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Amatriciana For A Crowd

AMATRICIANA FOR A CROWD (from BIG NIGHT, out June 4, 2024)

Serves 8 to 10 as a main

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 12 ounces guanciale (or pancetta, in a pinch), chopped into 1⁄4-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 2 small red onions, or 2 to 3 shallots, diced
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1⁄4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • Kosher salt
  • 11⁄2 pounds short tubular pasta, such as rigatoni or lumache
  • 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


NOTE: You can use pancetta here, but I strongly recommend guanciale for its intensely smoky, pork-y flavor and thicker texture, which stands out against the glossy sauce.

 

Amatriciana is one of the core four Roman pastas—and it’s the one that has a piece of my heart. It’s a perfect sauce, and unlike carbonara or cacio e pepe, it scales up beautifully to feed a crowd. On that note: We’re using short, tubular pasta here—rather than the traditional bucatini noodle, which I do love but is nearly impossible to cook evenly at scale. (Nothing is worse than a noodle that’s half overcooked and half crunchy in the middle.) Go for rigatoni or something similar and stir it continuously as it cooks.

 

Heat the oil in a large, ideally high-sided pot over medium-low heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the guanciale and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally and letting the meat brown slowly, until much of the fat has rendered and the guanciale is very crispy, 15 to 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the guanciale to a plate or small bowl.


Add the onions and red pepper flakes to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until very fragrant and starting to take on a bit of color, about 90 seconds. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium, and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let sizzle until nearly all the wine has reduced, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring the sauce to an active simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 25 to 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt and black pepper as needed.


Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat, then add 1⁄4 cup salt. Stir in the pasta. Cook, stirring frequently to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot, for 3 minutes fewer than what the box says for al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and transfer it to the pot with the sauce.


Increase the heat to medium-high, add the cheese, and cook, tossing constantly and adding splashes of the pasta cooking water as needed to ensure every noodle is coated in the loose, glossy, not-sticky, thick sauce, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the reserved guanciale and toss to combine. Serve each bowl of pasta with black pepper, a drizzle of good olive oil, and a heavy sprinkle of cheese.

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