Weekend Cooking: Chef Anne Burrell’s Bucatini all’Amatriciana
When it’s time for a family party, I’m usually assigned the role of “soda girl”, a task requiring little more than making my way through the aisles of the grocery store, loading a cart with assorted 2-liter bottles. Honestly, this is for the best, as even my most casual acquaintances know that cooking is not my forte.
Compounding my culinary shortcomings is the fact I’m one of eight cousins–all female–and they are all gifted and talented in the kitchen, garden, athletic field, and/or craft room. I…am good at reading.
My cousin J, my junior by a mere 88 days, is a domestic virtuoso. This girl makes Marta Stewart look like a slouch. From what I can tell, J thrives on about twelve seconds of sleep a night, and is able to effectively parent her three adorable (and very active!) kids, plant and harvest a garden, can her own sauces, vegetables, compotes, and jellies, bake cookies and breads, whip up elaborate dinners, and act as class mom, all while wearing fashionable 4-inch heels.
A few months ago, J gifted me with a copy of her favorite Food Network chef’s new cookbook. Anne Burrell, famous for her shock of bleach blonde hair and love of bacon, recently published Cook Like a Rock Star, a collection of recipes that even the most daft cook (read: me) could manage.
J loves Anne because her recipes aren’t complex and (typically) require food that she has in her pantry. Flipping through the book, I was struck by the gorgeous staging and photos, but it was Anne’s humorous asides in the ingredient lists and instructions that kept me turning pages.
When I originally planned this post, I had set my heart on a fried zucchini appetizer. My fear of frying is almost as dire as my fear of being trapped in a car without an audio book, but I set to work making the fritters. Unfortunately, there was a small ‘grease splatter incident’–only a few flames–and I’ve been assured my arm hairs will grow back and the scarring will be minimal.
Undaunted, I shifted gears and began preparing the dinner I’d planned, also from Anne’s cookbook. The photo of the Bucatini all’Amatriciana had me drooling before I even read the recipe. When I finally took a gander at the ingredient list, a single word leapt off the page at me: GUANCIALE.
Now friends, I may be a third-generation Italian-American, but have spent enough time in language classes at Parliamo Italiano to recognize the word PIG JOWLS when I see it. Can we say deal breaker? I was prepared to dismiss this recipe until noticing that pancetta (pork belly) could be subbed for pig’s cheeks. Ant and I don’t really dig on any swine aside from bacon, but even we could handle bacon’s Italian cousin, pancetta. Game on, Chef Anne!
The recipe came together quite easily and it really was delicious. The sauce is so flavorful with a hint of heat and the crispy pancetta crumbled on the top was an added treat! I already have plans to make this pasta again soon, and if I can make it, surely you can, too!
Chef Anne Burrell’s Bucatini all’Amatriciana (my notes in red)
Serves 4 to 6; Time: 1 1/2 hours
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 8 oz. guanciale (or pancetta) cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 4 onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice (I only used 1 medium onion)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Kosher salt (I used Kosher salt but accidentally photographed Sea Salt)
- 2 28-oz cans San Marzano tomatoes, passed through a food mill (or squished in my clean hands)
- 1 pound bucatini or perciatelli (I used perciatelli–it’s a similar thick spaghetti with a hole in the center)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano, plus extra for garnish
- Big fat finishing oil (I had no idea what this was and omitted it)
Thanks so much to Candace over at Beth Fish Reads for hosting Weekend Cooking! Many thanks and much love to my ‘younger’ cousin J for the great cookbook.