bucatini two ways
One of our favorite ``long pasta" dishes in Rome is bucatini all'amatriciana.
Bucatini are spaghetti length straight macaroni, about 3mm wide, while perciatelli are
somewhat narrower. For some reason DeCecco imports
perciatelli to the US instead of the more common bucatini found in Italy, so we end up
using them, instead unless we get fresh bucatini from Carlino's, our local trusted fresh pasta source.
When cooked, both are somewhat less user-friendly than spaghetti in the fork-rolling and
mouth-insertion phase because of their extra thickness, seeming to have a mind of their
own which easily leads to sauce splattering. Wearing a big napkin tucked in at the neck is
a wise move when feeding, if protecting your shirt from ugly tomato sauce stains is
something you care about. If you are one of those long-pasta amateurs who already has
trouble rolling spaghetti on a fork, you're in trouble here. Lots of slurping is required,
but try to avoid overly loud sucking noises.
The traditional amatriciana sauce is made with tomatoes, garlic, and pancetta, an
Italian lean bacon that comes in a roll like lunchmeat until sliced (thick, request about
1/8 in thick slices from the 3 1/2 4 inch diameter roll) but which is not really
substitutable by American bacon and should not be tried. With a touch of pepperoncino for
an extra kick, but not enough to make it spicy hot. We trust Marcella
on this one.
But if we don't have any pancetta in the freezer waiting for this dish, we have to
improvise. For our nontraditional sauce, we had some garden fresh tomatoes from a relative
and some farm fresh sweet peppers and a bag of mint leaves from a friend. Fresh tomato
based sauces are quick and delicious and can even be nutritious, as we hope this one is.
perciatelli with fresh tomato and sweet pepper sauce
- for two people, no leftovers:
- 1/2 lb bucatini/perciatelli
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
- 2 medium, ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped
- 1/4 t cayenne red pepper
- salt to taste
- black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 T fresh mint, chopped
- 1/4 c freshly grated parmigiano
- First start the pasta water boiling. Then begin the sauce but take a timeout to throw in
the pasta when the water starts boiling enthusiastically, preceded by some salt of course.
(Our DeCecco perciatelli box says 11 minutes boiling time.)
- The tomatoes also require maybe 30 seconds in boiling water to loosen the skins, which
must then be peeled. You can do this in the pasta water just before throwing in the pasta.
- Over low heat, sauté the garlic in olive oil a few minutes, then add the chopped pepper.
- A few minutes later throw in the chopped tomatoes. Let simmer.
- 10 minutes from the start throw in the spices. Turn off after few minutes.
- When the pasta is done (al dente), drain and return it to the pasta pot, stir in the
sauce and parmigiano and serve.
- We never peel the tomatoes, but maybe this once we did... If it's too much of a hassle,
forget it. A little skin never hurt anyone... [This attitude was confirmed by a Philly
food writer Jim Quinn whom we really respect for his wonderful food writing, in a Philadelphia Magazine article about fresh tomato
sauces from South Philly (saucy things; Quinn on Food; Aug 2000 (Page 235).]
- A little detail we never discuss: How much salt in the pasta water? Big grained salt,
fine grained salt? bob never really knows and just dumps some fine salt in, but marcella
says 1 1/2 t per pound of pasta.
- 1 lb bucatini/perciatelli
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 T butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 2 1/8 in disks of pancetta, chopped into small pieces, say 1/2 x 1/4 x 1/8 in
- 1 1/2 c canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, drained and cut up
- chopped hot red chili pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- 3 T freshly grated parmigiano
- 3 T freshly grated romano
- Again start the pasta water boiling etc.
- Put the oil, butter and onion in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté a bit, like
- Then add the pancetta and cook about a minute, stirring a few times.
- Add the tomatoes, chili pepper, and salt and gently simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.
- Taste and correct for salt and hot pepper.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce, then mix in the cheese.
- Serve with optional freshly ground black pepper, more cheese if you really love it.
- We just use the standard large can of Italian plum tomatoes, or even just fresh plum
tomatoes, skins and all.
- This is a terrific pasta combination.