Hello and Welcome to Sunday Supper! Happy Spring! It’s a little chilly here in Athens, but the sun is shining this weekend. After last week’s rain, everything is greening up; flowers are putting on their early-spring show. When I haven’t been admiring the cherry blossoms in my yard, I have been watching Stanley Tucci’s show, Searching for Italy. In the Rome episode, Tucci orders Rigatoni all’Amatriciana. Needless to say, I had to try this. So today, we are making Bucatini all’Amatriciana.
The all’Amatriciana is the sauce; it consists of guanciale (Italian salt-cured pork cheek), tomatoes and pecorino cheese. The recipe I found is from Bon Appétit and it’s a little different, due to the the addition of onion and garlic. The additions of garlic and onion seem to be a little controversial, nevertheless it’s amazingly delicious.
Let’s start with the sauce. If you cannot find guanciale, you can substitute with pancetta. The flavor will definitely be different, but no less delicious, I’m sure. I had never had guanciale before and I was surprised at how different its flavor is from pancetta. Guanciale has less of a bacon flavor, and more of a deep pork flavor than pancetta.
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Sauté the guanciale until it’s golden and crispy. Then add the red pepper flakes and the fresh cracked black pepper. Stir and cook for a few seconds. Then add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often until the onions and garlic are soft, 5-8 minutes.
Take the entire can of San Marzano tomatoes and pour it into a large measuring cup, then hand crush the whole tomatoes in the sauce and then pour the whole thing into the pan with the guanciale, onions and garlic.
Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile get the pasta started.
While the sauce is cooking and reducing, get a large pot of salted water boiling. Cook the bucatini for about 8 minutes. We want the pasta less than al dente because the bucatini will finish cooking in the sauce.
Before draining the bucatini, scoop out one cup of the pasta water and set it aside. Then drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Use tongs to toss the pasta in the sauce.
Once the pasta is mostly coated with sauce, add about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and continue to toss to coat the pasta. If the sauce is too thick, keep adding pasta water a little at a time, tossing to coat the pasta.
Then, add the finely grated pecorino and toss to combine.
Turn off the heat and use tongs to transfer portions of pasta to shallow bowls.
I am no Roman chef, but this pasta dish kinda blew my mind. For this Sunday Supper, treat yourself to a little trip to Rome with a bowl of Bucatini all’Amatriciana! Take it one further and watch the Rome episode of Searching for Italy while you tuck into this amazing pasta dish.
I encourage you seek out the guanciale. It’s worth the effort of making an extra trip to your local specialty cheese or charcuterie shop. If your town doesn’t have one, you can find it online.
I didn’t have a chance to try all’Amatriciana when Alex and I were in Italy (missed flights: long story…), but this dish sure makes me feel like I have taken a tiny vacation back. Have you been to Italy? If so, what was your favorite dish you had there? Let me know in the comments below or reach out on facebook and Instagram! Thanks so much for joining me today for Sunday Supper. You can always catch up on Sunday Suppers, in case you’ve missed any recipe. Take care and be well everyone! xo Kelly
Guanciale, Italian salt-cured pork cheek, deeply flavors this classic sauce. A little spice from dried chili and black pepper is perfectly balanced with the chunky tomato sauce and pecorino cheese. A little bit of Rome in a bowl.
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 oz. thinly sliced Guanciale or Pancetta (sliced like short matchsticks)
- 1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 1/2 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 3/4 cup Minced Onion
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 28-oz. Can Peeled Tomatoes with Juices, crushed by hand
- Kosher salt
- 12 oz. Dried Bucatini or Spaghetti
- 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino
Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add guanciale and sauté until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes.
Add pepper flakes and black pepper; stir for 10 seconds.
Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until soft, about 8 minutes.
Add tomatoes (with juices).
Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes (2 minutes before al dente). Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water and drain pasta.
Add drained pasta to sauce in skillet and toss vigorously with tongs to coat.
Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. (Add a little pasta water if sauce is too dry.)
Stir in cheese and transfer pasta to shallow bowls.