What To Eat While I’m Away (Bucatini All’Amatriciana)

Pity us, if you must, but Craig and I are leaving these record-low New York temperatures for the tortuously warm tropical climes of Boca Raton, Florida where we’re headed tomorrow to visit my family. Yes we’ll be suffering in our bathing suits and shorts as we sip pina coladas by the pool, but we’ll know, in our heart of hearts, that you’ll be thinking of us during this trying time.

“But Adam,” you scream, “what will we eat while you’re away?”

Don’t worry! I have the answer and the answer is in this picture:

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“What’s that?” you ask.

That, I answer, is a major contender for the best pasta dish I’ve made thus far in 2007. It was inspired by my recent meal at Del Posto Enoteca. It’s Bucatini All’Amatriciana and it’s the richest, most comforting bowl of pasta you can make for yourself and/or your loved ones.

It’s also one of the most unhealthy. It has (get ready for it) 3/4 lbs of bacon in it! That, for me, was an entire package of bacon. Wow. But I rationalize it this way: in this package there are 12 pieces of bacon. I cooked this for three people. So we basically had 4 pieces of bacon each. That’s not crazy, is it?

And this sauce is so easy because you can cheat. I cheated and bought pre-made tomato sauce, something I rarely do when I’m just having pasta and tomato sauce for dinner, but here it saved a step and didn’t make me feel guilty because you’re sort of making a sauce even though you’re already using a pre-made sauce. Got that?

What follows is the recipe from Mario Batali’s Babbo cookbook. I’ll be back on Sunday and you’ll get to hear about all that we ate in miserable miserable sunny Florida. Have a great rest of your week!

Bucatini All’Amatriciana

Serves 4

3/4 lb guanciale or pancetta, thinly sliced [you can substitute good slab bacon, according to Mario’s note, and that’s just what I did)

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 red onion, halved and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 1/2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce

1 pound bucatini

1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only

Pecorino Romano, for grating

1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

2. Place the guanciale slices in a 12 to 14-inch saute pan in a single layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered form the meat, turning occasionally. Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard half the fat, leaving enough to coat the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. Return the guanciale to the pan with the vegetables, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion, garlic, and guanciale are light golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Cook the bucatini in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta an add it to the simmering sauce. Add the parsley leaves, increase the heat to high, and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese and serve immediately.

Two notes from Adam:

– I couldn’t find bucatini in the store but I found something that was just like bucatini, only I don’t remember what it was, anymore, because I threw out the box. But bucatini is super thick spaghetti. On the back of the box was a recipe for this very dish, so if you see super thick spaghetti with a recipe for all’amatriciana on the back, buy that!

– I took the pasta out a bit early and I’m glad I did. Taste the pasta after about 10 minutes and see if it’s just al dente. That’s when you should take it out so it can finish with the sauce. Bon apetit!

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