Barny Haughton’s Bu­ca­tini all’ Ama­tri­ciana

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Food -

The sauce for this deeply de­li­cious and sim­ple dish has four ba­sic in­gre­di­ents: to­ma­toes, shal­lots, chilli and ba­con. But there are some rules about the in­gre­di­ents: You re­ally need to get the right ba­con; the deep flavour of a good Ama­tri­ciana comes from the ren­dered-down fat. The best ba­con cut is guan­ciale (pork cheek) but a good fatty un­smoked pancetta will do fine as well.

Bu­ca­tini (like thick spaghetti) is best for the pasta but ri­ga­toni or penne will also do well - but don’t use fresh pasta. And fi­nally: use pecorino not parme­san. The dif­fer­ence may not seem a big deal but what you get from pecorino (made from sheeps milk) is a sharp­ness which works bril­liantly with the rich Ama­tri­ciana sauce. Parme­san (made from cows milk) is sweeter and less de­fined in its flavour You are go­ing to make a pas­sata out of the to­ma­toes. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Mark 4. Place the to­ma­toes on a roast­ing tray, toss them in a lit­tle olive oil and salt and bake them for about 45 min­utes. Leave to cool for a few min­utes and then pass through a mouli or sieve, leav­ing be­hind only the dry skin and seeds. Note: if you have lots and lots of ripe to­ma­toes, say, five ki­los, you could do as above, then re­heat the pas­sata to sim­mer­ing and trans­fer to ster­ilised jars, screw the lids on tight and keep in a cool place for up to three months un­til needed.

Slice the guan­ciale into thick­ish rash­ers and then into lar­dons about 1cm wide. Put a splash of olive oil in the bot­tom of a deep solid bot­tomed sauté or fry­ing pan, bring to a medium heat and put the lar­don in the pan. Once they have started to fry, turn the heat down and con­tinue to fry gen­tly. As the fat ren­ders down, pour it off into a bowl. Con­tinue do­ing this un­til the lar­dons be­come crispy. Drain the re­main­ing fat off into the bowl, put the lar­dons to one side. In the same pan, fry the sliced shal­lots un­til they are soft but not brown. Add the chilli flakes, fry a lit­tle longer, then add the pas­sata, bay leaves and a few twists of black pep­per. Sim­mer gen­tly for 25 min­utes and keep warm.

Cook the pasta in the nor­mal way but make sure you cook it to just be­fore it’s al dente. This is be­cause you are go­ing to fin­ish it in the sauce for a fur­ther 30 sec­onds or so. Drain, toss in olive oil and put to one side.

Mean­while, add the ren­dered fat to the tomato sauce and have the crispy lar­dons ready in a warm place.

Now add the pasta and lar­dons to the sauce in the fry­ing pan, sim­mer for 30 sec­onds and serve im­me­di­ately with lots of grated pecorino.

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