As a pasta taskmaster, I’m gonna go out on a limb here. According to legendary Italian cookbook writer Marcella Hazan, All’amatriciana and bucatini are “as indivisible as Romeo and Juliet. But other couplings of the sauce…can be nearly as successful.” I utterly disagree! Those hollow rope-like bucatini tubes are the only noodles that stand-up to this extraordinary sauce.
Not that making this dish is any trouble– most of the cooking is hands-off. Rendered pork fat amplifies the bright tomatoes and red pepper flakes to create a vibrant synergy. It feels crude adding a dollop of butter to the bubbling tomatoes rich with pork fat and olive oil, but just do it. It adds creaminess and pleasantly coats your mouth.
Use home cured guanciale if you can. Pancetta is an acceptable substitute but lacks the nutty depth of dried pig jowl. For the love of god, DON’T USE BACON. The smokiness muddies the delicate harmony. The sauce is done after it has simmered for over an hour and pools of oil collect on the surface. Slather the cooked noodles in the sauce, and garnish with crispy guanciale and grated cheese.
My bucatini all’amatriciana recipe will make you swear off stodgy Prego slop on gluey spaghetti forever. Just please take care while making it.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 ounces guanciale, sliced into thin lardons
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28-ounce can tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 pound bucatini
- 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Regianno
1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the guanciale. Turn the heat up to medium high, and let the guanciale cook for 2 to 3 minutes to get it going, and then turn the heat down to low and let it cook for about 15 minutes or until crispy.
2. Turn the heat down to medium low. Using a slotted spoon, remove 2/3 of the guanciale to a paper towel.
3. Add the diced onion and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
4. Turn the heat up to medium. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 to 3 minutes.
5.Carefully add the tomatoes to the skillet. Cook on low for 15 minutes.
6. Stir the butter into the simmering tomatoes and mash them with a wooden spoon. Cook on low for another 45 minutes or until pools of oil collect on the surface of the sauce. Serve over cooked bucatini noodles garnished with the crispy guanciale and the cheese.