This popular dish is a Roman take on the original which comes from the village of Amatrice (sometimes misspelt Amatricia) in Lazio, to the north of Rome. The original version, which you will still get if you order the dish in Amatrice, is the same but with a little more oil and without the tomatoes. It is traditionally served with bucatini - long pasta, like a thick, hollow sort of spaghetti - but it's also very good with other types of pasta including penne. If you do use a short pasta such as penne, use a little more - perhaps 120g rather than 100g per person. Although it's essentially the same stuff, for some mysterious reason short pasta is slightly less filling than long pasta.
If you burn the tomato sauce, transfer it to a new pan (leaving the burnt part in the old pan). Don't just stir it altogether - this will only mix in the bitter, burnt part, and ruin the entire sauce.
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 100g pasta (per person)
- a handful of diced pancetta
- a small red onion, chopped
- 300g of passata or peeled, chopped tomatoes.
Take a small saucepan, put some oil in the bottom and add the onion and the pancetta. Cook for a few minutes until the pancetta has started to cook, and then add the tomatoes. Cook for about five to ten minutes, being careful not to burn it. Then put the water on to boil for the pasta.
The sauce should cook for at least twenty minutes altogether, giving it time to reduce and thicken, and for the tomatoes to lose their acidic taste and become sweeter. If the sauce still seems too acid, you can always add a pinch of sugar to the pan.
When the pasta has cooked, mix it into the sauce and serve with black pepper and grated pecorino (or, if you don't have pecorino, use grated parmesan).