Off the Menu: Bucatini alla amatriciana at Resorts World Las Vegas
Discover the secret to perfect bucatini alla amatriciana from Nicole Brisson, the executive chef and partner of Brezza at Resorts World Las Vegas. | By Leanne Philip | October 6, 2022 (Updated March 6, 2023)
Las Vegas may not be the first place you think of when it comes to Italian food, but it should be. At least, that’s what Nicole Brisson, executive chef and partner of modern Italian restaurant Brezza located in Resorts World Las Vegas, is hoping.
For Brisson, who cut her teeth working with some of the best chefs in Italy (and continues to go back to the food-forward country once a year), nothing beats the warmth and well-balanced flavors in a delicious plate of handmade pasta. This is especially true when serving up her bucatini alla amatriciana, a pasta recipe that combines the sweetness of tomatoes with the rich smokiness of guanciale — all brightened with a touch of pecorino, of course. In fact, it’s these three ingredients that make this pasta dish so memorable for chef Brisson.
“While I was working for the [Mario Batali] group, I got an amazing opportunity to be an ambassador of Rustichella d’Abruzzo pasta, one of my favorite artisanal pasta companies. [In this role,] we had the chance to work in a small female-owned restaurant, and were set up with local guanciale, local pecorino and tomato passata to learn the chef’s take on classic pasta preparations — specifically bucatini alla amatriciana.”
The importance of quality ingredients and sourcing is something that chef Brisson imparts throughout her own kitchen. Brezza’s commitment can be seen through its farm-to-table menu (that changes seasonally to highlight flavors that are naturally available), the intuitive forager that delivers its weekly farmers’ market haul and the small heritage farm partners that supply the restaurant’s heartier offerings.
“It’s similar to how you would cook from the markets in Italy. Cooking is all heart — when you’re layering flavors into a dish, its layers of your own emotions… I think that and our focus on education creates an experience where it really feels like we are welcoming you to our dining room table.”
So, pull up a chair and get ready to dig in.
— 4 ounces bucatini pasta
— 1 teaspoon cooking oil
— 2 ounces guanciale, batonnet-cut: 2” long, ¼” by ¼” thick
— 2 ounces red onion, sliced ¼” thick
— 1 tablespoon Fresno chili, sliced
— ½ clove garlic, finely sliced
— 1 teaspoon shallots, finely diced
— 1 teaspoon sweet mini peppers, finely diced*
— Pinch red pepper flakes
— Pinch fresh ground black pepper
— 3/4 cup tomato sauce
— 2.5 teaspoons pecorino, grated
— 10 leaves parsley
— 1 tablespoon Monini extra-virgin olive oil
*Note: you can use fresh or pickled mini peppers.
Place a medium pot of lightly salted water over a high flame on stove top to boil. Once water is boiled, add pasta. If you’re using dry pasta, your cook time will be around 9 minutes. Fresh pasta will cook in approximately 3 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, place a medium-sized saute pan on high heat. Add cooking oil and guanciale, cooking until a nice golden brown.
Add red onion to saute pan and cook together with guanciale until onion is caramelized and guanciale is crispy.
Discard half of the renderings from the guanciale and add Fresno chili, garlic, shallots, sweet mini peppers, red pepper flakes and ground black pepper. Cook until translucent.
Add tomato sauce to the pan to deglaze it. Bring to a simmer and add cooked pasta to pan sauce, allowing the pasta to cook in the sauce. Toss for about a minute. If needed, thin sauce with pasta water.
Add pecorino, parsley and extra-virgin olive oil, tossing together until nicely emulsified.
Serve and enjoy!
(Recipe from executive chef Nicole Brisson, 2022.)
Leanne Philip is a content marketing manager at Hilton. She has written for numerous print and digital platforms, including Travel + Leisure, The Atlantan and Barneys New York.