If you've never tried guanciale, you should check it out. It's like bacon, only better. Made from the jowl of the pig, guanciale is the best part of the animal once it's cured.
Guanciale is the central umame flavor in Pasta Amatriciana, a rustic pasta dish from Italy. It's simple to make and, thanks to the guanciale, it's incredibly delicious.
If you use the concept of prepping and cooking at the same time, this simple dish is very quick to make.
Pasta Amatriciana Recipe
Prep/Cook time: 30 minutes
Set your water to boil for the pasta and, at the same time, put a large pan on the stove to heat up on medium heat. Toss in the pan:
some lardons of guanciale
While all that is heating up, cut up some:
Toss those in the pan with the guanciale that's rendering. Cut into chunks:
1 pound fresh or frozen tomatoes
By this time the water should be at a boil. When this is indeed the case, start cooking:
8 oz. pasta
Add the tomatoes to the pan with the shallots. Add:
salt to taste
Boil down the tomatoes to thicken the sauce. In the meantime, grate:
parmigiano reggiano to taste
When the pasta is al dente, scoop out some of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain and rinse the pasta. If the sauce needs some extra moisture, add some of the pasta water you reserved and stir in.
Turn the heat off under your pan. Add the pasta to the sauce. Stir it all together to incorporate. If more liquid is needed, add some of that pasta water you reserved. Add most of the parmesan cheese you grated and stir that in, too. Plate your pasta and serve hot.
For some tips on how to cook an asparagus side for this recipe, visit Just Another Shallot and Asparagus Blog for the recipe!
After you've plated your pasta, turn the heat back on to medium high in the large pan with the sauce. Cut off the ends and toss into the pan:
1/4 pound asparagus
Sautee the asparagus for 2-3 minutes, coating the stalks with any extra sauce from the pan. When the asparagus starts to get tender, turn off the heat and serve the asparagus onto the plates with the pasta.