A rainy day, even one in mid-June, calls for a bit of comfort food. So when I left work this evening, headed downtown on the subway, and popped into Whole Foods, wet umbrella in hand, I knew exactly what I was going to make: pasta.
Bucatini all’Amatriciana is a classic Italian dish named for the town of Amatrice, about two hours northeast of Rome. I have a particular fondness for it because I first ate it on Matt’s and my honeymoon in Italy, and I liked it so much that I ordered it—as an appetizer—more times than I care to admit over the two weeks we spent traveling around the country.
So for me, it doesn’t get more comforting than this:
For this recipe, which I adapted from Bon Appétit, I used spaghetti rather than bucatini. To be honest, I did so because Whole Foods didn’t have bucatini, but interestingly, a bit of Internet research just revealed that spaghetti is actually the pasta traditionally used in this dish and the one still used in Amatrice. (Go figure!) I also halved the amount of red pepper flakes since I’m a pretty big wimp when it comes to spicy food, and dialed up the pecorino because, as we all know, cheese makes everything better.
Serves 4 | Adapted from Bon Appétit
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 oz. thinly sliced guanciale, pancetta, or chopped unsmoked bacon
- 1/4 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
- 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino (about 1 oz.)
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, 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, until 2 minutes before al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
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 warmed bowls.