In Rome’s beloved version of pasta all’amatriciana, the crushed tomatoes and their juices are simmered in lard or the rendered fat of guanciale, a cured pork jowl that also garnishes the dish. In this creatively bastardized version the rendered fat is cut back, the onions are deeply caramelized, and the sauce cooked slowly for richness and depth of flavor. Along with spaghetti and bucatini, mezze maniche rigate, a ridged tube akin to a half rigatoni, is traditional with amatriciana in Rome, but fusilli, which Bottura uses as an alternative, is great for lapping up the sauce. Stir the sauce often while it cooks to prevent sticking and scorching.
- 8 oz. guanciale (Italian cured pork jowl), finely diced (1 packed cup)
- 1 cup cup minced yellow onion
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, such as Villa Manodori Artigianale brand, plus more for drizzling
- 8 canned San Marzano tomatoes, nely chopped (juices reserved), plus 13⁄4 cups more tomato sauce from the cans (about 2 lb. 8 oz. total)
- 1 lb. dried mezze maniche rigate pasta
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. finely grated Pecorino Romano
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large, high-sided skillet over medium-low heat, add the guanciale; cook, stirring occasionally, until much of the fat has rendered and the meat is crispy, 15–18 minutes. Remove to a strainer set over a bowl; reserve the meat and fat separately.
- Add half the fat back to the pan over medium- low heat. Stir in the onion and let cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly caramelized, about 35 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the onion mixture. Bring to a low simmer and cook, being sure to stir frequently, until thickened and reduced slightly, about 30 minutes. Add three-quarters of the guanciale to the sauce; keep the rest for garnishing.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt generously. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 6–8 minutes.
- Using a large spider or small strainer, remove the pasta to a large bowl. Add enough sauce to coat the pasta to your liking; stir while adding all but 1 tablespoon each of the cheeses. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Divide the pasta and sauce between four plates or transfer to a platter, and sprinkle with the left- over crispy guanciale. Drizzle lightly with more balsamic if desired. Garnish with the remaining cheeses and black pepper to taste.