We tried something new the other night, a traditional dish from Rome and the Lazio region, usually served as the primo or pasta course of a full Italian dinner. For the two of us, it’s an easy-to-prepare single-course dinner: tasty, robust, filling — and a totally different flavor from the Bolognese-style meat sauce we normally have with pasta.
Cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat is translucent, add onion, continue stirring and cooking until onions are soft. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, continue stirring and cooking. Add the cheese, red pepper flakes, and white pepper. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, while the pasta boils. If the sauce gets too thick, add a couple of spoonfuls of the boiling pasta water.
Drain pasta, return it to the pot, and toss it with the Amatriciana sauce. Serve with crusty garlic bread and a green salad if desired.
The traditional Amatriciana sauce is made with guanciali (cured pork cheek). If you can find guanciali, or if you’re using pancetta, you’ll probably want to cook it with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Bacon, which we used as a substitute, generates it’s own fat while cooking, and you won’t need the oil. Don’t drain off the bacon fat — it becomes part of the sauce. The onion is optional, but we like the flavor it adds.
Any long pasta will do, but bucatini is a lot of fun!