Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pasta all'Amatriciana

Craving spicy with a taste of the old country led my tattered culinary aspirations to the inspired Amatriciana pasta dish, a Roman favorite. I say inspired as I was compelled to make this my own as I was short the traditional guanciale or 'pork cheeks' typically used in this dish. I substituted pancetta the Italian salted bacon instead as guanciale is not usually readily available although this is now changing, especially if you have a good Italian grocer nearby. Also, I used the long fusilli pasta as a replacement as it was handy in the cupboard for the traditional buccatini that is normally used. Honestly, you can use any pasta you would like as I don't think the Italian food police will be at your door. However, use the most appropriate pasta if you feel determined to do it the right way.

As I have discovered, the dish originates in the town of Amatrice in Lazio, Italy and has long been adopted as a Roman favorite and as with most Italian dishes, it has it's purists in terms of ingredients. That said, it is traditionally made with olive oil, onions, guanciale, crushed tomatoes, pepporoncino, and grated pecorino romano cheese. It is relatively easy to prepare and delivers a bit of kick as you can make it a hot as you want by adding more red pepper. I decided to make it in what I understand is the traditional way of first wilting the sliced onions in the pan with a half cup of salted pasta water before adding the oil and sauteeing with the red pepper. Next I diced the pancetta and fryed it in the same pan until it rendered its fat, then added and carmelized the tomatoes before mixing all the ingredients, heating all together until the flavors have married.

Toss with the cooked fusilli, top the dish with the grated pecorino romano cheese and some chopped fresh parsley. I paired the pasta with a bottle of Amano a 'primitivo' italian red from Puglia which I believe went perfectly with this rustic italian dish. The dish was hearty, perfectly spicy, salty with crispy pancetta, sweet onions with the al dente pasta. Declared a success by all neither the dish nor the wine lasted long on the table.

The results pictured above before making their way to the table. Buon Appetito!!

Pasta all'Amtriciana

I Medium onion sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
4 oz Diced pancetta or guanciale
1 Can crushed tomatoes or blanched fresh peeled, then crushed plus juices
1 lb Buccatini or long Fusilli pasta
Red Pepper (to taste)
Pecorino Romano
Chopped fresh flat leaf Parsley

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