Third Time’s a Charm: Pasta All’Ubriaco

Do you ever get SO obsessed with a dish that you attempt to replicate it at home? That’s what happened with me when I had one bite of pasta all’urbiaco at a local San Diego restaurant. The dish is simply pasta cooked in red wine. It’s an intense dish that’s slightly sour featuring a slight magenta hue from the wine it cooks in. Easy enough, right? Wrong.

It took me three tries to finally get it right. I did intensive research and even followed a few recipes to a T, yet the result was somewhere from 60-80% of where I wanted to be. The third time was a charm and I owe it all to the previous blunders and eventually following my intuition.

Red wine salt Cheap wine

My secret weapons for this was cheap wine (after all you’ll be cooking your pasta in it so the cheaper the better) and red wine salt to intensify the wine flavor (an old gift from a friend I found when scrounging around for red chili flakes in my pantry). While the red salt is not necessary, it helped intensify the overall flavor of the dish. If you’re insistent on having it, you can always buy or make your own.

One warning about this dish. If you have a white kitchen, it can be messy. My advice is to the clean up any spills immediately and when draining the pasta, run water to avoid staining your sink.

Ready take on this rustic Italian dish? Here you go.

Pasta All’Urbiaco

Serves 6-8

1 bottle Merlot wine, reserving 1/2 cup
1 package gemelli pasta, or other short noodle pasta like fusilli
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Pinch of red chili flakes, adjust according to spice level if necessary
Red wine salt or regular table salt to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Parsley for garnish

In a large pot, heat up bottle of wine, reserving 1/2 cup for later use, plus four cups of water. When liquid is boiling, season with 1 tablespoon of salt and add pasta. Cook according to directions or until al dente.

Before draining pasta, reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and set aside.

Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in large sauce pan. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add red chili flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Add reserved cooking liquid and rest of red wine. Whisk together and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste liquid and add more salt of necessary (should be a bit salty than necessary).

Add drained pasta and toss until evenly coated.

Serve hot with cheese and parsley on top.

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