(Picture above by Wikipedia)
Originating from the town of Amatrice up in the mountainous Province of Rieti in the Lazio Region, the ‘Amatriciana’ is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Roman- and Italian cuisine.
This simple trattoria-style pasta dish, now eaten nearly all over the world, has as many different variations as there are cooks. It is traditionally prepared with ‘Bucatini’ a kind of thicker spaghetti. A most favourite dish in Rome and Sicily in the south of Italy, whilst in Amatrice itself traditionally spaghetti was used. But I think that now it does not really matter. And if you have neither bucatini nor spaghetti at hand, “…do what the Roman’s (and I) do and….” Use Regatoni.
1 pack of dried Bucatini*or Spaghetti (or even Rigatoni)
200 gr Pancetta or nice lean bacon, cut into thin strips
2 medium sized red onions, thinly sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
3-4 green chilly, cut into a few large pieces
400 ml good tomato sauce (which you have made earlier)
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
150 g Pecorino cheese (coarsely grated)
In a large pan fry pancetta or bacon over medium heat until quite crisp, but not so hard that you might have to give some work to your dentist. Take out with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
Now add to the same pancetta fat the onion, garlic and the chilly and stir quickly. Cook for a few minutes until onions are done. Add tomato sauce and salt, stir again and cook for maybe another 10 minutes on lowish heat.
In a very large pot boil your pasta until ‘al dente’. When done, drain (keeping just a little bit of the cooking water) and immediately add to the sauce, which is still bubbling in the pan. Switch off the heat and mix everything together quite quickly. If you think the sauce is a little bit too dry for your personal taste, add some of the saved pasta water. Only now add the previously fried pancetta to the pasta – move everything onto a pre-heated platter and serve immediately.
But, make sure that your pancetta is really nice and crunchy – to serve soggy pancetta is an absolute no-no in any Italian household.
And, by-the-way, some Italian say that this dish requires no extra cheese on top, and some say exactly the opposite. You choose according to your taste buds – we like the cheese!!
Bon appetito, Carina
(Photo of Pasta © CS/Manningtree Archive)