Spaghetti all’assassina, here is the origin of the Bari recipe

don’t be afraid, the origin of spaghetti all’assassina he’s not dealing with any homicide cases. However, a small link with the world of television crime has been created lately. The Bari recipesymbol of the cuisine of the Apulian capital, has in fact made a comeback as it was mentioned in a recent one crime tv series produced by Rai (The investigations of Lolita Lobosco), a fiction inspired in turn by the homonymous series of novels by the writer Gabriella Genisi. Curiosity around these pan-fried spaghetti with tomato and chilli pepper (and not boiled in a pot) has thus increased, from their history to the tricks to prepare them at home.

The origin of spaghetti all’assassina

Investigating the origin of spaghetti all’assassina is easy to end up a false track. Some version of their story describes them as a popular dish, born in the kitchens of Bari families in times when nothing was wasted. According to these hypotheses, the pasta left over for lunch was often recovered for dinner by throwing it in a pan, heating it over a high flame and making it burn to give it a more delicious flavour.

It was said, however, that the story is another. As the Bari historian Felice Giovine and the website explain, the origin of spaghetti all’assassina it dates back to the 60s and it is due to the activity of a restaurant in the center of the Apulian capital: “At the favorite sip”, a place in the Foggia area Enzo Francavilla. It is from these tables that they became popular. However, it was not the cook who gave the curious name to the dish.

After a couple of days in which I had opened the restaurant, a couple of gentlemen from Alitalia showed up and asked me for a tasty first course. I put myself in the kitchen, build the dish and, serving it, I advise them to drink only at the end of the dish. When I go back to find out their opinion, the gentleman addresses me in a good-natured and clearly satisfied way: ‘you’re a killer … but with great taste‘. So I decided to call that dish spaghetti all’assassina”, Francavilla told the historian Giovine in a 2018 interview. The adventure of that place did not last long. After a few years, Francavilla moved the restaurant to a new location (where it still exists) to then sell it and move to Modugno.

How to prepare spaghetti all’assassina

The reason Francavilla was called a “murderer” was the pepper present in the dish. In fact, eating a dish of assassina without drinking a drop of water is something for tenacious palates. But that’s not the only curiosity of the dish. The main one is the cooking method. Spaghetti, in fact, are not boiled with the classic method, but they come prepare in the pan with the risotto technique. Let’s see the recipe then.

In addition to spaghetti (not spaghettoni), they are necessary 400 g of tomato puree, tomato concentrate, 100 cl of oil, three cloves of garlic, chilli pepper, salt and sugar (the doses are for 4 people). In a saucepan, prepare and bring to the boil a broth made with water, 400 g of tomato puree and plenty of tomato paste and salt. In another cooking pan (purists suggest an iron model and already treated for use, such as the lyonnaise, but you can use a common non-stick) put about 100 cl of oil, three cloves of garlic (without core) and chilli pepper (to taste, crushed and/or whole). After that, the spaghetti should be thrown away directly in the pan raw and distributed so that almost everyone is in contact with the dressing.

Spaghetti risotto

From here on, you have to arm yourself with patience and attention. In fact, spaghetti they should be left standing until they begin to darken. They must not carbonize, but caramelize slightly. Only when they begin to colour, can you turn the spaghetti already attached to the bottom of the pan, bringing the already browned ones more to the surface.

Once this is done, two ladles of tomato broth are poured into the pan and left to consume as happens for the preparation of risotto but, in this case, without mixing the spaghetti. When the spaghetti sizzles again, you have to wait about ten seconds for the “burning” process to continue before turning them over. Once this is done, you can add another ladle of broth. These steps will be repeated for 8-9 minutesuntil the spaghetti will acquire a red-brown colour. Now your assassin is ready!

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