For a lot of people, food can be divisive. Some people like cilantro, some folks loathe it. Olives, too, fall into the love-hate category (and then there’s Eric who loves them, but doesn’t like them cooked). I have a running list of things that friends and family members have mentioned in passing: mushrooms, green pepper, celery, truffles, white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, potent cheeses (I’m talking about you, Dad), onions (yes, even cooked), lima beans, ginger, mayonnaise, sour cream, eggs. I’m sure I could fill at least a page if I was given some time to think about it.
I bring this up because I am not in the least bit like this. There is nothing that I flat out won’t eat. I do have dishes, like bone marrow or beef tongue, that I’ve tried and am not the biggest fan of. However, if someone told me that there’s a restaurant that has the best bone marrow or tongue in the world, well, I’d give it a try. I don’t dislike the flavor. I’m just not impressed.
Over the years, I’ve heard from a number of people that one thing they avoid are anchovies. I know a lot of people who don’t like fish (I’m fairly certain that these individuals just haven’t had it cooked properly), but these things freak people out more than most seafood and I really don’t understand why. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get the most staunch opponent of anchovies to make a dish that includes them, but I’m pretty certain that if you served this to them without telling them what the dish contained, they might actually enjoy it (yes, I did just tell you to sneak it in their food, because I’m evil).
Fettucini with Spicy Anchovy Sauce and Dill Bread Crumbs
(slightly adapted from the April 2008 issue of Gourmet Magazine via Epicurious)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a baguette)
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 pound red onions, thinly sliced (3 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 (2-ounce) cans flat anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
1 pound fettucini
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook bread crumbs, stirring constantly, until deep golden and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.
Transfer bread crumbs to a bowl and toss with dill and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper.
Wipe out skillet, then cook onions with 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 1/2 cup oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until very soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Add anchovies and garlic and cook, mashing anchovies into onions, until dissolved.
Meanwhile, cook fettucini in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 5 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
Stir red-pepper flakes and reserved water into anchovy sauce, then add pasta and toss to combine. Add about half of bread crumbs and toss to coat. Serve sprinkled with remaining bread crumbs.