Recipe: Pasta all’Amatriciana (my favorite)

BTD-view-all-recipes2My favorite pasta dish–it is so hard to find! And when I find it, it rarely measures up. Lupa, one of Mario Batali’s renown restaurants on Thompson Street in NYC presents this dish exceptionally well using bucatini pasta. A friend from Italy gave me some maccheroncini pasta from her hometown of Calabria. With this sauce, I recommend an authentic Italian pasta that isn’t too light weight.
After a long search to an unsatisfying avail, I decided to dissect this dish repeatedly & get to the bottom of the yummy mystery. I finally have it down. If what my mother told me was true about becoming what you eat–I might actually turn into this wonderful, flavorful Italian gem. Try it & tell me what you think!

I used

1/2 red onion
5-6 fresh basil leaves
1 carrot
a good virgin olive oil
1 750g box of Pomi tomato sauce
Millefiore (wildflower) honey
ground peperoncini
1 pound maccheroncini pasta
2 salt pellets
3-4 shallots
1/2 pound of pancetta or 8 thick cut strips of applewood smoked bacon
a good red table wine, such as a vino Nobile de Montepulciano

You can substitute
another good quality Italian imported tomato sauce for the Pomi
local honey, although I think this changes the flavor
buccatini substituted for the maccheroncini. In a pinch, use a ribbed penne
cayenne powder in place of the peperoncini
pancetta, which is more authentic than the bacon, but the smoked bacon is a key ingredient in my recipe
3 teaspoons of sea salt in place of the salt pellets

 Lets get cooking…

I start by separating some of the fat from the bacon. Leave a small amount of the fat for flavoring, but discard most of it. Slice the bacon into about 1″ segments.

On medium heat, start cooking the bacon in a 2″ deep sauce pan or iron skillet.


Fill your deep pasta pot with water and toss in the 2 salt pelletsRemember the 3 rules to cooking pasta:

deep pot of water with ample room for your pasta to swim

bring your water pot to a full boil before tossing in your pasta

read your pasta cooking time on the instructions, and take a minute off. Your pasta should have a slight bounce still in it & should never be mushy


Stir the bacon, and while it fills the kitchen with a heavenly smell, pour yourself a glass of the red wine. Let the bottle air a bit before dinner. You will need a splash or two in the pan as well.

Stir the bacon again & finely chop your carrot and your shallots.

Once the bacon is browned and about 1/2 of its starting size, add the carrots and shallots. Cook on medium together until the bacon is nearly completely cooked.

Use small splashes of your red wine to loosen any caramelization on the sides of your pan.

Cook the mixture until the red onions begin to turn slightly soft, but before they are translucent.


Once your water starts to boil add your pasta.

This is bucatini. It looks like long extra thick spaghetti, but it has a hollowed core. It’s quite yummy, but not always easy to find.This pasta came from my friend, Stefania, who gave it to me the last time I was in Rome. It is an artisan pasta, The shape hold the sauce well and might be a shape you can find in your supermarket a bit easier.

If you can’t find either of these, reach for the ribbed penne from de cecco (blue box).

It’s nearly everywhere and is a good pasta.

Once the onions are properly cooked, add the Pomi sauce. I love this sauce. I have seen it in a growing number of supermarkets, so hopefully it will be in reach for you! If you can find some, snatch it up. It’s great for a number of sauces & soups.
Add all of the sauce and about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of filtered water.
Let the mixture cook together on medium for about 3 minutes, stirring it occasionally.
Add your chopped basil.
Now it’s time to season the sauce. This part is really up to your taste buds. Get your sampling spoon ready.
Add about 1 teaspoon of the millefiore honey. If you are using local honey, I think it is much stronger. Cut back to about 1/2 teaspoon. You don’t want the sauce sweet, just use the honey to cut the acid.
Next, add the heat. I cheat. I have a wonderful jar of peperoncini grown in my friend’s garden in Italy and ground by her father. I guard it like gold!
You can find  italian peperoncini, which are just these little peppers…
ground up finely. You can also find the peperoncini flakes (like you see at pizza restaurants) and use your mortar and pestle to grind them up. For the 30 second substitution, use cayenne pepper.
Taste it. Add small amounts of basil, honey & peperoncini until it is perfect. Cleanse your palette with a little wine.
Once it’s right, serve up a bowl and top it with pecorino cheese.

You’d be crazy not to love it! It’s a perfect Autumn bowl of love.
Let me know how it goes.
write often,

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