Pasta all’amatriciana

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I like incredibly simple meals. One of the simplest and tastiest is pasta all’amatriciana. It has a whopping 5 ingredients – guanciale (essentially pork jowl bacon), tomatoes, pepper flakes, cheese and pasta (well, technically 6 if you count the pasta water) and takes probably 20 minutes to prepare. The recipe that I used was stolen (with a few modifications) from Jennifer McLagan, James Beard Award winning cookbook author, who pilfered it from another cookbook. The only thing that I really did differently was used cappelini instead of bucatini since Mrs. Iron Chef doesn’t like thick pasta. It worked, but it would have been better with thicker pasta as the thin pasta really does absorb more of the sauce. Either way, this was a pretty killer dish.

Note – I converted the measurements from metric, but I used the metric measures when I made this, so it might be a little off. I also left the metric measurements in there if you are so inclined.

The Software
6 oz (175 g) guanciale – sliced into 1/4 inch lardons
2 cups of diced roma tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated Parmiggiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino-Romano (plus extra for topping the pasta)
16 oz (400 g) pasta
1 cup reserved pasta water

The Recipe
Cook the pasta until al dente (time depends on the type of pasta), reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Cook the guanciale over medium heat until browned, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. DO NOT DRAIN THE FAT FROM THE PAN. Add the tomatoes. Cook over medium heat for about 5 more minutes. Add about 1/2 of the pasta water and cook for 2 more minutes. If the sauce is still too thick, add more of the pasta water (it should be slightly watery). Add the pasta and cheese, stir to combine. If the sauce looks too thick, add a bit more pasta water, if not, serve with some grated cheese and ground black pepper.

Notes
If you like more heat, add more red pepper. If you can’t find guanciale, use really fatty pancetta or bacon and you may need to add some olive oil to the pan for additional fat. It won’t be as good, but it will work in a pinch. Use your judgment in adding the water – my tomatoes were very dry so I needed more water that I thought I would. You can add less. Canned tomatoes would probably work if you drained them before adding them to the guanciale. I didn’t take a picture of the sauce, but here is what it should look like before you put the pasta in (I am linking rather than posting my pictures because Chef McLagan is a professional and, frankly, hers was much prettier than mine).

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