Serves 6 as a first course or 4 as a main course
Agro means “sour,” and in this refreshing and fast pasta sauce, there’s plenty of lively acidity: white wine, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and grated lemon zest. These are nicely balanced with butter and cream, and all the cooking takes barely 5 minutes—less than the time you need to cook your maccheroni alla chitarra. Be sure that all your ingredients are ready—and the pasta water is at the boil—when you start cooking the sauce. Best with maccheroni alla chitarra, this dressing is also delicious with fresh tagliatelle or dry spaghetti or linguine.
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Finely grated zest of 2 lemons (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Juice of 2 lemons, freshly squeezed (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 cup heavy cream for cooking and finishing the pasta
- 1 batch (1 pound) Homemade Maccheroni alla Chitarra or other pasta (see here)
- 1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano (or half pecorino and half Grana Padano for a milder flavor), plus more for passing
- Extra-virgin olive oil, best-quality, for serving
You will need a large pot, 8-quart capacity, for cooking the pasta; a heavy-bottomed skillet or sauté pan, 12-inch diameter or larger. To cook the maccheroni: heat a large pot of well-salted water (6 quarts or more) to the boil. Drop the butter into the big skillet, and set it over medium heat. As the butter melts, scatter in the grated lemon zest; stir it around until sizzling.
Pour in the white wine and lemon juice, add the salt, stir, and bring the liquids to a bubbling simmer. Cover the skillet, and let cook for a couple of minutes. Uncover the pan, and slowly pour in the cream, whisking it steadily into the simmering wine and lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquids reduce to a saucy consistency you like, 2 or 3 minutes more.
After whisking in the cream, start cooking the pasta. Shake excess flour off the fresh maccheroni, and drop it into the boiling water, stirring to separate the strands. Return the water to a rolling boil, and cook the pasta for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until al dente. With the lemon-and- cream sauce at a simmer, quickly lift out the maccheroni and drop it all into the skillet. Toss the pasta until well coated, loosening the sauce with a few spoonfuls of hot pasta- cooking water if needed.
Turn off the heat, sprinkle a cup or so of grated cheese over the maccheroni, and toss well. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, toss again, and heap the pasta in warm bowls. Serve immediately, with more cheese at the table.