“Pasta Amatriciana is basically spaghetti with onions and bacon. We kids had a hard time pronouncing it so my mom just called it Pasta America, because what American doesn’t like bacon?” — Rachael Ray
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
Heat a large saucepot or skillet over medium to medium-high. Add the oil, three turns of the pan. Add the guanciale and cook, stirring often, until the fat renders, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic; season with the sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the bay leaves and cook, partially covered, until the onions soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the stock and vinegar and cook, stirring often, until absorbed into the onions, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking them up with a spoon. Let the sauce simmer until ready to serve.
Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 minute shy of the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain.
Remove the bay leaves from the sauce.
Toss the pasta, cooking water, and a handful of cheese with the sauce until the pasta is coated. Serve in shallow bowls and pass more cheese at the table.