Recipe of the week: Amatriciana: A salty twist on a classic
“Starch is comfort,” said Regina Schrambling in the Los Angeles Times.“Cheese is seduction.” When they’re combined, the result is pure pleasure. A slow-cooked tomato sauce heightens the flavor of both of these ingredients to perfection. Italian tradition often calls for well-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano and/or pecorino Romano as the cheese. But a delightful twist is to substitute Ricotta Salata. It’s a salty cheese witha noticeable tang, and an amatriciana sauce stands up to it especially well.Serve with a pasta with hollow strands, such as bucatini or perciatelli.
Recipe of the weekBucatini AmatricianaWith Ricotta Salata
Note: Ricotta Salata is available at cheese shops and specialty stores, and at select Whole Foods markets.
2 oz pancetta, in one piece1 tbsp best-quality olive oil1 small red onion, peeled, quartered, thinly sliced1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes, or to taste1 (14-oz) can whole Italian tomatoes in puréeKosher or sea salt1/2 lb bucatini or perciatelli2 tsp unsalted butter1/2 cup finely crumbled Ricotta Salata
Cut the pancetta into 1/4-inch dice. Heat 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 tbsp of the fatfrom 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 purée. Cook, stirring to crush the tomatoes into the finest bits, for 5 minutes. Simmer 40 minutes, stirringoccasionally.
While the sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil with salt (about 1 tbsp for every 2 quarts—it should taste salty). Fifteen minutes before the sauce is done, add the pasta to the water. Stir and then cookuntil it is just al dente, 11 to 12 minutes or according to the package directions.
Reserving 1/2 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. Serves 4 to 6.