(It’s our 50th) Home Movies Tuesday!
Hello and welcome to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:
First things first: HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVID. It was weeks ago, but listen, who cares. A Virgo king if there ever was one, we celebrate you today with your request, Amatriciana (finished with a clove of raw garlic, definitely not allowed but who am I to deny a birthday boy, he likes what he likes, classic Virgo behavior!). We love you!
Secondly: HAPPY 50 HOME MOVIES to us all. That’s right. 5-0 Home Movies for your viewing pleasure. Thank you to everyone who has watched all 50, it has been our greatest joy making them we can’t wait to make 50 more.
If you’re new here, please feel free to delight yourselves by spending a few hours in the archives. While the cadence has slowed, trust there are some wonderful things coming that I promise legitimize the slacking off. More soon!
Okay, moving on. It’s bold of anyone who’s never lived in/doesn’t have a direct connection to Rome to tell you how to make Amatriciana, so I won’t. But I will tell you that this is a version you could make, totally unauthorized, and very delicious.
The first time I remember having this pasta was at Lupa in the West Village about eleven years ago, and it was decided then that it would be forevermore my favorite pasta. Tomato-y, but not saucy. Fatty without relying on cheese. Spicy but not too spicy. While alla Gricia is my favorite Roman pasta, Amatriciana was and remains the pasta I make a version of more frequently than all others. And unlike carabonara (see below for the video tutorial), it’s a prime pasta to make for more than one (since the sauce relies on a whole can of tomatoes, there’s plenty to go around, more the merrier here, etc).
A few weeks ago right after filming this video, I refreshed my memory in Rome (thank you to Da Cesare and Roscioli for setting the Amatriciana bar), and realized I should have probably used crushed or pureed tomatoes for this (I used canned tomatoes that I crushed by hand— nobody’s perfect!), but it still turned out great, so feel free to find freedom in that flexibility.
I would also like to go on record to state I grated my cheese differently, and that was a choice, but perhaps the wrong one. Mistakes were made and videos on YouTube are forever, how do I sleep at night?
Amatriciana is one of the four Roman pastas (along with Cacio e Pepe, Carbonara and alla Gricia). It’s the only one of the four to use tomato product, and in my brain, shares most of its similarities with alla Gricia in that the backbone of the pasta is good, thick pieces of cured pork (typically guanciale, which is cured pork jowl), relies on a bit of heat (black pepper for the Gricia, crushed red pepper flakes for the Amatriciana) and is finished with hard, salty cheese.
Remember when making this that the point is not a “Sunday Sauce/Spaghetti Marinara” end result when it comes to the sauciness, but more a nicely coated piece of pasta to nibble on between bits of rendered pork. Depending on your beliefs about this dish, the pork can be large hunks of crisped meat, or thin pieces of rendered, silky fat. I’ve had it multiple ways and personally prefer the larger hunks, barely crisped on the outside, chewy and fatty on the inside.
*The garlic clove at the end was a personal request from David, and I would be remiss to not reiterate how non-traditional that move is, but a birthday request is a birthday request. Leave it out if you like.
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if you like
¼ pound guanciale or pancetta, cut into ½” cubes
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more
1 28 oz. can whole peeled crushed tomatoes, or whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
12 oz. rigatoni, bucatini, spaghetti or honestly, whatever shape you like
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely grated or chopped (optional)
Pecorino romano, for grating
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium–low heat. Add the guanciale and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the fat has rendered and the guanciale is lightly golden brown, 10-15 minutes (prioritize rendering the fat rather than crisping the meat).
2. Increase heat to medium–high and add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, lightly fried on the ends and on their way to being a little frizzled (not jammy or caramelized, more like fried and still somewhat intact), 5–8 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, letting them toast in the rendered fat for 30–60 seconds or so.
3. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and reduce the heat so the sauce is moving at a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring every so often for 15–20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to your liking. Remove from heat and set aside while you cook the pasta.
3. Cook pasta according to the box instructions to a nice al dente, 8–10 minutes (timing will depend on the type and brand of pasta). Drain, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water (alternatively, leave pasta in the water and remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the pasta water behind).
4. Add the pasta and ½ cup pasta water to the sauce and cook, tossing frequently, until pasta is just past al dente and the sauce has thickened gorgeously, 3–4 minutes. You can always add more water if you like to make it even saucier, personal choice here. Remove from heat and add raw garlic, if using. Toss to combine and warm through to take the edge off a little. Give it a taste and season with salt, pepper and more crushed red pepper flakes, if you like.
5. To serve, divide the pasta among how many ever serving bowls you need, making sure each has plenty of sauce, too. Top with lots of pecorino and maybe more crushed red pepper flakes, perhaps a drizzle of olive oil.