Bucatini all'Amatriciana

serves 4 as a first course or side dish

the secret to this dish is to not have it be too "saucy" - you want to simmer off some of the moisture from the tomatoes and leave just a thick sauce.  The little bit of pasta water that will cling to the pasta when you transfer it to the sauce in the fry pan will be enough to thin out the sauce a little.

3 ounces pancetta, cubed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon red hot chili pepper (or to taste)
1/4 cup of dry white wine 
1 cup canned whole tomatoes and juice, crushed (use San Marzano if you can)*
8 ounces Bucatini pasta (or spaghetti)
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese 
salt to taste 

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.

In a large fry pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat for several minutes until crisp but not brown. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and reserve, but leave the fat in the pan.  Add the olive oil, onions and chili pepper and cook for several minutes until the onions are just soft but not browning. 

Add the white wine and cook for one minute.  Add the tomatoes (I just use my hand to crush them) and juice and reserved cooked pancetta and cook over medium low heat, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  You want most of the liquid to cook off. 

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until still a little firm.  With tongs, remove the pasta from the boiling water and place right into the tomato mixture. Thoroughly coat the pasta with the tomato mixture.  Turn off heat and add the cheese, tossing well.  Taste for salt and add if needed.  Serve immediately and pass extra Pecorino around.  Be sure to serve a big red wine with this dish.  

 *  tip - If you cannot find or do not want to buy San Marzano tomatoes, I have found that Muir Glen canned whole tomatoes are pretty good.  There are many canned tomatoes that are not.  San Marzanos are going to have a richness of flavor you won't get with most other tomatoes.  They usually are found in 28 ounce size cans.  In a recipe like this, where you just use 1 cup of them, I just freeze the remainder for another use.  They freeze just fine.  

The Italian Dish