So since the earthquake in the Amatricia region of Italy last week, I’ve had Italy on the brain. And while it is somewhat absurd in the middle of a natural disaster, one of the first things that I thought of was Bucatini all’Amatriciana… somehow planted in my brain was this is the signature dish from that area of Italy. It’s very popular, very easy to make and taste amazing.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces pancetta*, or bacon, cut into strips about 1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes, with juice
1 pound bucatini, perciatelli, or linguine*
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, (about 1 1/2 ounces)
Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large stockpot.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add pancetta or bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer pancetta or bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel–lined plate; set aside. If necessary, drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet. Add onion to skillet; sauté over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and cook to release flavor, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and salt to taste; simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
While sauce is simmering, add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pasta to boiling water. Cook until pasta is al dente; drain and return pasta to empty pot. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Add pancetta to tomato sauce and adjust seasoning with salt. Add sauce to pot with pasta and toss over low heat to combine, adding a little bit of the reserved pasta cooking water, about 30 seconds. Add cheese and toss again; serve.
*Traditionally Sugo all’Amatriciana uses Guanciale, which is an Italian cured meat prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. Seeing I am not likey to find Guanciale easily here in Boston, I went with pancetta. If you can’t find that either, go with bacon. Also, this is typically served with bucatini, a long pasta like spaghetti but hollow in the middle like really really long macaroni only much thinner. If you can’t find it, spaghetti or linguini work just as well.