March 7, 2007 1:13 AM | By Adam Roberts | 14 Comments

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:


"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!


Here is Mario's recipe online:
This page includes the basic sauce recipe.
Here is the Babbo recipe archive:

Bucatini is a long pasta, like spagetti, but fatter, and with a hole through the middle. "Buco" means "hole" in Italian. The hole traps some of the sauce.

Bacon in pasta sounds really good. I like your ratiolization. :-)

All the best,

Now you're making me hungry! This is my favorite pasta of all time. You can usually find bucatini noodles in Italian food shops, but beyond that its pretty hard to come by. Thanks for reminding me about it, i'm going to have to pick up some bacon on the way home from work :-)

i love this dish. they sell the pasta, plus an even THICKER bucatini-like noodle called Perciatelli, online at The brand is Rustichella d'Abruzzo. I think it's what Babbo uses.

How can you do this to us, especially we who are in the worst deep freeze recorded in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Please have a yummy drink for both of us, maybe a special apple martini? I'm dreaming now. Bon Voyage mon ami.

I am so conflicted... sorry you are away in Florida... but somehow that pales in comparison to a dish with 3/4 pound of bacon. We will all be porkers when you return!

While you're in Boca, drop down to Fort Lauderdale and take in Madras Cafe for some outstanding Indian food. It's at the corner of McNab and Powerline. Your parents will know the area. Also, there is an amazing food find in WPB, La Michoacana. It's a Mexican ice cream and popsicle store. You haven't had good frozen treats until you've had a passionfruit or tamarind popsicle from this place. A total dive but worth the ride. For some outstanding ceviche and Peruvian food, head to the Inca Grill at the corner of 20th St. and US1 (Federal Hwy) in Boca. Their ceviche is probably the best I've had.

Oh, and should you run across a chain of Italian restaurants called Rotelli's ... run away fast. It's mediocre but ubiquitous.

The question here is, where/what will you eat in Boca???

The Food Shack in Jupiter is awesome. Worth the wait to get in.

The Food Shack in Jupiter is awesome. Worth the wait to get in.

I've been making Marcella Hazan's version of bucatini all'amatriciana for ages now, and it has been my favorite comfort food since my first bite. Her recipe has no garlic, but includes a little butter, which I think adds richness to the flavor of the tomatoes. So, SO good.

Oh you poor things! Hope you don't suffer too much down there. ;) Thanks for the recipe to tide us over while we miss you and worry about you!

Help - what's "basic" tomato sauce? not a ragu- or newman's-type? what brand did you use? Thanks in advance for ruining our health!

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