This pasta is such a crowd pleaser and is a true Roman treasure, if I could shove some through the screen to you I would! But since I can’t, read on for the recipe!
I refused to order this pasta for the longest time at one of my favorite restaurants because the description was “bacon and onion pasta” which to my young self sounded utterly revolting. I was wrong, of course, because my young self was stupid in the ways of food. I tasted it and my life was forever change. Then I realized I had to learn to make it!
When I first made this some of the ingredients were new to me and hard for me to find. Like Guanciale which basically fancy bacon. I got this at central market in the deli meat section and asked the butcher to cut it into thick slices for me. I also use bacon a lot if I can’t get to central market, which I’m sure is a sin in Rome. It adds a smoky flavor which isn’t authentic but it still tastes really good. The other weird ingredient to me was Bucatini which is spaghetti with a hollow center. It is so good and they have it a Kroger now! The hollow center fills with the sauce and the texture is perfection. The last weird ingredient was San Marzano tomatoes which are at most grocery stores if you look for them!
My weapon of choice, the dutch oven!
Gathered my ingredients (I went bacon on this particular day).
I start by cooking the onions with salt and red pepper.
When the onions are soft and start to turn golden I add the bacon. I like to keep my bacon in the freezer and then cut it across the strips. So when I add the frozen bacon to the hot pan it thaws into little pieces.
Below are my whole San Marzano tomatoes that I smash up using my fave tool, my hands! (Don’t wear something you like!)
The bacon should take a while to cook because you want to cook it on a low enough temperature so it doesn’t crisp up, the fat just melts down.
When most of the fat is rendered then its time to add the tomatoes and get to simmering.
After about one hour of simmering your sauce should be thick and ready to meet your bucatini!
I like to add my pasta to the pot of sauce and then once all the pasta is coated transfer it to a different bowl. There will be lots of sauce left over for another meal. Then you can cook up some fresh pasta and use your homemade sauce.
Dig in! And try not to let the law of angular momentum get you! (Star talk radio reference.)
Pasta Alla Amatriciana
Extra-virgin olive oil (Optional)
8 ounces guanciale, cut in 1/4-inch strips (or bacon preferably not sugar cured)
2 large sweet yellow onions, cut in 1/2-inch dice (Sweet Onions) (1 will work well too)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt (probably about 3 tbsps by the end of cooking)
2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes
1 pound bucatini (or Spaghetti)
Coat a large saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Cook onions until they are starting to turn golden in color. Add the guanciale (or bacon) and saute over low heat. Cook until it is has rendered most of the fat. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 1 hour, tasting periodically. Adjust the salt, as needed. This sauce needs a good amount of salt to bring out the flavors but try not to add too much salt until the end since the sauce will reduce a lot.
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Once the pasta is done transfer the pasta from the hot water directly into the sauce using a pasta spoon. Mix the pasta into the sauce until it is thoroughly coated. Take the coated pasta out and put in a serving bowl and enjoy!
There will be a lot of sauce left but don’t worry because it makes excellent leftovers! Just cook up some fresh pasta and enjoy!