Bucatini all’Amatriciana is a famous Roman pasta, yet it is originally from Amatrice, near Rieti, on the border of Lazio and Abruzzo. The combination of guanciale and tomato with the addition of pecorino gives this dish its distinctive brick-red color. Amatriciana is traditionally made with bucatini, called as such because the long pasta has a tiny hole in the middle of the noodle that captures sauce and that stands up to the boldness of this rich sauce. Spaghetti works well here too.
One of the various disputes over the many names given to regional dishes is true for Amatriciana as well. In classic Italian style, there is a heated debate around the spelling of this dish: while most spell it with the initial A, signaling that it is from Amatrice in Lazio, yet the dish can also be spelled Matriciana, from Matrice in Molise -- it just depends on who you ask!
This recipe is from Chris Boswell of the Rome Sustainable Food Project and was printed in the cookbook "Pasta," The Little Bookroom, 2013 —Elena Goldblatt
4 to 6
extra-virgin olive oil
guanciale, pancetta, or bacon cut into 1/2-inch dice
large yellow onion, diced
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
canned whole San Marzano-style tomatoes, pureed with a hand blender or in a food processor
Put the olive oil and guanciale in a 14-inch sauté pan over medium-low heat.
After 3 minutes, add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent and the guanciale has started to brown. Season with coarsely ground black pepper.
Add the tomatoes and the hot pepper flakes and simmer the sauce until it has reduced by two thirds, then turn off the heat.
Drop the bucatini into boiling salted water and cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is almost al dente. Drain the bucatini 3 minutes before the indicated cooking time, reserving 1 cup cooking water. The pasta will cook for the last few minutes in the sauce and absorb its flavors.
Transfer the bucatini to the tomato sauce and turn the heat to medium-high. Simmer the bucatini in the sauce for about 2 minutes, adding cooking water as necessary and stirring frequently to avoid sticking.
Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl and add half of the pecorino. Toss well until the pasta has turned brick red and serve immediately with the remaining cheese.