How to make Paccheri all’Amatriciana


2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 ounces meaty guanciale or pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
1 dried red chili, crushed or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large bay leaf
1 cup white wine or chicken stock
1 large 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1 pound paccheri or rigatoni
Pecorino cheese, to serve

Heat a saucepot or Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat with Olive Oil, 2 turns of the pan. Add guanciale or pancetta and stir 2 minutes to render—do not brown fully. Add onions, garlic, chili and bay, and partially cover. Cook to soften onions being careful to not brown them, about 12 minutes. Add wine or stock and reduce heat. Simmer partially covered a few minutes until onions are opaque then add tomatoes, crushing them with a spoon. Simmer 15 minutes more to thicken then remove bay.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Season the water liberally with salt and cook the pasta to 1 minute shy of al dente per package directions. Reserve about 3/4 cup starchy water then drain pasta.

Toss pasta with sauce and starchy water for a minute to combine. Top pasta with pecorino and serve.