Thursday, December 8, 2011


Bucatini with Guanciale and Tomatoes ...
One of the classic pasta dishes in Italy, Bucatini all’Amatriciana is also one of the most famous.

Bucatini is a long extruded pasta, similar to spaghetti, but is thicker with a very narrow buca or hole running through its center. The sauce is named after the city of origin, Amatrice, located near the borders of Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo and Lazio. Location is important because it is reflected in the simplicity of the sauce, being only a combination of ripe tomatoes and guanciale, cured pig’s cheek. Often pancetta, cured pig’s stomach referred to as “Italian bacon”, is substituted for guanciale since it can be difficult to find.

While Amatrice used to be part of the Abruzzo region, in the twentieth-century it was annexed to the region of Lazio. So over decades there has been a blending of regional styles with almost as many versions of this dish as there are cooks! This simple sauce can be made with chopped tomatoes or a prepared tomato sauce but for me the very best is made with pieces of juicy tomatoes.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces guanciale
1 red onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon hot chili flakes (or more to taste)
12 ounces passata (pureed Italian plum tomatoes) or 1/2 can of Italian plum tomatoes, crushed
1 pound bucatini or spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Slice the guanciale 1/4-inch thick roughly chop.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the guanciale until crisp. Remove the guanciale and drain, keeping two to three tablespoons of the fat in the pan.
3. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the hot chili flakes and sliced onions to the pan, cooking until slightly soft.
4. Add the tomatoes to the pan,season with salt and black pepper to taste, and cook over low heat.

5. Drop the bucatini into salted boiling water and cook until nearly al dente.
6. When the pasta is nearly done, return the guanciale to the pan with the sauce. Drain the pasta (reserving some of the cooking water) and add it to the pan with the sauce, cooking for about a minute until the pasta is al dente and some of the sauce has been absorbed. If the sauce has become too dry, add a few tablespoons of the reserved water.
7. Off the heat, toss with the grated pecorino romano and serve.

The Wine Pairing with 
Bucatini all'Amatriciana ...

Pio Cesare Barbera D'Alba 2007

The Pio Cesare Barbera D'Alba provides a good  consistency  as it delivers aromas of oak, vanilla and caramel, with light cherry, polished tannins and a long and dry finish that reminds coffee.

Pio Cesare is a family company, founded in 1881 by Pio Cesare in the region of Alba, Piedmont, Italy.

Tutti abbiamo incontrato lo sguardo di qualcuno e sentito una specie di “riconoscimento” che avrebbe potuto essere l’inizio di un amicizia. Ma poi le luci cambiano, il treno parte, la folla fa ressa tutto intorno… e non sapremo mai. 

Pam Brown