Amatriciana Pasta Sauce, sort of

Continuing on with my hunger for something other than vegetables and feathered creatures, as good as they are, I made a yummy version of amatriciana pasta sauce and linguine Monday night.  I first made this sauce in our very first home probably 23 years ago.  How can I remember that meal so vividly?  Really, I can't remember the score of the Purdue game ten minutes after I've left Mackey Arena.  I think it's all about the smell.  I thoroughly buy into the theory that the sense of smell evokes memories more vividly than almost any other sense.  Think about it.  Can you go into a room full of antiques and the warm smell of wood and your grandmother's attic takes you right there?  I am an "outside dog" as I am fond of saying.  I am happiest in the great outdoors and the damp, mossy and mineral (believe it's all the shale) smell of the woods in northeast Ohio is undeniable.  My woods in central Indiana are completely different.  More the smell of leaves and something golden (more sun, maybe?).  Love the journeys of the mind.

Anyway, the first time I made this I made it with Canadian bacon mainly because it is lower in saturated fat than bacon.  I'm pretty sure at that time I didn't even know what pancetta was and that it was probably exactly what should be used for an authentic amatriciana sauce.  Now, of course I am familiar with pancetta but still prefer smoked Canadian bacon for this recipe.  Especially the amazing double cherrywood smoked, nitrate-free, goodness-full Applewood Farms Canadian bacon I picked up at Costco. I hope you can find it.  The other twists I made with this recipe include using fire-roasted diced tomatoes (for which you already have read of my deep abiding love) instead of chopping whole tomatoes and using my deluxe Turkish red pepper flakes from Zingerman's.  If you want to add one more twist, I might suggest a generous splash of dry red wine in the sauce to deglaze the aromatics (i.e., add about a cup of red wine to the pan after the onions, garlic and Canadian bacon are browned and before you add the tomatoes).  It is a delicious sauce that pairs nicely with linguine or fettucini.  Not complicated and you can have dinner on the table in half and hour.  Enjoy!

Amatriciana Pasta Sauce

3 T olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. (I used 12 oz., I was hungry) Canadian bacon, cut in 1/2 inch dice
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 T tomato paste
28-oz. can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes (Muir Glen are my favorite), whole tomatoes (crush them yourself) or crushed tomatoes including juice 
pinch of sugar (1/4 tsp)
1 tsp dried basil or 1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan.  

try as I might, I can't get this to rotate

onions, garlic and Canadian bacon browning

ready to add the liquids

sauce simmering



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