If you haven’t been craving bucatini lately, then clearly you have yet to read this deeply reported yet hilarious article about the current bucatini shortage. Some may even call it a crisis. Yes, there are far more important things going on in the world, but we’ve been using food to distract us from politics and the pandemic for months, so there’s no reason to stop now. That’s exactly why now is the perfect time to fixate on the packages of bucatini that have essentially vanished from grocery store shelves.
Since there are few things we love more than that which we cannot have, there’s a strong chance that folks are going to start hoarding bucatini the way they were stockpiling disinfectant wipes and toilet paper back in March. If you’re still stuck on spaghetti but now want to give this elusive bucatini a try, here’s what you need to know about this Italian pasta shape, and what to do with it once you get your hands on some.
Put simply, bucatini is a long, extruded pasta that has a thin hole running through the center, making it hollow — buco means hole in Italian. Think of it like a hybrid between a thick ziti noodle and spaghetti. Although bucatini is sometimes available fresh, it is most commonly found dried. You cook it like any other pasta — in salted boiling water — and pair it with the sauce of your choice.
Well, before the current bucatini shortage, the tubular pasta was a favorite among chefs and noodle aficionados. Whereas other long pastas get coated in sauce, bucatini gets both coated and filled with sauce so the flavors have a chance to fully soak into each strand. The texture, especially when cooked al dente and paired with a robust sauce, is pleasantly toothsome and delightful. Of course, now that word is out that we need to ration our bucatini pasta, the obsession is only getting stronger.
Hailing from the central Italian town of Amatrice, bucatini all’Amatriciana has been popular since at least the early 19th century. With a mix of guanciale, pecorino and tomatoes, it’s easy to see why this classic dish has such staying power. If you can’t find guanciale (aka cured pork jowl), then pancetta, bacon, prosciutto, or even a plant-based bacon can make decent substitutes. And, while pecorino Romano is a young sheep’s milk cheese, if you’re in a pinch you can swap in its older, cow’s milk cousin, Parmigiano Reggiano.
Although Amatriciana can be made with just about any pasta shape, bucatini is widely considered the ultimate vehicle for this umami-rich sauce. It’s an Italian night game-changer. So next time you see bucatini at the store, don’t hesitate to snatch it up. You won’t regret it.