The ability to pull off a meal in about 30 minutes is an enormous social asset—and it’s quite possible. This recipe is a pan pasta sauce for bucatini (hollow spaghetti) that doesn’t require endless simmering and can be turned out from a well-stocked pantry.
What to buy:
Look for the famed San Marzano tomatoes in Italian groceries. If you can’t find them, substitute regular canned whole tomatoes.
Bucatini pasta works great here because the hollow centers get filled with sauce. You can substitute spaghetti if you can’t find bucatini.
1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, coarsely chopped with juices reserved
2 small dried red chile peppers
1 pound dry bucatini or spaghetti
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When butter foams, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add pancetta and cook, stirring rarely, until slightly crisp, about 3 minutes more.
Add tomatoes and their juices and a generous pinch of salt. Crumble in chile peppers, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered until sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook bucatini according to the package directions. Reserve about 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, drain pasta but do not rinse, add to the frying pan, and toss to coat in sauce. Add reserved pasta water if needed to thin the sauce.
Transfer to serving plates, sprinkle with Pecorino Romano, and serve immediately.
Beverage pairing: A high-acid varietal like Barbera would definitely pair well with this dish. Although Barbera can be vinified in various ways, look for one that has little or no oak influence, as this could prove problematic with the heat from the pepper flakes. Simple, juicy, pure fruit is best. Try the 2003 Agostino Pavia Barbera d’Asti Bricco Blina.