Serves 4 as a main course, 6-8 as a starter
- 1 pound bucatini (a thick, dry spaghetti can be substituted)
- ½ pound of guanciale sliced into long, thin strips (make matchsticks)
- 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced ¼-inch thick
- 1½ teaspoons of red pepper flakes
- 1 large can of whole San Marzano tomatoes (crushed by hand)
- ½ cup of torn basil leaves plus a handful julienned and reserved for garnish
- ½ cup of grated Pecorino Romano plus ¼ cup for sprinkling
- salt and sugar, to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- Put a large pot of water on to boil.
- In a large saucepan with a thin coat of olive oil, render the guanciale over low heat, turning the cheeks occasionally until the fat has nearly dissolved and the meat slightly crisps.
- Add the onions and red pepper flakes to the pan and soften over medium heat until the onions are translucent.
- Raise the heat to medium-high and add the tomatoes. Season them with salt and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer while the pasta cooks.
- Salt the boiling water aggressively and add the bucatini. Stir until the boil returns and stir occasionally until two minutes short of package-instructed cooking time.
- Transfer the noodles to the saucepan. Raise the heat and coat the noodles with sauce, simmer until al dente (two minutes more).
- Off the heat, add ½ cup of Pecorino and toss.
- Plate the pasta and give each a swirl of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of the remaining cheese, and top with the julienned basil. Enjoy with a simple red wine of central Italy, and say arrivederci to pancetta.