BEEF SATAY SKEWERS with Cheaters' Peanut Sauce


Quick and easy!  Perfectly al dente bucatini cloaked in a timeless tomato sauce, dishing up a little kick of heat, and simple medley of classic flavours.  Mangia tutti!

One of my fave weekly errands is to hit Valoroso, one of the Okanagan's best Italian deli-grocery stores, to gather all the right ingredients to concoct some particular Tuscan, Roman, Calabrian, or other regional Italian dish, that has been stoking up my cravings.

And not only cravings to devour, but cravings to cook, make or bake. 

I think that's one of the most fun things about food from the various regions of Italy, the making of.  Granted, we often cannot get completely traditional making these types of classic dishes, as the perfect ingredients are not easily available. But we can get close enough to close our eyes, savour and imagine how seductive the real deal would be. 

That's just what I did with Bucatini all'Amatriciana.  I think this is a pretty darn good variation of the traditional.  Good enough to keep it near of the top of my must-have list, for my next Italian escape.  (Says she, as a big, big, warm, daydreamy, soft smile spreads across her face.)

Amatriciana sauce is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (cured pork cheek), pecorino cheese, tomato and in some variations, onion.   Originating from the town of Amatrice (in the mountainous Province of Riete of Lazio region), the Amatriciana is one of the best known pasta sauces in Roman and Italian cuisine.  The Italian government has named it a traditional agro-alimentary product of Lazio.  Cool!

I couldn't get my hot little hands on guanciale, but in researching found that pancetta is a most suitable substitution.

I changed a few things, but mostly followed the recipe posted by Daniel Gritzer on Serious Eats.  Daniel states: "Debate rages over the correct way to make a classic Roman amatriciana sauce of cured pork and tomatoes.  We tested all the variables to come up with this ideal version, which packs a delicate heat, gentle black pepper spice, sharp Pecorino Romano cheese, and the intriguing interplay of sweet-tart tomato sauce and rich, fatty cured pork."

To that I say, 'Grazie!'.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces guanciale, or pancetta, cut into slices about 1/4-inch thick, then small diced
2 good pinches dried red pepper flakes
1/3 cup dry white wine
1, 15-20 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Italian dried bucatini pasta
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add guanciale or pancetta and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.  Add red pepper flakes.  Stir and cook another minute.  Add wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pan, until nearly evaporated, about 2-3 minutes.

Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Season with salt, and generously with pepper.

Meanwhile, boil pasta in salted water until just shy of al dente, about 1 minute less than package recommends.  Using tongs, transfer pasta to sauce, along with 1/4 cup pasta cooking water.  Cook over high heat, stirring and tossing rapidly, until pasta is al dente and sauce has thickened and begins to coat noodles.  Remove from heat, add cheese and toss quickly to incorporate.  Season to taste with more salt and pepper.  Serve right away, passing more cheese at the table. Mmm....

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *