Saturday, October 24, 2020

ABRAMS Dinner Party: The Barbuto Cookbook...Featuring Bucatini all'Amatriciana #abramsdinnerparty #allamatriciana #pasta #homemadesauce #italianfood

I've been having a blast this month reading through the ABRAMS Books Fall cookbook lineup as part of their Dinner Party blogging group. I'll be spotlighting these fantastic cookbooks over the coming months...and sharing one amazing recipe from each cookbook with you! Today, I'm highlighting Chef Jonathan Waxman's The Barbuto Cookbook. This cookbook makes it possible for home cooks to recreate some of the signature menu items from Barbuto -- an iconic Greenwich Village NYC Italian restaurant. From salads to pizza...and pasta to dessert...there are tons of amazing recipes to choose from.
 On my radar to make soon are Lemon Pasta, Pasta Carbonara, and Melon and Proscuitto Salad. However, as soon as I flipped to the page with the recipe for Bucatni all'Amatriciana, I immediately knew I wanted to try this classic regional Italian pasta!

Closeup of bucatini pasta
This recipe calls for two ingredients that
might be a bit unfamiliar to you. Bucatini is basically thick spaghetti pasta with a hole running through it, making it a hollow inside. It's an ideal pairing for sturdy tomato-based sauces. This sauce also calls for guanciale, a fatty salt- and spice-cured pork jowl or cheek. It's similar to bacon, but it's not smoked. Instead, it's dried and aged for a minimum of 3 months after being seasoned. Guanciale is a traditional ingredient in authentic all'Amatriciana, but it can be difficult to locate in the U.S. For my Texas readers, I purchased domestically produced guanciale for this recipe at the deli counter of my local Central Market. 
Italian guanciale

If you can't get your hands on guanciale, don't fret! Diced pancetta is a good substitute that will provide a similar taste and flavor profile to your all'Amatriciana saucesd. 

Bucatini all'Amatriciana
from The Barbuto Cookbook
  • 1 cup diced guanciale [NOTE: can sub diced pancetta if you cannot locate guanciale]
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 clove whole garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 8-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 12 ounces bucatini [NOTE: I use Rustichella d'Abruzzo brand]
  • Sea salt
  • 3 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
Step 1: In a heavy saucepan, combine the diced guanciale, onion, garlic, and olive oil. Cook gently over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until golden in color. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for 20 minutes -- or until the sauce is flavorful and slightly thickened.
Step 2: While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente (per package directions). Drain the cooked pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Turn off the heat. Add the pasta and pasta water to the sauce in the pan. Add the Pecorino Romano and toss everything together until completely combined.
Step 3: Season the finished pasta with salt to taste. [NOTE: I did not add any extra salt since the guanciale is quite salty.] Serve the pasta in four bowls with a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan.
Y'all...this sauce is totally LEGIT!! This is my kind of recipe...a few simple ingredients, full of Big Flavors, and ready to eat in less than an hour. This was a restaurant-quality meal that earned Michael's highest compliments. Our minds were totally blown that a pasta sauce this rich and complex contained only a handful of ingredients...and was simmered for a mere 30 minutes. That reminds me to share an important cooking tip: when a recipe calls for only a few ingredients, make sure you use the very best quality that you can find. For example: this recipe uses authentic guanciale, imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes and pasta, and freshly grated imported cheeses. 

One last may have noticed that the ingredient list for this all'Amatriciana sauce does not include any seasonings or spices. That's not a typo! The guanciale is quite salty...and it's liberally seasoned on its surface with pepper, sage, rosemary, and garlic. Those seasonings are infused in every bite of the sauce since the guanciale forms the base of the sauce as it cooks. The end result is a perfectly seasoned dish.

Bottom line: this Bucatini all'Amatriciana from The Barbuto Cookbook is a MUST MAKE dish!! It's definitely worth searching stores near you and/or online sources to find authentic guanciale to use. However, I've made the dish with pancetta in the past. The flavor is a little different, but it's still totally delish.

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Barbuto Cookbook as part of ABRAMS Books' Dinner Party blog group. All opinions expressed in this feature are solely my own.

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