I don't really know anything about the cooking of the Abruzzi other than it is the source of a lot of bad Italian-American food. It's one of those mountainous, isolated, and traditionally desperately poor regions that actually, I am sure, has stunningly good food in situ. Because of the Italian-American connection I always associate pasta with sausage and greens as an Abruzzi dish. Imagining all those arid hills and all that sheep's cheese, I like to make this with lamb sausage instead of pork.
Serves 4 to 6
• 1 pound bucatini pasta or maccheroncini
• 2 pounds ground lamb
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons coarse-ground chili pepper
• 1 tablespoon dried Sicilian or Greek oregano
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 bunch broccoli raab, trimmed, blanched, and roughly chopped
• ¼ cup grated aged sheep's milk cheese such as Pecorino Toscano
• 3 tablespoons fried bread crumbs (optional)
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Season the ground lamb with the garlic, chili pepper, dried oregano, and a pinch of salt. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the seasoned ground lamb to the pan and cook it out about five minutes, breaking it up into little pieces with a spoon so it doesn't clump.
Add the broccoli raab and a couple of teaspoons of water and turn up the heat and let the greens and meat cook out together about five minutes. When the water is completely evaporated turn off the heat.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet or personal preference in the boiling water. Drain, and toss immediately with the sauce and toss again with the grated cheese. If using the bread crumbs, add them now. Adjust the seasonings and serve immediately.
To read Sara's piece about equipping her new Italian restaurant by shopping at restaurant auctions, click here.