Feeling pretty proud of myself. I made one of my favourite pastas of all time from scratch – fresh bucatini all’amatriciana.
My friend Karen had myself and a few food-obsessed friends over for a pasta-making party the other day which was pretty much the best day ever. Since I was working that morning at the hotel, I had come a bit later in the day and some pastas were already made and resting. The group had made some squid ink pasta (unsuccessful – too moist), fusilli (somewhat successful – didn’t end up curling fully), and agnolotti (super successful and super yum). Of course, I had to contribute and since they had a pasta extruder, I had to pick my favourite pasta in the world: bucatini.
Bucatini is a thick, hollowed-out, long-stranded noodle. It’s like spaghetti but thicker and features a little hole in it. This was only my second time making pasta from scratch which has sparked my interested in getting the pasta roller attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer – one day it’ll happen!
Making the pasta was fairly simple. Firstly, you’ll need “00” flour – this is an absolute must. 00 flour, commonly found in pastas and pizzas, is a soft flour that features low gluten, low protein and low starch, yielding a nice, chewy texture. Free range eggs for that deep orange yolk that will assist in colouring the dough. And lastly, just enough water to moisten the dough.
Making pasta dough from scratch is almost similar to making a pie dough, minus the butter and shortening. You’ll need to really work with your hands to feel if it needs more flour or more water so remember to add accordingly. When kneading the dough, you’ll want to knead it to a point where if you punch it, it springs back. Not so much as when you knead bread, but there should be some elasticity to it which is important when you are rolling it out later.
As for the sauce, amatriciana is a traditional Roman Italian pasta sauce featuring San Marzano tomatoes, garlic and guanciale, the fattier, cured and more delicious cousin of pancetta. Very fatty and extremely flavourful, any amatriciana or carbonara must use guanciale if you are looking for authenticity. Sorry – it simply cannot be substituted with bacon or pancetta. It will still be good…but guanciale is superior, ‘nuff said.
Chewy, perfectly al dente bucatini tossed in a simply tomato sauce studded with fatty guanciale. Can it get any better than this? I think not.
FRESH BUCATINI ALL’AMATRICIANA – serves 4 (adapted from Mario Batali’s all’amatriciana)
2 cups 00 tipo flour
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp – ¼ cup water, as needed
00 tipo flour, as needed
12 oz guanciale, sliced thinly and cut into 1” pieces
1 (786ml) can of San Marzano tomatoes, with basil
1 head of garlic, minced
1 ½ tbsp tamari
1 tbsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
parmeggiano reggiano, freshly grated
free range eggs, soft poached
Pour the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg yolks, one by one, and whisk with a fork until all of the egg yolks are incorporated. Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil and keep whisking with a fork until the dough begins to come together. Slowly add some water to the dough, 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough begins to form. At this point, you’ll want to use your hands, sprinkling water in as or if needed.
Once the dough forms, remove the dough from the bowl and transfer onto a clean surface. Like making pie crust, you’ll want to knead the dough out in a push and fold motion. If the dough is too moist, feel free to sprinkle in more flour as needed. The dough is ready when you punch it and it will spring back. Once this is achieved, wrap in plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for atleast 30 minutes.
After the dough has rested, you may place it into the pasta extruder. Push the dough through and crank the wheel until noodles start protruding. Once you’ve achieved your desired length, act quickly and cut with a sharp knife. Quickly separate the noodle strands (won’t work if you separate them slowly as the noodle will break) and hang on a pasta dryer. Continue this process until all of the dough is used. Best to do this with two people! Hang the pasta to dry for about 30 minutes.
When ready, prepare a pot of heavily salted water and cook the bucatini for 3 – 4 minutes or until al dente. Drain, rinse and set aside.
Prepare the guanciale by placing them in a dry pan in a single layer and cooking over low heat so the fat renders and the guanciale becomes crispy. The white fatty parts will become translucent and crisp up nicely, like pancetta. We wanted to preserve the crispness so we decided to serve this separately on top of our sauce.
For the sauce, add the can of San Marzano tomatoes into a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Add in the garlic and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add in the tamari to round out the flavour and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
To serve, place a desired amount of bucatini on your serving plate, top with amatriciana sauce, guanciale, freshly ground pepper, soft-poached egg and parmeggiano reggiano cheese.