Welcome to Don’t Shoot the Food, a semi-regular series where I combine my love of gaming with my love of cooking and eating.
This week, we look to 16th century Rome and whip up a pasta dish sure to please a legion of hungry assassins, just back from stabbing dudes the world over, as Don’t Shoot the Food takes on Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Hit the Read More link to be stabbed in the face with flavor!
Ah Rome, the sights, the sounds, the assassins! Along with being the seat of Italian power for centuries, Rome has been home to some kick-ass chefs throughout the years, with some of the greatest chefs of the Renaissance perfecting recipes and cooking techniques while under the employ of the Papacy. It also happens to be the setting of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, the second AC game featuring our favorite Italian assassin, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. After a long day of running across rooftops, Ezio would have wanted a dish high in carbs, but also easy and fast to prepare should his brotherhood of trained killers need to be deployed on short notice. With that in mind, I present Bucatini all’Amatriciana.
Bucatini all’Amatriciana is a pasta dish made from tomatoes, guanciale, pasta and not much else. Its flavor profile can be altered easily, it takes very little time to prepare and best of all, its ingredients can be easily substituted. Just the thing for beginner chefs or those with a well stocked pantry looking to whip up something for their own legions of hungry assassins.
1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
2. 1 lb dried bucatoni – bucatoni is like spaghetti only it’s hollow in the inside, allowing the sauce to get in there and infuse the pasta with even more flavor. If you can’t find bucatoni, use spaghetti and just now that you’re missing out and your guests will silently resent you for it.
3. 4 oz guanciale – guanciale is unsmoked bacon, made from a hog’s cheek. If you can’t find guanciale then feel free to use either regular unsmoked bacon or, if you don’t mind going a little off of the reservation, pancetta. If you’re vegetarian, I’d say skip the bacon altogether rather than try and substitute with the fake stuff as that has an added smoke flavor that will screw up the dish
4. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
5. 1 – 3 garlic cloves, siced – different variations of this recipe call for differing amounts of garlic. I say go with what you like and make your own variation. I’m crazy like that.
6. 1 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes, coarsely chopped with the juices reserved – You can also go with a pound of cherry tomatoes here and chop them up for the sauce however I like to use the canned tomatoes because a) they’re always in season and b) the juices in the can will cook down into a nice sauce. It’s your dish though, so go crazy, just try and keep as much of the juice from chopping the cherry tomatoes as you can.
7. 1/2 tsp red chili flakes – again, you can up this or lower this based on your own flavor preferences. Some variations of this dish call for dried peperoncinos which would be more in line with the geographic source of the recipe, but red chili flakes are easier to come by.
8. Grated Parmesan cheese for serving
1. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until transparent, 3 – 5 minutes.
2. Add the guanciale to the skillet and saute until brown and slightly crisp. Keep an eye on the bacon as it’s easy to lose track and cook it until it’s too crisp. You don’t want cinders, just enough browning to give a pleasant mouth feel.
3. Add the tomatoes and their juices, breaking up any large bits of tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
4. Add the chili pepper flakes, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low, keeping the sauce on a simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to the desired thickness. Remove from heat once thickened sufficiently
5. While the sauce simmers, cook the bucatoni according to package directions. It should take about 9 minutes and you want the pasta done right about when the sauce is done, so plan accordingly.
6. Once the pasta is done, reserve about a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta but don’t rinse it.
7. Add the pasta to the sauce in the skillet, tossing the pasta in the sauce so that the sauce gets all over the pasta. Use the reserved pasta water if need be to thin the sauce and ensure an even coating.
8. Serve immediately with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes at the table.
Serves about 4 – 6 hungry assassino.
I know nothing about wine, but from what I’m reading, pair this dish with a nice Barbera, whatever that is. Or, be like me and have a frosty glass of milk and a fish oil vitamin. Oy, I’m old.
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