Completely inspired by watching the classic romantic comedy, Moonstruck, I couldn’t resist preparing this traditional Italian pasta dish. Consider this post a dinner and movie special!
For those of you not familiar with Moonstruck, it’s one of the funniest films depicting love and relationships between a few stereotypical Italian characters and their families living in Brooklyn, New York. It is outlandish, touching, and will have you rolling with laughter. Among the talented cast are Cher, Nicolas Cage (one of my favorite actors), Olympia Dukakis and Danny Aiello. Oh yes, and the most important thing…much of the movie centers around food!
The deluxe edition of my DVD included a special feature called “Pasta to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food.” Actor and foodie, Mark DeCarlo, hit some hot spots in Little Italy that made my stomach growl! One restaurant in particular that caught my attention was Grotta Azzurra. Mark brought viewers into their kitchen so that the executive chef could show the preparation of a few popular Italian dishes, one of them being Bucatini Amatriciana. I had never heard of bucatini and quickly looked it up. It’s also known as perciatelli, which I’ve actually used before when making turkey meatballs. Basically, it’s a thick spaghetti with a hole in the center. For my recipe here, I decided to use thin spaghetti. I’m almost positive you could use any type of pasta with this dish as long as the key ingredient, the Amatriciana sauce, bathes it really well!
This dinner is fairly simple to prepare since eventually it all comes together in one pan. I will say, however, that it’s not as easy to take photos and cook simultaneously. There were a few instances as I was frying the pancetta and crushing the canned tomatoes when a couple of splatters attacked my camera lens! Nothing that some quick wipes with a paper towel couldn’t fix though, whew!
While some traditional Amatriciana recipes may be spicy, I don’t like too much heat. However, you should feel free to play around with the amount of crushed red pepper and ground black pepper in this recipe to suit your own taste buds.
Other than a few slices of fresh bread, all you really need to complete this dish is some great company and conversation! Buon appetito!
4 oz. chopped or diced pancetta
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 28-oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
16 oz. box thin spaghetti
1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven, large saucepan or heavy skillet and add pancetta. Cook on medium-high heat for about 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the meat is nicely browned and crispy. The pancetta’s natural grease will accumulate in the pan as you fry it. You don’t want that to saturate the dish, so carefully use some clean paper towels and a wooden spoon to soak up some of the excess oil as necessary.
2. Stir in chopped onion, garlic, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes or until onions are soft.
3. Add in can of whole peeled plum tomatoes, crushing each tomato either by hand or spoon. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. While sauce is slowly thickening, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Break dried spaghetti in half and cook in boiling water until al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside.
5. Slowly add pasta to sauce, tossing well. Pour in chicken broth and continue cooking on low for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until pasta is completely coated in sauce.
6. Mix in Pecorino Romano cheese just before serving.