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Bucatini All’ Amatriciana


Named after a town in central Italy outside of Rome, Amatrice was in the news in August 2016 for a devastating earthquake that leveled this beautiful old village famous for its iconic pasta sauce al’ Amatrician. Many restaurants and chefs around the world have been serving this dish since then as a way of fundraising for earthquake victims. It’s a simple preparation but with amazing flavor. I’m using bucatini here, a long pasta with a hole in the middle, but spaghetti or any other pasta that you like works fine.

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    Serves 4

    Total Time 40 minutes

    Prep Time 15 minutes

    Difficulty Level Easy


    1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

    6 ounces quanciale or pancetta cut in 1/4 inch dices

    1 cup finely diced onion

    3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced

    1/2 tsp fennel seed

    1/4 cup red wine

    1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes crushed with our hands, San Marzano preferred

    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or to taste

    1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste

    Big pinch sugar

    Salt to taste

    1 lb Bucatini or spaghetti

    1/3 cup freshly shredded Pecorino Romano cheese plus more for serving


    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add the guanciale and cook until it just begins to crisp, about 6 minutes. Set aside. If desired, drain some of the bacon drippings and oil from the skillet.

    2. Add the onion, garlic, and fennel seed and cook until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it’s reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes (along with their juices) and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook until the sauce thickens a bit, about 8 minutes.

    3. Season with the red pepper flakes sugar and salt, bearing in mind the cheese will add quite a lot of saltiness to the dish. Stir in half the guanciale and keep the sauce warm over low heat.

    4. Cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta well, reserving ¼  cup pasta cooking water. Add the pasta and the reserved water to the sauce and return the skillet to medium heat. Toss the pasta in the sauce gently until it’s well coated and heated through, about 3 minutes.

    5. Fold in the cheese and top with remaining guanciale. Serve the pasta hot and pass plenty of additional cheese on the side.

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