Bucatini with Caramelized Onions and Pancetta

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 65 minutes
Servings: 4

Sweet caramelized onions and salty pancetta combine to make a simple but sublime sauce in this easy weeknight pasta dish.


  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) dice
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lb. (1.25 kg) red or yellow onions, or a mix of both, halved and very thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh oregano
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. (500 g) dried bucatini or perciatelli
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving


In a large fry pan over medium-low heat, sauté the pancetta until lightly crisped and a little of the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Set aside.

Add the olive oil and onions to the pan. Using tongs or a wooden spoon, gently toss the onions to coat them with the fat. Cover the pan and cook, still over medium-low heat, until the onions are thoroughly wilted, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the oregano, 1 tsp. salt and a generous grinding of pepper and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, creamy and greatly reduced in volume, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir and cook until al dente, about 11 minutes or according to the package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the cooking water.

Raise the heat under the onions to medium-high, pour in the wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Let it bubble for a minute, then add the reserved pancetta. Transfer the pasta to the pan and toss gently to combine. Add a splash or two of the pasta-cooking water to loosen the sauce, if needed. Sprinkle in the cheese and toss again. Divide among 4 shallow bowls and serve immediately, passing additional cheese at the table. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011)

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