Pick-a-Pepper Pasta (Bucatini with Hot and Sweet and Pickled Peppers Sauce)
- 2 tablespoons EVOO
- 4 ounces guanciale, speck, pancetta or bacon, 1/4-inch dice
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
- 2 medium or 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 Fresno pepper, seeded and chopped
- About 3 tablespoons hot pickled Italian cherry peppers, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons of their pickle juice
- One 28- to 32-ounce can D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 cups passata or tomato puree or tomato sauce
- A few fresh leaves basil, torn
- A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound bucatini pasta (hollow spaghetti)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Pecorino cheese, to pass at table
Heat a deep skillet or Dutch oven with the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the guanciale and brown until lightly crisp. Add the garlic, bell pepper, cubanelles, onions and fresno peppers, and cook until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the pickled peppers and a big splash of their juice, about 2 tablespoons, and deglaze the pan - hold your head back or you'll really clean out your sinuses. Add the tomatoes and crush up a bit, then stir in the passata and basil. Simmer to thicken 30 minutes or so. Add the parsley, season with salt and pepper. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal. Reheat over medium flame.
To serve: While the sauce heats, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve a ladle of the starchy cooking water and drain. Toss the pasta with the butter and half the sauce. Add a little starchy water if too thick. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls, topped with the remaining sauce and pecorino cheese.
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