While living in Rome, I used to go to this little family owned restaurant near my friend’s apartment at the Policlinico stop on the blue line. Money was tight, so we ate a lot of pasta. One of my favorite meals was Sugo all’amatriciana. They usually served it with beautifully al dente spaghetti or bucatini. I thought it was time to bring this dish back to the states.
My family and I visited Jungle Jim’s International market and were able to find the number 1 ingredient for Amatriciana… Guanciale (aka pork cheek). To read more about the Jungle Jim’s adventure, click here Jungle Jim’s Post
Our “Mangia Memoir” (what we’ll remember)
I know why my dad took us to Jungle Jims. It’s because he knew I’d loooove it. And then we’d get to come home and cook together. In the kitchen where I grew up. At the dining room table where we’ve had so many meals. Nostalgia. Food brings people together. And in my family, cooking brings you even closer. My dad and I busted each others chops all night. “You are doing it wrong”. “Move over, you’re hogging the counter”. “When’s the pasta gonna be done?!” “What are we gonna make Jaclyn?” (Jaclyn is my brother Nick’s lady friend that is a vegetarian. I guess pork jowl would be considered meat.) But, busting’ chops in my family is a sign of love. I cherish these moments.
- ¾ pound guanciale sliced thin and in pieces.
- If you can’t find guanciale, you can use pancetta
- 4 garlic cloves sliced super thin.
- I like it garlicky, so you can add/subtract to your taste
- I sliced the garlic with a razor blade. Yes, alla Goodfellas.
- 1 red onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick.
- Some recipes say to do it 1/2 thick, but I prefer thinner.
- 1 ½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes.
- Obviously add/subtract based on how hot you and your guests like it.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups chunky tomato sauce
- 1 pound Tagliatelle or whatever long pasta you prefer
- 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
- Pecorino Romano, for grating
- Start a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
- After cutting the guanciale into small pieces, put into a skillet (no extra oil) and begin to sautee. Cook until it loses about half of it’s fat. Do not overcook it, because it will turn into crispy pork bits. Delicious, but not what we are looking for.
- Remove guanciale from skillet and place onto plate with paper towels. Pour almost all of the fat out of the pan. Reserve enough to sautee garlic and onions.
- Add in onion and sautee until translucent. They should not have a “bite” or “crunch” to them.
- Throw in thinly sliced garlic. It will basically melt away into the pan. Thanks Paulie from Goodfellas.
- Toss in the tomato sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add in the reserved guanciale and parsley and simmer for 5-8 minutes.
- Add in cooked Tagliatelle pasta and let it set in the sauce for a few moments to soak up the flavor
- Place into serving dish and grate cheese over top
- 4 stars
- Would You Eat It Again? Yes, for sure, but will most likely have to use pancetta instead of guanciale, since I probably won’t be able to find it in Miami, unless Laurenzo’s Italian Market has it.
- What Would You Change? I committed a terrible offense and overcooked the pasta. Was trying to do too many things at once. Also, I left the guanciale in the skillet for too long and ended up with those pork bits I mentioned we don’t want. So next time, I’d be sure to remedy these things.