Burro e alici

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This simple recipe for spaghetti with butter and anchovy sauce combines very few ingredients to great effect, harnessing the power of the starchy pasta water to create a fishy sauce that’s a dream for anchovy lovers. We use good quality anchovies in oil to make this dish. The oil is used to crisp up the breadcrumbs, ensuring nothing is wasted.

First published in 2023






First, make the breadcrumbs. Place a frying pan over medium-low heat, and, once hot, add the oil from the tin of anchovies followed by the breadcrumbs

  • 100g of breadcrumbs

Toast the breadcrumbs, stirring, until they are well coated by the anchovy oil and become evenly golden brown. Set aside to drain on kitchen paper


Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente


In a large frying pan, melt the butter and add the anchovy fillets, stirring to break them up until they’ve melted into the butter, then reduce the heat to very low


Once the pasta has been cooking for at least 5 minutes, transfer 300ml of pasta water to the frying pan, and turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Stir the sauce vigorously to emulsify the butter with the pasta water and make a creamy sauce


When the sauce has emulsified, reduce the heat to low once more. This will stop the sauce from evaporating too much as the pasta finishes cooking


Once the pasta is almost al dente, but still needs a little more cooking, use tongs or a pasta claw to transfer it to the frying pan. Increase the heat to high


Toss the pasta vigorously, coating it in the creamy sauce, then begin adding small ladlefuls (no more than a couple of tablespoons at a time) of pasta water. This will ensure everything is well emulsified and creamy - there should be a visible pool of sauce around the spaghetti


Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the lemon juice, then toss again


Serve topped with the crunchy breadcrumbs and parsley

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