Creamy 'Alla Amatriciana-ish' Pasta

Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 4
Tomato paste and cream combine to make a velvety, rich sauce for pasta in this quick take on a Roman classic.
(Danielle Campbell / For The Times)
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A riff on the Roman classic, this pasta is coated in a thick, rich tomato-and-cream sauce. Use any pasta you like, particularly one with nooks and crannies or hollow insides to catch all the sauce. If you can’t find pancetta, you can use bacon instead, but it will lend its characteristic smoky flavor to the dish. If you have the patience, blanch the chopped bacon in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and let cool before using to eliminate some of the smokiness.


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until browned and crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.


Add the chile flakes and anchovies and cook, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve in the oil, about 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the paste starts to caramelize and turns dark red, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the cream and stir until completely combined. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and remove the skillet from the heat.


Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until it is al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water then drain the pasta.


Add the pasta to the sauce in the skillet, along with 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, and heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is creamy and coats the pasta evenly, adding more pasta water if needed.


Serve the pasta while hot with freshly grated parmesan cheese and more chile flakes on the side for sprinkling over each serving.