Often served in Rome's trattorias, this dish takes its name from Amatrice, a town northeast of the capital. The classic preparation calls for making a sauce of tomatoes, onion and pancetta, and then pairing it with bucatini, a thick spaghetti-like noodle with a hole through the middle. Perciatelli is a very similar but slightly thinner noodle.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/3 lb. pancetta, diced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 lb. ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced, or 2 cups chopped canned plum tomatoes
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
1 lb. dried bucatini, perciatelli or spaghetti
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and pancetta, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta renders some of its fat, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, adjust the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, adding a little water if the sauce becomes too thick. Season with salt. Remove from the heat.
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), about 12 minutes or according to the package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, reheat the sauce gently over low heat.
Drain the pasta and return to the warm pot. Add the sauce and 1/4 cup of the pecorino cheese. Toss well. Divide among warmed dishes. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese, dividing it evenly. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Classic Pasta at Home, by Janet Fletcher (Time-Life Books, 1998).