Because yesterday was the 2775th Birthday of Rome, I decided to be Roman in my evening repast.
Spaghetti all’amatriciana. I didn’t have any bucatini, but this bronze-cut high-quality pasta is a principled choice. Actually, it is chitarra.
All’amatriciana is a variant of a much older Roman, Lazio, preparation called “alla gricia”, having just the guanciale and pecorino. Tomatoes are a “New World” thing and didn’t become popularized until a few centuries after Columbus, bless him. There is a fascinating little book about the history of the tomato. A great read. Get it with my affiliate link.
Pomodoro!: A History of the Tomato in Italy (Arts and Traditions of the Table Perspectives on Culinary History)
The set up. The pasta, some San Marzano tomatoes (thanks to a reader), guanciale (thanks to a reader, grated pecorino (thanks to a reader), white wine and olive oil. That’s about it.
You don’t have to have San Marzano. Fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded are the true foundation. In a pinch use canned.
Start the guanciale in some oil. I had a little too much and extracted a bit.
Pull them out and keep them warm.
Work the tomatoes.
A touch of wine and reduce.
Oh yes, I added a little pepperoncino.
Join together the guanciale and your al dente pasta, to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. I added just a little of the starchy pasta cooking water.
Supper. Very easy. Super fast. You can do it too.
A grind of pepper and pecorino.
Remember that your pasta is a significant percentage of the food in that bowl. Therefore, you should get good pasta for a good meal. Remember, too, that the pasta will pick up what your water tastes like. If you have awful water, you will have sub-optimal pasta. Use bottled water if your water is dreadful and see if there isn’t a difference.
Guanciale… from the cheek or jowl of the pig. Essential? Yes and no. Can you use pancetta? Okay, but it won’t be quite the same. Guanciale has a different texture, mouth feel, flavor. BUT… we mustn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You can make a great bowl of pasta with what you have on hand. Improvise, adapt, overcome.