Bucatini pasta is a long, hollow Italian pasta. While at first glance it might look like thick spaghetti, bucatini is a very unique noodle, and it plays an important role in the cuisine of some Italian regions. Pasta specialty stores may carry it, and it is also possible to find bucatini pasta in some grocery stores, especially in areas with a large Italian population. It is difficult to make at home without the proper mold, but one can be ordered, for determined cooks.
The name for the pasta is derived from the Italian buco, which means “hole,” a reference to the hollow shape of bucatini pasta. It is believed that the pasta originated in central Italy. It is closely related to maccheroncelli, another long, tubular pasta. Bucatini may also be found labeled as perciatelli. All of these pastas are slightly different, but closely related enough that they can frequently be substituted for each other.
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Because the pasta is dense and strong, bucatini pairs well with robust, hearty sauces, especially those which contain meat. One of the classic dishes containing bucatini pasta, Bucatini all'Amatriciana, is made with bucatini and a hearty tomato sauce with large chunks of pancetta or bacon. This sauce pairs very well with the pasta, which is ideally suited to holding up heavy sauces. In other parts of Italy, bucatini pasta is served with fresh butter and herbs.
In addition to being cooked and served whole, bucatini may also be broken up into chunks for inclusion in things like minestrone soup. The highly versatile and thick pasta tends to remain chewy and whole longer than some other types of hollow pasta, such as macaroni, so it is an excellent choice for foods such as casseroles. It also develops an excellent texture as it cooks, and has a chewy, dense mouthfeel when cooked al dente which many people find quite enjoyable.
Typically, bucatini pasta is made with durum wheat for a strong, resilient texture through cooking. It is usually sold in a dried form, although it could theoretically be eaten fresh as well. Since bucatini is usually sold dried, it can often be ordered through a company which specializes in Italian imports, if you have difficulty finding it in your area. Like other pastas, bucatini keeps best in a cool dry place, and the pasta should not be exposed to sunlight or moisture, as this may break down the structure of the pasta.