A small amount of pancetta/bacon adds big flavor to this tomato and onion sauce. An American verison of a classic dish from Amatrice, near Rome.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
- 4 ounces (1/4 pound) pancetta or bacon, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 28-ounce good-quality canned tomatoes (whole or diced)
- Crushed red pepper, to taste
- Grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
- 1 pound spaghetti
- Cook pancetta/bacon in a wide saucepan or skillet over medium heat (add a bit of olive oil if it’s sticking to the pan). Pour out all but a couple of tablespoons of the fat.
- Add diced onion and cook until soft and transparent.
- Add tomatoes, breaking up whole tomatoes with a spoon. Season with crushed red pepper to taste.
- Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and break down into the sauce. Remove from heat.
- Cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted water (salty like the sea), using tongs or a spoon to separate the noodles. Cook until al dente – spaghetti should still have a chewy bite at the center. Reserve a cup of the cooking water and drain the rest.
- Toss spaghetti with sauce, adding a bit of the cooking water if necessary (this helps smooth distribution of sauce with the pasta). Serve hot with grated cheese.
- Traditionally this dish uses guanciale, an unsmoked pork jowl bacon.
- In Italy, this would be a first course, followed by a second course of meat or fish. So the Italian sauce, which would use fewer tomatoes drained of juice, is lighter and more spare. For American tastes, this is a heartier pasta, with more sauce. Use six ounces of pancetta or bacon for an even sturdier meal.
- This sauce keeps well in the refrigerator, so you can make it a day or two ahead of time.
Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.