Bucatini all’Amatriciana

….Or just Amatriciana if you’re so inclined. This is a simple pasta dish of tomatoes, olive oil, cheese, and pancetta. When Raul first asked me to make this dish so we could open a special bottle of Brunello, I crinkled my nose. The recipe and ingredients are quite simple, and since I like complex foods, it seemed a bit rudimentary. But when you say “I’ll cook whatever you want tonight”, and the response is something simple, you can’t really complain. Besides, sometimes all you need is just a few ingredients for a true flavor explosion, which is what I was hoping this dish would achieve.

The original motherland Italian recipe calls for guanciale, which, for lack of sugar coating, is JOWL OF PIG. You read that right. I didn’t jump for joy upon learning this bit of information but was still going to cook it because, well… just because that’s what I do.

This special Italian bacon is usually only found at specialty stores, and ours (Central Market, a.k.a. heaven) was out so we had to go for Plan B – pancetta. Like fat to the face that stuff. Oy.

And pardon the photo quality. The banana left my camera at the Halloween party so we had to make due with the phone. Serves 4.

  • 1 pound thick stranded spaghetti
  • 1/4 pound pancetta or guanciale, diced
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes (4-5 plum tomatos), blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Onion, minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Handful of freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Cook the pasta, and heat up a bit of oil in a pan for the pancetta.

Toss the pancetta in the heated pan and cook until it browns on all sides. Remove cooked bits with a spoon onto a paper towel and keep warm.

Add the onion to the pancetta grease in the pan, together with the pepper flakes, and when it begins to color add the tomato pieces, which should be well drained.

Cook for 5 minutes, then return the diced pancetta to the pan and heat it through. Drain the pasta while it’s still a little al dente, and fold into the skillet with the sauce. After the pasta is thoroughly coated with the sauce, mix in a bit of romano, plate, and top with remaining romano cheese.
I served this with asparagus (my go-to vegetable always) that was sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then I threw some white sesame seeds on them for a festive look. It was quite the party on that plate.
This dish was incredible! The simplicity and limited number of ingredients caused some skepticism, but the final product was just lovely. And it paired perfectly with our prized Brunello.
For dessert, Raul opened a bottle of Sauternes and we had mini treats from Central Market. I got the ghost cupcake in honor of my favorite holiday :)
Ahhhh. Sundays are for indulging right?
An important note:
*either pancetta or guanciale work brilliantly with this dish. don’t use bacon, as its smoked and sugary components don’t play nicely with the other kids
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4 Responses to Bucatini all’Amatriciana

  1. Shanyé says:

    What’s stranded spaghetti. Did I find a typo? :)

    This sounds amazing. I’m going to have to make that soon.

  2. erinparker75 says:

    ha! maybe. that’s what the recipe said so….

  3. Bateman233 says:

    This recipe is absolutely incredible, thanks! Will be making it this weekend.

  4. Raul says:

    The quality of these pictures are spectacular!!! Like nothing I’ve seen before. Makes me feel like singing praises to the almighty Jehovah himself… It surprises me to learn that this photographic Van Gogh originated from a measely iPhone camera… What type of phone exactly did you use for these visually poetic works of art???

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