Bucatini all'Amatriciana

Somerset Foodie Bucatini alla Amatriciana Recipe

Providing a recipe for one of the classic Roman pasta dishes is always fraught with danger...

a) because I don't come from Rome and b) I remember cooking for my wife's Great Aunt, who lived in Naples and was always quick to point out when I'd got something wrong! I love the simplicity of this dish and I want to share it, so here goes...

The base for this dish is guanciale or pancetta which when cooked, releases wonderfully flavourful fat! When this fat emulsifies with a little pasta cooking water it creates a beautiful coating for the pasta. It's best to use guanciale or pancetta cut from a whole piece, ready-cubed packets of diced pancetta have generally not been cured properly and often lead to disappointment.

Many recipes for this dish will include a tin of plum or chopped tomatoes however, I feel that using chopped up fresh tomatoes creates a much lighter and more delicate flavour and really allows the marriage of pancetta and pasta to shine. As with all pasta dishes, the sweet spot is creating harmony between the sauce and the pasta in a single dish. A little pasta 'cooking water' is important, so don't drain that away and let the pasta finish cooking in the pan with the sauce for the last couple of minutes, it really does make all the difference.

Recipe for Bucatini all'Amatriciana
Serves 3-4
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
200g good quality pancetta or guanciale, diced into small cubes
1 white onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
4 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
1 glass of white wine
400g bucatini pasta
Lots of grated Grana Padano cheese
Sprig of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Start by filling a large pan with water and bring to the boil, adding plenty of sea salt - as a guide, the water should taste like sea water.

2. Heat the oil in a large, wide, heavy-based frying pan and gently fry the onion and pancetta for around 5 minutes - the pancetta should have become golden and the onion perfectly soft.

3. When the water is really boiling, drop the pasta in to cook.

4. Add in the chilli flakes and diced tomatoes to the onion and pancetta and cook for a further 3-4 minutes - the tomatoes should be breaking down and releasing their juices.

5. Now add the white wine to the pancetta pan and let it bubble down to boil off the alcohol. It will amalgamate with the tomato juice and make everything a little bit more saucey!

6. Once the pasta has cooked for 2 minutes less than it's stated cooking time, using tongs, pull the bucatini out of the water and dump it into the pancetta pan. Some of the cooking water will inevitably come with the pasta - this is a good thing.

7. Keeping the pancetta pan on a low heat mix the pasta in with the pancetta, onion, tomato and all the lovely cooking juices. Continue to do this for a couple of minutes, adding a few spoons of pasta water to emulsify the sauce.

8. Once the pasta is almost at the perfect texture (make sure you taste some), start grating in plenty of Grana Padano, mixing this in as you grate.

9. Finish with the chopped parsley, black pepper and oh yes, a bit more grated Grana padano.

Enjoy! Foodies, don't forget to tag us in your socials and leave a review for my recipe below when you make this at home. Ben 

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