This recipe brings back the best memories. If you've followed me for awhile you've probably heard of Pedro, the man who cooked for us when my mom became too tired to do so. This was one of my favorite dishes he made. Creamy, rich, with a hint of smoke and totally satisfying. When I got off the school bus and ran into the house, I could recognize the smell of it while on the stairs, before I even made it to the kitchen. I thought it was a northern Mexico thing; being so close to the U.S. border, we are more prone to take popular American dishes and "Mexicanize" them. Wrong! You can find versions of this recipe by home cooks all across the country. I don't think I've ever seen it on a restaurant menu, but please let me know if I am mistaken. Need to know who serves this because I'm so willing to pay for it!
white onion, chopped
large cloves garlic, minced
large carrot, peeled and chopped
stalk celery, chopped
extra-virgin olive oil
Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped (with seeds)
chipotle chilies (from a can of chipotles in adobo. I like Embasa brand)
heavy whipping cream
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
baguette, torn into pieces
extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan
chopped fresh cilantro
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package instructions until al dente. (I like it JUST cooked through, usually on the shorter time listed on the package. Bite into it; if the center is still uncooked, leave it in 2 more minutes.) Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta water.
- Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a heavy and very large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes. Add carrot and celery and cook 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Transfer mixture to a blender and add chipotles, adobo, and cream. Add 1 cup reserved pasta water. (Reserve remaining pasta water in case you want to loosen pasta dish before serving.) Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Strain sauce back into large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make croutons: Heat broiler. On a large rimmed baking sheet toss bageutte pieces with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan. Broil until deeply golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Top with cilantro.
- Add cooked pasta to sauce and, using tongs, toss to coat.
- Top spaghetti with croutons and more Parmesan before serving.