Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Pacchieri all’ Amatriciana
I have been cooking this pasta dish for many years, since I first had it at Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia, in Milan.
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces guanciale, cubed into small cubes – if guanciale is not available, use of pancetta is acceptable, but the dish will not be as delicious
½ medium yellow onion
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup dry white wine, I use a Pratello 100% Turbiana wine from the Lugana region
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes. San Marzano is a tomato grown in a relatively small region between Naples and Salerno
Sea salt and freshly ground Malabar pepper
1 pound dry Bucatini pasta or, if you can’t find Bucatini, Pacchieri tubes are acceptable
1 ¼ ounce grated Pecorino cheese from Amatrice or any other Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
Some versions of Amatriciana call for onions, while others don’t. Onions have become fairly typical in the Roman recipes; I’ve always used onions in my Amatriciana whose recipe I received from the executive chef of the Bernini Bristol Hotel 35 years ago. However, onions are absent from the original Amatrice dish.
I believe that if a wine is good enough to drink, it should be also used in cooking. I don’t use poor quality wine in my cooking. For this particular dish I either use the Pratello or a good Soave and, if I have neither, a South American Sauvignon Blanc.
Bing a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until a minute before al dente.
Crush canned San Marzano tomatoes by hand before adding them to sauce
While pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add guanciale or pancetta and sauté until crisp and golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add pepper flakes and black pepper; stir for 10 seconds. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and wine, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 15-18 minutes.
Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
Add drained pasta to sauce in skillet and toss to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. (Add a little more pasta water if sauce is too dry). Stir in cheese and transfer pasta to warmed plates.
If you can’t find Bucatini, Pacchieri tubes are fine. I’ve been looking for Bucatini in the Italian groceries in my area without success; so, I’ve substituted Pacchieri that Colavita imports from Italy -- they call it large rigatoni, but it is Pacchieri. If you have a Greek grocer nearby look at their “Misko” pasta line if they carry it; the package sports the illustration of a monk on his mule and the #2 or #5 can be used as a Bucatini. This pasta is used in Greece to make pastitsio, a classic dish, Greece's answer to lasagna.
Another possibility, which I tried this time, is to use a high quality pre-cooked sauce instead of just the San Marzano canned tomatoes. I was sent three jars of Yo Mama’s sauce to try, the original Marinara, a Vodka and a Basil. I used the Marinara and it worked beautifully with the panchetta. I would highly recommend it. https://yomamasfoods.com/
For a wine to accompany the meal, I opened a bottle of Cantico Mucci, a 2016 Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo. An intense tomato sauce requires a bold wine. This classic bottle from Abruzzo worked perfectly with my pacchieri. It has a ruby red color with sour cherries, ripe plums, blackberries and liquorice and herbal hints of oregano, sweet spice and cigar box; it was smooth and had well-balanced tannins with a longish finish. I rate it at 89/100 points.
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