Around the Island

Binder’s bites: Reconsidering bucatini

SUSAN BINDER PHOTO Bucatini, the spaghetti-shaped noodle that has a hole through it.
Bucatini, the spaghetti-shaped noodle that has a hole through it.

Bucatini All’Amatriciana! Where have you been all my life? I am a pasta lover who has always snubbed bucatini – the spaghetti-shaped noodle that has a hole through it – until a friend of mine insisted I reconsider.

I respect her taste in food, so after many years of being Bucatini free, I ordered bucatini All’Amatriciana at Eataly (cue the choir – ahh, ahh, ahh) and an obsession was born. I couldn’t stop thinking about this extremely simple, and delicious dish. I purchased, and tasted, different brands of pasta from specialty markets and online (I recommend Pasta Di Gragnano I.G.P). I played around with guanciale vs. pancetta. I prefer pancetta. And experimented with chopped vs. pureed tomatoes because texture matters.

The most delicious recipes are often the ones with few ingredients. Use the highest quality ingredients you can, it makes a difference. Be flexible; You want to use butter (more traditional) in place of EVOO? Go for it! You only have yellow onions? Totally fine. Or maybe you, like my family, think locatelli pecorino romano is a superior cheese? No problemo, use it!

Be creative, have fun, and in honor of Columbus Day, give it a try!

2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 lb of bucatini

2T of extra virgin olive oil

4 oz of cubed pancetta

1 large red onion, cut in 1/2, thinly sliced    1t red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)

28 oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes – puree with a hand blender or food processor 

1 C of reserved pasta water (you may not need it)

Pecorino romano to taste

1. In a deep saute pan, over medium heat, warm EVOO and cook pancetta until golden and rendered of fat. With a slotted spoon, remove cooked pancetta and reserve for later.

2. Without wiping out the pan, add the sliced onion and red pepper flakes, cook over medium heat until soft, but not brown.

3. Add tomatoes and cooked pancetta to the pan of onions; let simmer (stir occasionally) while the pasta cooks.

4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package. Just before it is done, ladle out about a cup of pasta water.

5. Strain the pasta; add to pan with sauce, stirring to coat for about a minute. (Use reserved water to thin the sauce if it has become too thick or you need to stretch the sauce).

6. Transfer pasta to warmed serving bowl, add cheese, toss. Taste and add salt if needed.

Serve with more cheese on the side.