¾ pound guanciale, or pancetta, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups tomato sauce, homemade or good quality jar sauce
1 pound bucatini or spaghetti
Pecorino Romano, for grating
Fresh basil for garnishing
Being a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
Place the guanciale slices in a 12- to 14-inch saute pan in a single layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered from the meat, turning occasionally. Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard half the fat, leaving enough to coat the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. Cut into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
Saute the onions over medium-low heat until very sweet and tender, about 20-30 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute a few minutes more until garlic is tender.
Return the guanciale to the pan with the vegetables. Add the tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
In the meantime, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente.
Drain the pasta and add it to the simmering sauce, tossing to coat.
Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated pecorino cheese, garnish with basil and serve immediately.
Basic Tomato Sauce
adapted from Mario Batali
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Salt to taste
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft.
Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.
This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Makes 4 cups.