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No-Recipe Amatriciana

PREP TIME
30 mins
RATE THIS RECIPE
(19)
PREP TIME
30 mins
RATE THIS RECIPE
(19)

Ingredients

  • slab bacon, chopped (at least one slice per person)
  • olive oil
  • onion, chopped (half onion per person)
  • spaghetti
  • canned chopped tomatoes
  • butter
  • pecorino, grated
  • parsley, chopped
  • red pepper flakes

Chef notes

This "Amatriciana on the Fly" is a terrific dish to cook after work when you don’t really want to think very much about what you’re cooking. It’s fast and flavorful and you can make it as cheesy, salty, spicy or buttery as you like. This is a "no-recipe recipe" — a recipe without specific measurements and must-follow steps, inviting you to improvise in the kitchen.

Technique tip: Don’t neglect that butter in the pasta at the end. It emulsifies in the sauce, making it silky and even richer and more delicious.

Swap option: I’m using bacon here, but the dish is traditionally made with guanciale, cured pork jowl. Use that if you like, or a dry spiced sausage. I’ve made it with spicy salami. If you don’t eat meat, add a couple of tablespoons of butter in its place.

Preparation

1.

Set a large pot of salted water on the stove, over high heat.

2.

In a pan, sauté chopped bacon — slab bacon, if you can get it — in a glug or two of olive oil until it’s crisp.

3.

Remove the bacon and add chopped onion to the fat, cooking until it’s soft and fragrant. Figure the equivalent of a slice of bacon and half an onion per person.

4.

Meanwhile, boil water for enough pasta to feed your crowd, and cook it until it is just shy of tender.

5.

While it cooks, add some canned chopped tomatoes and the cooked bacon to the onions, and stir it to make a sauce.

6.

Drain the pasta, then toss it with a knob of butter, and add the pasta to the sauce.

7.

Slide all that into a warm serving bowl, then top with grated pecorino. A scattering of chopped parsley is never going to be a bad idea here, but you can omit it if the clock’s ticking.

8.

Serve with red pepper flakes and extra cheese on the side.

"Amatriciana on the Fly" reprinted with permission from The New York Times.