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Bucatini amatriciana with ricotta salata

Bucatini amatriciana with ricotta salata
Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

BACK in the last century, an Italian sommelier who became a friend spent a fair amount of time in my kitchen, much of it insisting that nearly every iconic American food was made not just first but better in the ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 ounces pancetta, in one piece
  • 1 tablespoon best-quality olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes in puree
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 pound bucatini or perciatelli
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely crumbled ricotta salata

Step 1Cut the pancetta into one-fourth-inch dice.

Step 2Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until it crisps and renders its fat, about 10 minutes. Remove all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and discard. Add the onion and cook, stirring until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, then crush the tomatoes into the pan and add the puree. Cook, stirring to crush the tomatoes into the finest bits, for 5 minutes. Simmer 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 3While the sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil with salt (about 1 tablespoon for every 2 quarts -- it should taste salty). Fifteen minutes before the sauce is done, add the pasta to the water. Stir and then cook until it is just al dente, 11 to 12 minutes or according to the package directions.

Step 4Reserving one-half cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta in a colander. Add the butter and toss quickly, then transfer to the pan with the sauce. Stir until the strands are thinly but evenly coated. Add a little cooking liquid if the pasta seems dry. Add half the ricotta salata and stir to combine well. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl or platter and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Serve hot.

Note: Ricotta salata is available at cheese shops and specialty stores including the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, the Cheese Store of Silver Lake and Surfas in Culver City. Also available at select Whole Foods markets.


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