Yesterday for lunch, I made an old favorite: pasta with amatriciana sauce. I first had this dish at my favorite spot for Upper East Side Italian, Paola's, which is right around the corner from my apartment - literally - I don't even have to cross the street to get there.
Traditionally, amatriciana is a sauce served with bucatini, a kind of thick, hollow spaghetti. The sauce is made with guanciale (cured pork jowl), plum tomatoes, red onion, and lots and lots of crushed red pepper. I make it with Schaller and Weber bacon, and, yesterday, with some oddly-shaped short pasta I found at Williams-Sonoma.
The sauce takes less time to make than you'll spend getting your water to boil and your pasta to cook, so next time you have 15 minutes on hand, why not give it a go?
Bucatini all'Amatriciana alla Queenie
1/4 pound bucatini or spaghetti
1/8 c. slab bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 small red onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 small plum tomatoes, chopped
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, to taste
Set a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When the water reaches a boil, add salt and the pasta.
While the pasta cooks, heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and had given off most of its fat. Drain all but one teaspoon of the bacon fat from the pan and return it to the heat.
Add the olive oil, red onion and garlic, and cook over medium-high heat until translucent and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook, stirring frequently. Add crushed red pepper to taste - the dish should be spicy.
As the pasta cooks, spoon a little of the cooking water into the sauce, which should be kept at a simmer. The sauce will thicken (thanks to the starch in the water). When the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain it (do not rinse) and add immediately to the skillet. Toss the sauce and pasta together for a minute or so over the heat, then remove from the heat and add the cheese, stirring to combine.