20 April 2008

bucatini all'amatriciana

Food is one of the things I have very low impulse control over. Yesterday, I caught my foodie friend Arnold's blog and was chatting to him about one of his favorite Italian dishes, pasta all'amatriciana. It looked and sounded so delicious that I had to go out and get the ingredients to make it! Conveniently, my friend and I were going to get dinner in St. Paul, so we stopped by Cosetta's, an Italian deli/grocery/eatery. There, I picked up some pancetta (basically Italian bacon), perciatelli (aka bucatini, which is like a thick spaghetti tube w/ a hole in the middle), and a frozen pizza for a lazy dinner sometime in the future. Arnold pointed me to a version of the dish from Mario Batali's restaurant Babbo in NYC (pictured at left).

My take on the dish is pictured at right. From start to finish, including making the basic sauce, it took 2 hours...maybe I'm slow. I thought it came out delicious! The bucatini noodles, when al dente, are amazing! They remind me of thick Cantonese noodles with their perfect chewiness, "qq." I probably went a little nuts w/ the red pepper flakes, so I recommend sticking to the recipe's 1.5 tsps. I'd also recommend adding a little more sauce if it looks dry (like mine does in the pic). This makes way too much for one person, so I'll be sharing it w/ my cohort for lunch tomorrow. Here's the recipe for you to try this out yourself. It's SUPER easy and proves how sometimes the most delicious dishes are sublimely simple.

Babbo's Bucatini all'Amatriciana
Serves 4
¾ pound guanciale, or pancetta, thinly sliced (if you can ask the deli person to slice it very thin, that's best)
3 garlic cloves
1 red onion, halved and sliced ½-inch thick
1 ½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups basic tomato sauce (see recipe below)
1 pound bucatini (may be called perciatelli; if you can't find that, you can sub spaghetti)
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
Pecorino Romano, for grating

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

2. Place the guanciale/pancetta slices 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. 

3. Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard some of the fat, leaving enough to coat the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes (note: I didn't have to discard any b/c the pancetta was pretty lean). Return the meat to the pan and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions, garlic and guanciale are light golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Cook the bucatini in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. 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.

BASIC TOMATO SAUCE
Makes 4 cups
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Salt, to taste

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

1 comment:

Arnold said...

This looks great, Steph. Glad I inspired you!

I should probably try making this sometime this week. :-)