Bucatini all’Amatriciana

by arnold on June 24, 2008

A couple months ago, my friend Steph asked me what was in Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, which just so happens to be one of my favorite Italian dishes. The minimalist combination of tomato sauce, fried pancetta and chili flake tossed with noodles (usually spaghetti or bucatini) is comfort food at its simplest and best.


Bucatini All'Amatriciana

I first fell in love with Amatriciana when it was a regular menu item at Buca di Beppo, the chain of kitschy, obnoxious, family-style Italian-American restaurants. I would have been happy replicating something similar to that version, but I was extremely pleased to see that Babbo Ristorante, the flagship of Mario Batali’s restaurant empire, had posted their recipe online.


Italian Tomato Starter Sauce

Mainly due to laziness and because guanciale is not the readily available at Safeway, I took a few liberties with the ingredients. I picked up a box of Trader Joe’s Italian Tomato Starter Sauce, which I felt was basic enough to use instead of making a batch of tomato sauce as outlined in the original recipe. I also picked up some chopped pancetta because I couldn’t find whole or sliced pancetta. You can substitute bacon in a pinch, but you’ll get a much bolder flavor than intended. (which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it…) I used bucatini (thick round noodle with a hole in it) for this attempt, but my wife’s not a big fan of bucatini, so next time I do this, I’ll just use regular spaghetti.

Overall, this dish was really easy to make and the final results were great. If you’re not into spicy food, then adjust the amount of chili flakes to taste. Also, the Trader Joe’s Starter Sauce is a shortcut I’ll gladly take when making this dish again.


INSTRUCTIONS
½ pound pancetta, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
1 red onion, halved and sliced ½-inch thick
1½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1½ cups Trader Joe’s Italian Tomato Starter Sauce
1 pound bucatini or spaghetti
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
Pecorino Romano, for grating

1. Being 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

2. Place the pancetta in a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan in a single layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered from the meat, turning occasionally. Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard half the fat, leaving enough to coat the garlic, red onion and red pepper flakes. Return the pancetta to the pan with the vegetables, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until the onions, garlic and pancetta are light golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, add the Trader Joe’s Italian Tomato Starter Sauce, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente approximately one minute less than the time on the package directions. (The pasta will finish cooking when you add it to the sauce.) Drain the pasta and add it to the simmering sauce. Add the parsley leaves, increase the heat to high and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese and serve immediately.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph June 24, 2008 at 11:42 am

Looks great! I think I might try the shortcut sometime. Personally, I think the bucatini adds another fun textural element to the dish…but some great al dente spaghetti would be great too.

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Pam June 24, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Hey Arnie!
I was talking to Maria tonight and thought I would check out your blog. Everything looks great, my mouth is watering. We’re still talking about the hot dogs. It maybe on the menu next camping trip.

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Lando July 12, 2008 at 3:45 pm

We are going have to give this dish a try. I’ve been having too much Filipino style spaghetti lately and this looks like a great change, flavor wise.

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Michael M July 14, 2008 at 11:48 am

You can find whole pancetta at almost any good Italian deli. Just a few places:

1) Canyon Market – Glen Park
2) Lucca – Marina and Valencia
3) Sorrento – Mission

That’s off the top of my head. Get it sliced maybe 1/4″ thick. I like to use a good can of Italian crushed tomato, like San Marzanno … or some name like that. This is one of my favorite pasta dishes! Makes me hungry just reading the post.

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Arnold July 16, 2008 at 11:19 am

@Michael M: Thanks, Michael. Your comment makes me lament that I don’t live closer to SF.

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