- In a medium-sized pot, prepare a broth made with 1 ½ cups of water, 1 ½ cups of tomato passata/purée, tomato paste, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. (The mixture should still retain a bright red color, but have the consistency of a broth).
- In a cast iron pan (see note), add the olive oil, the garlic cloves (two whole, one chopped), and the red pepper flakes. Cook the garlic over a high flame until golden, then pour in the remaining ½ cup of tomato passata/purée along with the sugar.
- Spread the passata over the whole pan with a wooden spoon and let it reduce and thicken slightly. Place the uncooked spaghetti in the pan, arranging the pasta so that each strand is in contact with the sauce.
- Wait for the underside of the spaghetti to start caramelizing, and then turn the strands over. This must be done carefully, a little at a time using a spatula or tongs.
- Once the spaghetti has begun to caramelize on all sides, pour in 2 medium-sized ladles of the hot tomato broth. Let it reduce without turning the spaghetti and "listen" for the boiling point. When you hear it "sizzle" again (the noise changes sharply), keep your distance and wait for the "burning" process to continue (this will take 30 seconds to 1 one minute). Don’t shy away from this moment for this is when the caramelized flavors really start to develop.
- Repeat the above step, using a wooden spoon to stir any pasta strands that have stuck to the bottom of the pan upon adding the tomato broth. Continue until the spaghetti is coated in the sauce and it is cooked al dente (approximately 8-9 minutes). If you run out of tomato broth, you can add a little water.
- The resulting dish should be a hard spaghetti with a unique consistency and intense flavor profile. Serve your spaghetti all’assassina immediately as is, or topped with stracciatella or burrata – our favorite preparation!
Note: Spaghetti all'assassina is such a source of local pride that a dedicated organization called l’accademia dell’assassina was established to protect and promote the authentic version of the dish. While they are steadfast in the belief that a cast-iron pan must be used, we can attest that a nonstick frying pan will do just fine.