Saturday, March 19, 2011

bucatini all'amatriciana with mario sauce

this classic italian pasta dish is my daughter britany's favorite. we tried it at lupa, mario batali's roman trattoria around the corner from her manhattan apartment. it was so delicious that we ate every last noodle and had to stop ourselves from licking the bowl.  so i set out to re-create the recipe at home.

it sounds more complicated than it is. once you've made it a few times you can step away from the recipe and just estimate as you go. the richness of the pork fat in the sauce, coating the chewy bucatini, combined with the kick from the red onion and red pepper flake - very yummy! it's quite addictive.

you'll need:
- guanciale (cured pork jowls. if you can't find it, use pancetta which is more readily available. the recipe calls for 3/4 pound, i think you need a bit less, 1/4 - 1/2 a pound for this)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 red onion, halved then sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 1 1/2 tsp of red pepper flake (i reduced this to 1/2 tsp at my husband's request, it was still pretty spicy)
- kosher salt and pepper
- basic tomato sauce (you can really use any basic homemade sauce, the mario recipe included below is now one of my favorites. this recipe uses half of the sauce. i put the rest in the freezer to use for other pasta dishes! i always buzz it with an immersion blender to get rid of any big tomato chunks)
- 1 pound bucatini (i bought mine at chelsea market)
- flat leaf parsley and pecorino romano for garnish

recipe continues after the jump...

step one - boil the water for the pasta
step two - cook guanciale over medium-low heat (as you would bacon) in a saute pan. remove and place on a paper towel lined plate to capture excess fat.
step three - reserve 1/2 of the fat from the guanciale, and add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and the guanciale back to the pan and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes until golden brown. (be careful - the garlic can get too cooked very fast!)
step four - season with salt and pepper and add the tomato sauce. simmer for ten minutes, while cooking the bucatini in the boiling water until al dente.
step five - drain the pasta and add to the simmering sauce (along with 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, chef's secret!) turn up the heat to get it piping hot, and toss in the parsley.
step six - serve in pasta bowls and top with pecoraino romano. serves four. (fewer if you're very hungry or bucatini obsessed)

hoo-hah yummalicious!

mario sauce:

- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 spanish onion chopped in 1/4 inch dice
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 tbps chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 medium carrot
- 2 28 ounce cans of san marzano tomatoes  (i always add some sugar to taste)

step one - heat up the olive oil over medium heat, add onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown (not burned!) 8-10 minutes. i love using le creuset pots for making sauce, but be careful because they get hot very quickly!
step two - add thyme and carrot, cook for 5 more minutes
step three - add tomatoes (crush in your hand over the pot) and their juice, bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. remove the pot from the heat and buzz with the immersion blender here.
step four - season with salt and serve or save!

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