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Dr. Ken Ciongoli's Bucatini all’ Amatriciana

SERVES 8 . So many Italian dishes like Bucatini all'Amatriciana inherit their names from small regional places such as Amatrice, a town northeast of Rome. Bucatini looks like spaghetti, only thicker and with a hole. The sauce is not for timid taste buds. This is a dish filled with audacious flavors. Made with Italian bacon and hot red peppers, it is always served on August 16, the day after ferragosto, the beginning of the long, and hot, Italian summer holidays.


2 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil

2/3 cup diced pancetta

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon or more hot red pepper flakes or 1 small hot pepper, seeded and diced

4 cups canned crushed plum tomatoes

Salt to taste

Coarse black pepper to taste

1 pound bucatini

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1/4 cup reserved cooking water


Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the bucatini after it is cooked. Stir in the pancetta and cook until it begins to crisp and crackle and turn a deep brown. Do not burn it. Stir in the onion and continue to sauté until the onion softens. Stir in the red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and simmer the sauce, covered, for ten minutes. Keep the sauce warm while the bucatini is cooking.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the bucatini until al dente. Drain the bucatini, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

Combine the bucatini in a large bowl with the butter, cheese, and the reserved cooking water. Transfer the mixture to the sauté pan with the sauce. Reheat the mixture slowly until hot. Transfer the bucatini to a platter and serve immediately.

Note: Originally pig's jowl and cheek, called guanciale, was used in place of the pancetta.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA PRONTO by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2005.

This recipe was originally featured on Show 1510.


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