Maccheroni alla chitarra

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. pancetta or unsmoked bacon
  • 3 1/2 oz. butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled, diced fresh tomatoes, or use small (16oz) tinned tomatoes
  • 3 1/2 oz. pecorino and or Parmesan cheese, grated.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb pasta

How to make the Maccheroni alla chitarra:

DICE the bacon and sauté in the butter until golden.

ADD the cut tomato pieces and pepper and cook for a few more minutes, until soft.

ADD the salt carefully, as the bacon is already salty.

COOK the pasta.

SERVE with grated cheese.

Serves 4

A famous fresh-egg-pasta dish from the Abruzzi region of Italy. The ‘guitar’ is a wooden frame strung with innumerable wires close together – for cutting the pasta in thin strips by laying the pasta on the ‘strings’ and passing a roller over it.

You can make fresh pasta and roll it slightly thicker than for fettucine (about a tenth of an inch) then cut it into narrow strips (again, about a tenth of an inch) for a rough approximation of the original – or any fresh pasta from the refrigerator section of your local store will do. Remember that fresh pasta cooks very quickly: 3 – 4 minutes on average.

Make this delicious dish only when you have fresh tomatoes.

Maccheroni alla chitarra

Undoubtedly, the best known dish in the region of Abruzzo is maccheroni alla chitarra, macaroni pasta made on a guitar-like instrument. Traditionally these macaroni are  supposed to be “fine like hair and light like feathers.” It is obtained by cutting sheets of pasta dough with a traditional cutter called a “guitar”, made of 2 sets of differently spaced wires stretched on a wooden frame, with a tilted board between them to catch the cut pasta. With the help of a rolling pin the sheets of pasta are pressed between the wires.

However, as we have made our way into modern times the same affect can be achieved by preparing a sheet of dough about 1/4 inch thick and cutting it into strips of the same width so that you have square shaped rather than cylindrical spaghetti (like long match sticks) This can be done by hand or with a manual pasta machine which generally has a set of rollers for kneading and thinning the dough and a set of cutters for cutting the sheet dough into noodles. The Imperia brand is a highly recommended machine which comes with cutting heads that will cut perfect fettuccine and the narrower tagliarini (very close to the chitarra cut). Also, it is possible to buy something similar to “pasta alla chitarra” ready made.

Regional recipe from Abruzzo