A Classic Roman Dish - Bucatini all'Amatriciana
Like many of you, Meg and I watched the Stanley Tucci special on CNN called Searching for Italy. In the Rome episode, he has lunch at Armando Al Pantheon to enjoy their famous rigatoni all'amatriciana, one of Rome's famous pastas. I made it a little different and call it bucatini all'Amatriciana.
Of course I had to run out and buy the ingredients so we could make it at home. Not a lot of ingredients and very simple to prepare and absolutely delicious. Let's look at some of the ingredients.
Bucatini is a pasta that looks a lot like spaghetti but it is thicker and has a whole running down through the strand. My kids like to say it looks like a straw made out of pasta.
If you lived in Naples, Italy, you would call this pasta perciatelli. Same pasta, just called something different in a different part of Italy.
For years you could only find bucatini pasta in speciality markets or Italian grocers, but now I'm finding it in my local supermarkets. I guess it is becoming more popular and is being used in more Internet recipes.
The Italian word for hole is "buco" so this is where this pasta gets its name. If you can't find bucatini, try substituting spaghetti or linguini.
Guanciale pronounced (gyaan chaa lay), is a cured meat from a pig's cheeks. Not easy to find in most supermarkets, you may have to head to a specialty food market or a good Italian grocer. A good substitute is pancetta, another cured meat from a pig but from the belly. And if you can't find any pancetta, I suppose I would give prosciutto a try.
Pecorino Romano Cheese
One of my favorite Italian cheeses pecorino Romano. My favorite brand is Locatelli. It's been around for over 200 years. I love substituting pecorino for parmesan cheese and often find myself eating a small piece for dessert if there is any extra.
It is a little saltier than parmesan and has a sharp, acidic taste. It is an aged sheep's milk cheese.
- To a large pot of water, add salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Add bucatini pasta and cook according to package direction until al dente.
- Heat a large fry pan over medium heat. When hot, add olive oil and then diced guanciale. Saute for 4 minutes until the guanciale's fat renders out. The guanciale will start to turn golden and become crisp. Stir frequently.
- Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add diced tomatoes and oregano. Lower heat to a simmer and cook sauce for 10 minutes.
- Add hot pepper flakes to taste.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Drain pasta reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to combine. If the sauce seems dry, add some of the pasta water.
- Plate the pasta and sauce in bowls and finish with a topping of freshly grated pecorino cheese.
- Serve immediately.