Day 49–Amatriciana

Amatriciana con Bucatini is one of those meals that it took moving to Italy to get on my radar and fall in love with. This typical Roman dish served with Italian bread and red table wine: It’s among my favorite meals of all time. The pasta sauce is not your typical red sauce with oregano or basil; it has a distinctive taste all its own. The white wine, red pepper flakes, guanciale and parmesan are a special combination. The Bucatini is hollow in the middle like a straw, and a bit fat. So, it is the quintessential “slurping” pasta that is enjoyably messy to eat.
Amatriciana: (10 people)
~diced pancetta or guanciale, as much as you want 🙂 I used 360 grams
~garlic powder, a healthy sprinkle to cover the guanciale
~white wine, about 1 cup
~pureed tomatoes, 700 g jar x3
~ salt and red pepper flakes to taste
~Bucatini Pasta, 1000 g
~Parmesan or pecorino cheese

This is “peasant food” that is very, very simple to make. Brown the meat (guanciale or pancetta) in a little olive oil for 5 minutes. Then sprinkle with garlic powder and let brown for about 2 more minutes. Then pour the white wine over it and cook for 5 more minutes. Then add the tomato sauce, salt (maybe 1-2 tsp) and red pepper flakes (maybe 1 tsp) and cook for 20 or 30 more minutes. That’s it. Taste and adjust seasonings. It should not be bland (if it is, add more salt) nor intensely hot/spicy. But it should have enough “kick” from the red pepper flakes to be different from regular red sauce (such as marinara) and have a zing to it.

Meanwhile, cook the Bucatini in salted water with a little oil for 9 minutes (do not overcook). Then strain, and place in a large bowl. Pour the sauce in the bowl as well. I reserve a little of the pasta in its pot and a little of the sauce in its pot so that when I am mixing the sauce with the pasta, if I need to add a little more sauce or a little more pasta, I have enough to get the right ratio. It is important to toss the pasta and sauce together–an Italian would never spoon the sauce on top of a mound of pasta. It must be tossed first. And then add a bit of parmesan and toss that as well.

Serve a portion of the tossed pasta on a plate and then add a little more parmesan on top (optional). The Amatriciana with some crusty bread and cheap red wine–it really doesn’t get any better than that.