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An Italian Classic – Bucatini all’Amatriciana

If you want to make a hearty dish to impress friends or just feed the family a treat then you need look no further than this Italian classic – Bucatini all’Amatriciana. It’s the perfect Fall and Winter food with its rich, warm ragu that carries a bit of a kick. And it’s hearty with a healthy dose of guanciale (cured pig jowl) as well as a good amount of the king of all cheeses – Parmigiano Reggiano and it’s cousin from down south – Pecorino Romano.

 

Bucatini – The Noodle

Depending on where you live, you may or may not have seen bucatini on your market shelves. Originating in Lazio, the area around Rome, it’s basically a long, round noodle with a hole in the center. Think spaghetti that’s twice as big in the shape of a tube. It’s known as perciatelli in some circles so look for that if you can’t find anything labeled bucatini. While it’s terrific with Amatriciana sauce, it’s also well suited for preparations such as carbonara or with a nice salsa verde.

 

The Sauce – Amatriciana

Of course, the key to making a quality version of this dish is all in the sauce. Yes, the quality of the noodle matters but if your ragu is not on point it won’t make a difference. You’re going to want to cook this slow, low and with a lot of love to get that rich, dark, creamy brick-red sauce that’s packed with flavor. Don’t rush it and don’t be in a hurry. I’ve found that the time to make a great Amatriciana sauce is about 60 minutes from the minute the guanciale first hits the pan until you actually serve the dish. Follow the steps below to get it right every time.

 

A Tribute to Amatrice Through Food

If you have paid attention to the news you probably have learned about the tragic 6.2 earthquake that hit Amatrice on August 24, 2016.  Not only were over 200 people killed, but the town infrastructure suffered terrible damage. Over half the town was destroyed – it is an awful tragedy.

Personally, I think the best way to honor the people of Amatrice is to pay tribute to their culture and heritage. If you want to raise awareness of their plight and the events of August 2016, make this dish for friends and give them a bit of a history lesson over dinner.

And, if you’re in a charitable mood, you can give to the Italian Red Cross to support services for victims of the earthquake.

Remarkably, several restaurants around the world have put Bucatini all’Amatriciana on the menu over the past month to raise awareness. They are also donating a percentage of proceeds to the community and people of Amatrice as written about in this recent New York Times piece.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Recipe

Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe

Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 8oz. Guanciale diced
  • 1 Medium red onion finely diced
  • 1 28oz can of whole cherry tomatoes (can use whole peeled or 2 fresh chopped tomatoes as substitute)
  • 1 Tb tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Chili flake (I like to use ground Maras chiles if you can find them)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cracked fennel seed
  • 1 Tb Butter
  • ½ c Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • ½ c Pecorino Romano, grated

Instructions

  1. Place a large saute pan over medium high heat and add both the olive oil and guanciale
  2. Render the fat from the guanciale while stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. The guanciale should start to crisp at this point and the pan may start to develop a brown residue on the bottom.
  3. Reserve the guanciale and leave the oil and fat in the pan
  4. Add the onion and cook until translucent over medium heat - about 3-5 minutes
  5. Add the reserved guanciale, the tomatoes, the tomato paste and the chile flake
  6. Cook until the sauce is reduced and most of the water has evaporated to a point where it has a rich, brick red color – 20-25 minutes
  7. Add small handfuls of both grated cheeses and stir into the ragu
  8. Salt and boil your pasta water, then cook ¾ - 1# of bucatini
  9. Before draining, rehydrate sauce with 4-6 oz. of pasta water – it should develop a creamy appearance due to the starch in the water
  10. Retain 1c of pasta water prior to draining
  11. Drain pasta and pour into a large metal bowl - add the butter to the pasta
  12. Add the ragu to the pasta and toss until it's fully coated
  13. Serve immediately with equal amounts of grated Parmesan and Pecorino cheese
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Show Me the Money!

It’s always easier to cook something when you can see it in pictures. So, without further ado, here’s a step by step visual guide to making a great version of Bucatini all’Amatriciana:

onions guanciale amatriciana

Step 1 – Dice your onions and guanciale

 

guanciale amatriciana

Step 2 – Render the guanciale in the olive oil until translucent. Do not turn it into ‘lardons’ and make it too crispy.

 

fat pan amatriciana

The fat that remains will be quite significant – but oh so good…

 

guanciale cooked amatriciana

Reserve the guanciale in a bowl to add back to the onions after cooking

 

onions amatriciana

Step 3 – Cook the onion in the reserved fat/olive oil mix until translucent – about 4-6 minutes

 

cooked onions guanciale amatriciana

Step 4 – add the guanciale back to the onions in the pan

 

cherry tomatoes amatriciana

Step 5 – Add the tomatoes to the onions and guanciale. I like Italissima products but there are many other good options out there.

 

tomatoes chile paste amatriciana

Step 6 – Add the tomato paste and chili flake and then cook for 20-30 minutes over medium low heat.

 

fennel salt pepper amatriciana

Also add your ‘magic dust’ of salt, ground black pepper and cracked fennel seed

 

Amatriciana sauce

The sauce will part like the Red Sea as you run a wooden spoon through it. Then you are ready to add the cheese…

 

cheese amatriciana

Step 7 – Add a few small handfuls of the grated parmesan and pecorino to the ragu

 

sauce cheese amatriciana

Once the cheese is added, the ragu will start to develop a creamier consistency.

 

Ragu amatriciana

Keep cooking until the ragu starts to thicken and deepen in color

 

bucatini amatriciana

Step 8: Cook your pasta!

 

pasta butter amatriciana

Step 9: Add a knob of butter to the cooked bucatini before dressing with the ragu

 

bucatini all amatriciana

Step 10: Mix, plate and serve!

 

If you enjoyed this recipe you can see more of Jason Price’s cooking and curing on TheHungryDogBlog.com!