also help to remove all of the delicious bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the onions, garlic and peppers cook in the vino for about 3-5 minutes, or until it has reduced to just about half its volume.

7. This part is the most fun. Add in your tomatoes, one by one, squishing each tomato in your hand before you add it to the pan. Your hands are clean, right? Also add the tomato juice in the bottom of the can as well as your oregano, a good pinch of salt and black pepper. After all of your tomatoes have been added to the pan, put your pasta down in the water. Rigatoni takes roughly 13 minutes until it’s al dente, and this is just enough time to let our sauce come together

8. Grab your piece of Parmigiano Reggiano and grate it up. I know this stuff can be expensive but it’s worlds far and beyond that pre-grated shaker stuff. Because this dish is so simple, it relies on the quality of stuff that you’re putting in. I can’t stress that enough!

9. Drain your pasta, but before you do, reserve about a cup of the cooking water.

10. Dump the drained pasta on top of the sauce. If your pan is too small, you can dump the sauce on top of the pasta in the big pot you cooked the pasta in.

11. Add a generous helping of your Parmigiano…

12. … and your bacon of course.

13. Stir everything together. Add the cooking water little by little, adding just enough so that the sauce completely coats the pasta. You won’t have to use the whole cup of water you reserved. We use the cooking water because 1) its got some flavour and 2) it has some starch that cooks out of the pasta and that starch is what helps the sauce stick to the noodle. This is also why you should NEVER rinse your pasta after cooking it.

14. Plate with another shredding of Parmigiano and chow down. Don’t forget your glass of water!