Penne al Fumo

January 13, 2016


Sorry for not writing earlier. Life hasn’t been particularly good to me, in the last year. The events that started in my personal life last spring have come to an inevitable end now.


Finally things are going the way they should, but I am not completely happy.


It is not that I don’t want things to move on, I do. Actually it is about time, it is just that when things do move on, you have to face life, your life.

All of it.

The good and the bad.


And memories come in waves and finally you have to realize that your project has gone bad, and the one thing that you thought gave you strenght and will to go against the world, was actually your weakness, it was weighting you down, and now is not going to be there anymore.

You finally realize that a chapter has come to an end.


I am looking forward to open new pages of this book of mine called life, but I can’t help being sad today, because the longest chapter in my life so far has turned to a definitive end.


Better to look in the fridge and have a small plate of perfect Cortonese deliciousness. Some kind of comfort food, I have earned it.



  • 300gr/10oz oven roasted pancetta (here is called Pancetta stufata, I believe that regular smoked bacon will work too)

  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

  • 2 tablespoons of concentrated tomato paste

  • 300ml of fresh whipping cream

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1 or 2 dried chili

  • vodka or Vin Santo

  • Salt

  • Extra virgin olive oil

Here we go:



In a large skillet put a good quantity of extra virgin olive oil, the crushed chillies, two of the rosemary sprigs and the two cloves of garlic, peeled but not chopped – you’ll have to throw them away at some point. Let the oil slowly heat up until the garlic is golden and the rosemary is browned, that means that it has released all its flavour, and you can now get rid of it. Yes, garlic and rosemary… now gone..



Add the roasted pancetta or the smoked bacon, minced finely, crumble it well and let it go slowly until all the fat has rendered and the pieces of meat start to stick to the pan, add a few leaves of rosemary to the pan, take a good shot of vodka or vin santo (do not drink it!) and deglaze the pan, scrubbing the bottom so to collect all the good flavour.



Once the alcohol is evaporated and the liquid reduced, add the concentrate tomato paste, adding also a couple of tablespoons of water, stir well until the concentrated paste is well dissolved, add the cream, mix well and let it reduce very slowly until it becomes creamy and if you pass a wooden spoon on the pan it leaves a empty trace. You can add a couple of handfuls of grana or parmigiano grated.


Boil the water for the pasta in the mean time and drain it when stil very al dente, I would say a couple of minute before it is written on the package.

Toss the pasta directly on the sauce and stir and toss well, on a slow flame of a minute, serve adding a few leaves of rosemary and plate.




A quick note on the pasta to use: I know that you think that handmade pasta wins over everything, but it is not true. The pasta that you buy, packaged on a shelf in your market at home, most times than not is of a great quality.


In Italy nearly every kind of sauce calls for its own type of pasta.


Il Fumo as we call shorthly the sauce I explained you about, works well with good quality Penne, Thicker spaghetti and eventually Pici – I just don’t like the pici. I have used Ruffo, but Garofalo, Voiello, De Cecco and Barilla will work too. Ultimately any pasta that is done with durum wheat flour will be fine.

Il Fumo, is an elaboration of a Vodka pasta that was invented by our very own Adriana, head Chef of Tonino restaurant in Cortona, in the 70es. It substitutes the simple smoked pancetta, with the deeper and more subtle flavour of the roasted pancetta, adding in the mean time the tuscan flavour of fresh rosemary and the sweetness of the Vin Santo.


My day has gotten better already. Hope the same of yours.

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