Bucatini with Tomato, Bacon and Onion Sauce

November 5, 2011 § 4 Comments

Bucatini with Tomato, Bacon and Onion Sauce

This year’s issue of Cook’s Illustrated, Italian Favorites is  absolutely amazing. I seriously want to make every dish in there and might want to move onto their previous issues of Italian Favorites when I am done. In typical Cook’s-Illustrated-fashion, classic recipes are trialed to find and record the best way to create these dishes in your home kitchen, with plenty of tips on technique and picking ingredients. I was drawn to this bucatini, from that issue, because of the simplicity. I was sure it would be delicious but I was intrigued by what made it so special.


What I like about this dish is that it is easily “greater than the sum of it’s parts”, as much of a cliche as that is. It lacks the ingredients that we typically consider vital to a tomato sauce: garlic, fresh basil, dried oregano, wine, etc. This isn’t to say that the addition of certain ingredients wouldn’t be at home, but each component, however brings exactly the right amount of flavor and texture. There is more onion here than a typical tomato sauce, which is why the ingredient is actually mentioned in the title, and it doesn’t fully break down because of the quick cooking time. Because of these factors it should be minced as fine as possible, but it gives the sauce a tiny bit of freshness that canned tomatoes otherwise lack. The bacon retains its crunch by being removed from the pan before adding the tomatoes and added back in at the last minute of cooking (for this reason, the dish doesn’t make the best leftovers, but it is super quick and easy so you can definitely scale it down to the number of servings you need).

Bucatini with Tomato, Bacon and Onion Sauce

Speaking of servings, the original recipe was supposed to serve four so I cut the recipe in half and did one half  one night and the other half a few days later. I think we must have been really hungry the first night because we ate the whole pot of pasta, however the second pot had the same yield but gave us 4 servings, which I think is a more reasonable serving (2 oz is considered a serving of dried pasta). This is crazy delicious though, so be prepared to serve fewer.

1 year ago, today: Spicy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Bucatini with Tomato, Bacon and Onion Sauce:

I decided to use crushed tomatoes rather than diced tomatoes because I wanted the pasta to be well-coated, but I slightly reduced the amount so that it wasn’t over-sauced. Some brands of crushed tomatoes are almost indistinguishable from their tomato purees, so (if you aren’t using your own home-canned tomatoes) try and use a brand that retains a good amount of texture. I like Muir Glen.

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated “Italian Favorites, 2011″, page 36
serves 2-4
– 1/2 lb bucatini (substitute linguine if needed)
– 2 tbsp butter
– 3 oz bacon, 1/4″ thickness cut into 1/4” strips
– 1 small onion, fine dice
– 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
– 1 cup crushed tomatoes (see note)
– salt & pepper
– 2 oz parmesan cheese

Bring a large heavy-bottomed pot of salted water to a boil. Add bucatini, stirring once and cooking until just al dente (it will finish cooking in the sauce. Strain pasta and coat with a bit of oil to prevent sticking, set aside. Melt butter in the emptied pot and add bacon. Saute bacon until crispy all over and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Saute onion to residual bacon fat/butter until soft. Add crushed tomatoes to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Run some water over the pasta to loosen any clumping and stir into the sauce. Use a microplane (or the fine side of a box grater) to grate most of the parmesan cheese into the pasta, reserving a bit to grate on top of the pasta. Stir in bacon and cook for just a minute longer, or until the pasta is fully cooked.


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