January 27th, 2009

For the Love of Food: Bucatini all’Amatriciana

all'Amatriciana [photo by Flickr Creative Commons member OldStretch]

Photo: OldStretch

When I decided to make one of my favorite dishes EVER—Butcatini all’Amatriciana—the other night, I didn’t bother taking pictures. As much as I want Isaac to experience the joys of good eating (and this is seriously good eating), I’m just not ready to feed him a dish so heavy with pancetta, hot peppers, and olive oil, none of which I’m willing to skimp on. So how could not-so-family-friendly recipe be one of my first posts on ChowMama?

Here’s how: Michelle and I want to share our recipes, tips, and point of view in hopes that we can collaborate with you to raise healthy, adventurous eaters. But, at the end of the day, reading a blog isn’t going to make your child a healthy, adventurous eater. Neither is buying particular products or making particular recipes. It’s your love and respect for food that will instill your children with their love and respect for food. Which brings me to Amatriciana. A dish I’m passionate about. A dish that reminds me of why I love food and, even though he’s never tried it, why Isaac loves food, too.

So here it is. Feel free to make adjustments, if you need to, for your kids. Or just make this for yourself. And, no matter what, cook things that keep your passion for food alive.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

2 tbs organic olive oil
1 large organic red onion, cut into 1/2″ slices
2 cloves organic garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 lb pancetta (or guanciale) cut 1/4″ thick, diced
1-3 organic hot peppers*, thinly sliced (or 1/2 – 1 1/2 tsp organic red pepper flakes)
1 can organic whole peeled tomatoes (28 oz)
1 lb organic bucatini (spaghetti works well, too)
1/2 cup organic Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (plus extra to top!)
salt and pepper

*The amount of pepper you use and whether you seed the fresh ones depends on how spicy you like your food; I typically use 2 fresh peppers, seeds and all. Also, the type of pepper you use will impact the taste of your sauce, so play around. I’ve used everything from red jalapenos to (fewer) scotch bonnets.

1. Put a large pot of salted water on medium-high heat (about 6 qts water to 2 tbs salt). Bring to a boil.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and garlic. Sauté over medium heat until transparent.

3. Create a space in the middle of the skillet by pushing onions and garlic to the side. Spread the pancetta in the open space and cook until it starts to turn brown.

4. Mix together pancetta, onions, and garlic, and add peppers. Keep sautéing until you get a nice golden brown color to everything.

5. Add tomatoes to onion mixture, breaking up each one with your hands. When all of the tomatoes have been added, pour the sauce from the can into the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste (don’t be shy with the salt). Cook for about 15 minutes, until sauce thickens and pulls all the ingredients together. (This is not meant to be a heavy sauce, rather it should give a nice coating to the pasta.)

6. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain, saving about a mug’s worth of cooking water.

7. Toss pasta in the skillet with sauce over low-medium heat. Add cheese, an extra drizzle of olive oil, and the pasta cooking water. Keep tossing until all of the pasta is coated and heated throughout. Taste and adjust seasoning to get it just right–you may want to add more olive oil, cheese, salt, and/or pepper.

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