One of my favorite pasta dishes of all. I've seen this made several ways in food blogger-land and in restaurants, and I even have my own take on it. I use a basic recipe from mario batali at babbo. Mario has some of the most perfect Italian dishes ever; yes I know he's Italian, but he truly has the perfect touch on Italian cuisine. Have you ever been to babbo in nyc? You must go, if you are an avid Italian-foodie. They have this dish called " sweet potato lune with sage and amaretti" that is, the oh, how do I describe it in words for you? Heaven, heavenly, perfect pairing of pasta, sweet potato and a touch of amaretti? And before I forget, this is important, mario batali has the best basic tomato sauce I've ever come across. I make it all the time when I want a fresh tasting tomato sauce. That same sauce is used in this recipe and is a perfect sauce for making large batches and freezing and/or canning; you can use it on almost all of your Italian red sauce recipes. Something about his tomato sauce is just right: the right balance in acidity with sweet. Try it sometime, I think you might grow to like it as I have done over the decade, plus it's very easy for anyone just starting out in cooking Italian cuisine.
What I do to this recipe, which can be found here, I add chopped roasted red peppers to this right after I sauteed the red onions. I've always like the extra taste of the roasted peppers. If you can find guanciale please use it; if not then pancetta will do. Please note my changes.
¾ pound guanciale, or pancetta, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
1 red onion medium size, halved & sliced ½-inch thick
1 roasted red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 ½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups basic tomato sauce (I used 1 cup, see below for recipe)
1 pound bucatini
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
Pecorino Romano, for grating
Being 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
Place the guanciale slices in a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan in a single layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered from the meat, turning occasionally.
Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard half the fat (I never discard the fat, only a 1/4 of it; you need some of the fat for flavor), leaving enough to coat the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes.
Return the guanciale to the pan with the vegetables, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions, garlic and guanciale are light golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Cook the bucatini in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the simmering sauce. Add the parsley leaves, increase the heat to high and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese and serve immediately.
Basic Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot (I use one large carrot), finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand & juices reserved
Salt, to taste
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer. Should make 4 cups.