Bucatini all’Amatriciana is one of the quintessential dishes of Lazio. It’s exceedingly simple, but relies on a perfect al dente noodle and a high-quality guanciale to really make it sing. At Lupa Osteria Romana in New York City, chef Rob Zwirz has mastered it. Here’s the official Lupa-approved recipe.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces guanciale, sliced ¼ inch thick and then cut into ¾-inch rectangles
1 small red onion, cut into wedges and separated
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon chile flakes
1 ½ tablespoons parsley chiffonade
20 ounces pureed canned plum tomatoes
1 pound bucatini pasta
¼ cup very finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
¼ cup very finely grated Pecorino Romano
To cure your own guanciale at home
1 pork jowl
1 ounce whole black peppercorns
1 ounce red chile flake
12 ounce kosher salt
4 ounce brown sugar
1 ounce instacure #1 curing salt
Bring eight quarts of water to a boil. Season with salt until it tastes like seawater.
In a large sauté pan, combine olive oil, guanciale and red onion. Cook over medium heat until the guanciale is completely rendered and crispy on both sides. Make sure to turn the onion as needed, allowing both sides to caramelize evenly.
Add the tomato paste, chile flakes, and half of the chopped parsley. Let the paste fry in the rendered fat until it darkens slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree and stir to incorporate. Let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to reduce. Taste for seasoning.
Cook the bucatini in the boiling water for 1 minute less than the package instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving a small amount of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook together for 30 seconds to a minute. Sparingly add some of the reserved pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce so that it evenly coats the noodle. Taste for done-ness.
Add the remaining parsley and remove the pan from the heat. Toss the pasta while gradually adding the cheese, allowing the cheese to emulsify into the sauce and serve immediately.
For homemade guanciale (optional)
Trim the pork jowl of any undesirable glands, skin or excess fat. With a sharp knife, score the guanciale halfway through the meat. You want the scores to run parallel with the natural striations of the meat.
Mix the remaining ingredients to make the guanciale cure. Liberally rub the meat with the cure, using your fingers to press the salt into the grooves and pockets of the jowl. Leftover cure can be saved indefinitely in the refrigerator.
Refrigerate the meat for a minimum of 1 month, but up to 6 weeks.
Prior to using, rinse the guanciale under cold running water to remove the cure, taking care to get all of the peppercorns.
Your guanciale is now ready to slice.
Extra guanciale can be saved in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in plastic, for 4 to 6 weeks.