View this email in your browser

An absolute classic

This week’s recipe for bucatini all’amatriciana is in my top five favourite pasta dishes.

Chunky pork, comforting pasta, sweet tomato sauce, and tangy pecorino combine to pack a real punch.

This week’s album: 
Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Although this album isn’t rated as the band’s best, it’s the one I remember most fondly and with a sense of nostalgia. There was a period at school where this was played relentlessly and everyone wanted to learn to play the title track on the guitar. Look out for ‘Porcelain’ which shows a softer side to the band.

The fantastic four

Bucatini all’amatriciana is one of Rome’s four famous pasta dishes (cacio e pepe, carbonara, and gricia being the other three), with main ingredients of guanciale and pecorino.

We’ve come across guanciale before, but a quick reminder… It’s basically cured pork cheek/jowl, flavoured with pepper, thyme, and fennel. It’s similar to pancetta, but has a slightly stronger and more complex flavour, and gets its delicate texture from being quite a fatty piece of meat.

The name ‘amatriciana’ literally means ‘from Amatrice.’ Amatrice (pic below) is a town in Lazio famous for its production of guanciale and, if you want to be picky, you can’t really call this dish amatriciana if you’re not using guanciale. While guanciale's become easier to find in the UK, pancetta would be a good substitute (just try and get thick-cut cubes/lardons).

VERY IMPORTANT: Roman pasta dishes should always contain pecorino romano and not parmesan which is from northern Italy. There are significant differences between these two cheeses.

Pecorino is made from sheep’s milk and parmesan from cow’s. And pecorino is aged for significantly less time (5-8 months compared to parmesan’s 12-36) which results in a saltier and tangier flavour. Having said that, you can interchange these two as the textures are similar.

Finally: this is the only Roman pasta dish that uses tomatoes. Apparently it was traditionally made ‘in bianco’ (without tomatoes) but this changed around the 1700s. Why? Not a clue. Unlike a lot of tomato based past dishes that require slow cooking to create a deep flavour, 
Amatriciana is all about quickly cooking the tomatoes to retain 'freshness' and keep their flavour light.

What you need

The below serves 2. It takes 2 mins to prep, then 20 mins to cook.

210-250g dried pasta (spaghetti or bucatini)
80g guanciale (cut into lardons or similar size)
60ml white wine
170g tinned tomatoes
(whole & peeled)
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
20g pecorino romano
2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper

Ready, steady, cook

1. For the pasta, place a large pan of seasoned water on a high heat.

2. Add the diced guanciale/pancetta to a large cold frying pan. Put the pan on a medium-high heat. The fat will start to render and the meat will begin to colour. The aim is to gradually colour the meat and get it crispy (don’t rush otherwise it will colour too much before the fat has fully rendered).

3. When the guanciale is coloured and crispy (approx 5 mins), add in the dried chilli flakes followed by the white wine. Allow the wine to boil and reduce by about half (or until the alcohol has burnt off).

4. Remove the guanciale pieces (using tongs/tweezers/slotted spoon) and set aside on a plate.

5. Keeping the pan on the heat, add in the tomatoes and crush lightly using a potato masher or fork. Season with black pepper and a small amount of sea salt (the guanciale will provide most of the salt needed). Leave to simmer while you cook the pasta.

6. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and set a timer for a minute less than the instructions suggest for ‘al dente’.

7. Shortly before the timer goes off, add the guanciale back to the pan with the tomatoes. Now transfer the pasta, using tongs, to the sauce and mix through well. Toss or stir vigorously over a high heat for a minute, adding pasta-cooking water bit by bit until a silky consistency is reached.

Finally, drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil and toss again until emulsified with the sauce.

8. Transfer to warmed bowls and finish with a generous grating of pecorino romano.

Final thought

The quality of tomatoes you use will really make or break this dish. Look for whole and peeled tinned tomatoes and crush them by hand. Crushed tinned tomatoes are usually made up of lower quality tomatoes.

Same time next week,


Painting a pretty picture? 

Tag your dishes with #eatmywordslondon, or hit reply to this email with a photo.


This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp