Everywhere we went in Italy we met the most fabulous, people - warm, welcoming and endlessly helpful. No-one epitomised this smiling Italian demeanour more than our host at Crossing Condotti in Rome. The lovely Marco booked taxis and guides, suggested and booked dining options and pretty much ensured that our stay in Rome was totally tailored to our needs - even when we changed our minds. He introduced us to our effervescent and knowledgeable Vatican guide, saw that we were well looked after at Dilla, a cool little neighbourhood modern osteria, and booked us for our classic Roman carbonara at the very old-school, genteel and fabulous Al Moro. You'd think that would be enough, but having told him about my blogging obsession, no sooner had we returned home, when he emailed me his favourite recipe for Bucatini all'Amatriciana - a rich, deeply flavoured pasta dish - with intense tomato, sneakily hollow bucatini spaghetti to catch as much of the sauce as possible, the satisfying grunt of guancuiale or pancetta, all finished off with the sharp nuttiness of freshly grated pecorino. You may actually be able to hear my stomach growling in longing from here!!! So a big ole thank you to Marco and his fabulous recipe, so very simple and so incredibly tasty!
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
120g guanciale (cured pork jowl) or pancetta, chopped into lardons
1/4 - 1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
800g tinned tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup grated aged pecorino cheese, plus 1/2 cup extra for serving
400g bucatini or spaghetti
Heat oil in a large heavy based fry pan or pot and cook onion and garlic over a gentle/medium heat until soft and transparent - about 12 minutes. Add guanciale or pancetta, sea salt and pepper, and chilli flakes and cook a further 5 minutes until guanciale is just starting to brown. Add tomatoes and squash with the back of a fork to encourage them to break down. Continue cooking over a medium heat 15-20 minutes to reduce the tomato into a thick sauce, then add 1 tablespoon of the pecorino and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook bucatini according to packet instructions until just al dente - real al dente is more firm to the bite than you might think! Drain pasta and add to pot with the tomato sauce. Gently reheat them together, folding together until the pasta is well cated - for about 3-4 minutes. Fold in the remaining pecorino, check for seasoning and serve with extra pecorino, a hunk of crusty bread and a good glass of red.