When people ask me which dish on my menus I crave most—the last-supper, desert-island pasta—it’s a toss-up between two dishes: this one and its cousin, the rigatoni with 30-clove sauce at Misi. For someone who has spent what feels like a lifetime trying to perfect filled pasta, it comes as a surprise, perhaps, that my craving comes back to dishes so simple that I originally wondered whether or not I’d get away with putting them on a restaurant menu. But when I opened Lilia, I couldn’t resist. If I can’t put a dish I love this much on a menu, then what’s the point of having a restaurant?
This dish will always represent a turning point for me as a chef. It’s the moment when I decided to tune it all out and cook the food I wanted to eat. It’s a dish I return to not only for comfort but also as a reminder of that moment, and the promise I made to myself, whenever I feel adrift.
You’ll need the Extruded Pasta Dough recipe to make the rigatoni from scratch.
- Extruded pasta (see recipe link in headnote)
For the Rigatoni Diavola
- 624 grams (1 lb 6 oz) extruded rigatoni (use recipe in headnote, instructions follow)
- 585 grams (2 1/4 cups) Diavola Sauce (recipe follows)
- 22 grams (1/4 cup) finely grated pecorino romano
- 3 sprigs marjoram, leaves removed from stems
- 14 grams (1 Tbsp) olive oil
- Black pepper, q.b. (quanto basta "as needed")
For the Diavola Sauce (Yields 1.6 kg/6 1/2 cups)
- 112 grams/1/2 cup olive oil
- 70 grams/14 cloves garlic, 10 cloves left whole and 4 cloves thinly sliced
- 113 grams/1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 15 grams/1 Tbsp crushed Calabrian chiles
- 4 grams/2 tsp dried red chile flakes
- 7 grams/1 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp) fennel seed
- 2 large (794 grams/28 oz) cans whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
- Salt q.b. (quanto basta "as needed")
Make the rigatoni
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and generously dust with semolina. Follow the recipe for extruded dough.
- When the machine has warmed and the pasta is properly extruding, use a bench scraper to cut the pasta into 2-inch pieces and place in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan.
- Let the pasta dry for 2 to 6 hours, until it has very little give and has semihardened. If not using right away, cover the sheet pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 36 hours.
Make the Diavola Sauce
- Place a large heavy sauce pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and whole garlic cloves and cook slowly until the garlic is light golden brown, caramelized, and soft enough to mash, 7 to 10minutes.
- Gently mash the garlic in the pot with a fork or the back of a spoon. Add the sliced garlic to the pot, decrease the heat to low, and cook gently until aromatic but without color, 30 seconds to a minute.
- Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the mixture starts to turn a deeper red and is well combined with the oil and garlic, 3 to5 minutes.
- Add the Calabrian chiles, chile flakes, and fennel seed, then add the tomatoes and their juice, stir to incorporate all ingredients, and cook until the flours have blended, 30 to 45 minutes. Season with salt q.b.
- Set aside off the heat until ready to use, or let cool, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month for another use.
Make the Rigatoni Diavola
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the water.
- Add the rigatoni to the water and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, place a large sauté pan over low heat. Add the sauce and 1 ladle (55g/ ¼cup) pasta cooking water and stir to combine.
- Using a spider or pasta basket, remove the pasta from the pot and transfer to the sauté pan. Turn the heat up to medium. Toss for 1 to 2 minutes to marry the pasta and the sauce. If the sauce begins to tighten, add a splash of pasta cooking water to loosen and continue tossing to marry. When properly married, the pasta should absorb the sauce, glide easily when tossed, and there should be little sauce left at the bottom of the pan.
- Divide into bowls and garnish with the pecorino, marjoram, olive oil, and with pepper q.b.