Amatriciana Sauce

The food blogs seemed to have a real Amatriciana moment just over a year ago. I think it happened when the home charcuterie trend hit its zenith. The “authentic” preparation (according to the internet, where everything is true) calls for guanciale, cured pig’s jowl/cheek. That would be great if I could get it, but I can’t, so bacon is my fallback.

4 slices bacon, chopped (about 75 g)
3 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T tomato paste
1/4 c white wine
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid (use the best tomatoes you can get – the texture will benefit)
1 t oregano
1/2 t thyme
1/4 t salt
1/2 t sugar or honey
1/2 t ground pepper
10-12 fresh basil leaves, torn

Heat a medium saucepan to medium high. Add bacon to saucepan, stirring frequently, until edges of bacon crisp. Lower heat to medium low and drain all but one tablespoon of bacon grease (or drain bacon grease and add one T olive oil). Add shallots and garlic and sauté until tender and translucent. Stir in tomato paste and cook for one minute, then add wine. Stir in and cook until half reduced.

Add tomatoes and liquid, breaking them up with your spoon. Once you’ve got the tomatoes at the desired texture, add the oregano, thyme, salt, sugar/honey and pepper. Stir well and bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes. Add torn basil leaves and cook until wilted. Toss half the sauce with pasta (whatever type you like, but we prefer it with thick pasta), then top with another spoonful of sauce and grated parmesan.