Rigatoni all’ Amatriciana

This pasta dish is a classic of Roman cuisine and is generally made with bucatini pasta however I am a fan of rigatoni, so when I saw this recipe I was sucked in. The original recipe was inspired by Mario Batali in an electronic version of Food and Wine magazine. I love the simplicity of the recipe but was disappointed that he listed thick cut bacon versus pancetta. I on the other hand being a fan of pork belly decided to give this recipe a try using my favorite part of the pig. Pork belly is becoming increasingly popular and the very first time I was introduce to pork belly it was featured as an appetizer in an Italian restaurant. It was love at first bite however, I had difficulty finding that cut until I moved back to South Jersey. While shopping in Whole Foods I was strolling past the fresh meat counter and there it was! I had just watched Gabriele Corcos prepare pork belly on the show, Extra Virgin.  It is very easy to prepare and once cooked very versatile. I use it in this recipe and for my Hop’t up BLT. More on that recipe later. If you love pasta as much as I do you will love this recipe and it works well with gluten-free pasta.

The pork belly will need to be cooked before and cooled but you will have enough left over, if it lasts because it is delicious warm and fresh out of the oven. If it is not devoured it makes great crispy bacon bits or thick sliced bacon without the smoke and salt.

1 pound pork belly with the fat side scored and place in a roasting pan (scored side up) Generously salt and pepper the pork . Preheat oven to 325; Cooking will take about 3 hours total.

Make a paste with 3 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon each of rosemary, thyme fresh is best but I have used dry and about 2 tablespoons of EVOO. Rub the top of the pork with this mixture and add about 1/2 bottle of beer to the pan. Drink the rest of the beer! You can substitute with chicken stock. Place the pork in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes then cover with foil. Cook for 2 hours covered, uncover and increase heat to 375 and cook 30 minutes more or until top is brown and very crispy. Remove from heat and cool. This can be made a day ahead and keeps well in the fridge, if it last that long.

Start a large pot of water for cooking the pasta. Remember to salt the water generously before adding the pasta. cook until al dente. I used 1 pound of rigatoni

1/4 cup of EVOO

1 cup dice pork belly

1 medium onion slice thin (red or white what ever you have)

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper  (depends on your level of spice)

1 28 ounce can of dice tomatoes  (you can use peeled plum tomatoes just break them up)

1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese (reserve some for garnish)

In a large saute pan heat the EVOO. Add the dice pork belly and onion cooking until the pork belly begins to get crispy and brown about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and crushed red pepper and cook about 1 minute more. Stir in the diced tomatoes and bring the sauce to a simmer.

When the pasta is al dente drain and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and remove from the heat. Toss the pasta with the sauce adding pasta water if needed. Add the cheese and taste for seasoning adding salt and pepper if needed. Garnish the top with remaining cheese and serve. Enjoy with a nice red wine like Pinot Noir from Cape May Winery. Bono Apetito!

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Cherry Hill, NJ

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