Bucatini in Artichoke, Anchovy & Saffron Sauce

on the plate with a final dusting of Tuscan saffron threads
Bucatini are thick with a hole piped down the center
Bucatini are thick with a hole piped down the center
Ingredients for 4 people

350 grams (about 3/4 pound) bucatini pasta
2 artichokes
1/2 a white or yellow onion
3 small oil-packed anchovies
100 grams (about 1/3 cup) course bread crumbs
1 small package of saffron (about 2 pinches of threads) plus an extra pinch for garnishing
2-3 sprigs of parsley
olive oil, salt, pepper

saffron, artichoke, anchovy, white onion
saffron, artichoke, anchovy, white onion

Set your pasta water to boil.

Prepare the artichokes: Cut off 1 to 1 ½ inches of the thorny top, trim off the stem, and remove the tough outer leaves. Start to slice the meat away from the bottom (the ‘heart’), breaking off more of the tough leaves as you proceed. When you can see the choke (the fuzzy, prickly core), cut it out using a small paring knife and teaspoon. Keep cutting and peeling away leaves until you are left with a pile of artichoke pieces that you can now chop or slice a bit more uniformly. Prepare the second artichoke in the same way. If you wish, save the artichoke scraps to use later in making an artichoke broth.

Dice the onion medium fine. Put the saffron in a bowl and cover it with one ladle-full of hot pasta water. Gently stir. The saffron will color the water.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the anchovies. Stir until they begin to dissolve. Add the onion and sauté for about a minute in the oil and anchovy. Add the chopped artichoke and cook with the other ingredients. After two minutes add the saffron water mixture. Cook the mixture another three minutes. Now salt and pepper taste. Turn off the heat and add the bread crumbs. Stir well. You will have a paste-like sauce.

When the pasta is al dente turn off the heat. Do not drain the bucatini with a colander. Use a forked spaghetti ladle to transfer the pasta to the sauce pan. After all the pasta is in the pan with the sauce (a few stragglers will remain at the bottom of the pasta pot), add one full ladle of hot pasta water and stir all together very well. When the bucatini are covered in a smooth but not too thin sauce, then go ahead and drain the pasta remaining at the bottom of the pot with a colander. (You just don’t want to do this prematurely, as the hot pasta water is fundamental to this last step). Serve and garnish with parsley and a dusting of saffron.