Bucatini all'Amatriciana

January 19, 2010
Photo by Joseph De Leo
Author Notes

Given that we are talking about nose to tail, I'm offering you a piece of pig face that's fit for a pope. You really should seek out real guanciale for this authentically Roman recipe. This plate can be prepared in the time it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook. The key ingredient is “guanciale” which is an unsmoked bacon made from pork jowl. This recipe serves two but it can easily be doubled. Keep in mind that pasta is typically served as a first course ahead of the entrée. —pierino

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: pierino is a self-described "standup commis, fougassier and flaneur" and a trusted Food52 authority on Italian food.
WHAT: A pitch-perfect recipe for the Roman classic.
HOW: Saute the shallot and guanciale, add the tomatoes, then the pasta. Grate cheese. (That's it.)
WHY WE LOVE IT: This recipe is a perfect example of why we love Roman cooking: simple, good-quality ingredients, prepared in little to no time. You can find guanciale at your butcher, but, if needed, you can substitute pancetta or bacon. —The Editors

  • Serves 2-4
  • 1 handful bucatini pasta, or substitute perciatelli
  • Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons or enough to coat the bottom of your pan
  • 1 large shallot or the equivalent amount of chopped onion
  • 1 dried hot pepper, coarsely chopped and seeds separated. Alternatively, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (separate the seeds with the point of a knife).
  • 4 ounces guanciale, chopped (or substitute pancetta or bacon)
  • 14 ounces chopped, canned tomatoes (in summer by all means substitute fresh)
  • Freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • A chiffonade of two basil leaves or alternatively a small handful of finely chopped parsley for garnish; very optional
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the olive oil until it’s shimmering but not smoking. Saute the the shallot, the guanciale and the pepper flakes until the onion is only lightly colored.
  2. Turn down the heat to low and add the tomatoes. Simmer this while the pasta is cooking. Add salt and pepper.
  3. When the pasta is cooked drain it saving a few tablespoons of pasta water (if needed). Add the drained pasta directly to the sauce and stir to combine. Make sure the sauce is “tight” but if it’s too tight flick in a little bit of the pasta water.
  4. To plate: using tongs portion out the pasta on warm plates. Grate the pecorino cheese over each. If using the garnish sprinkle it over the top.
  5. Notes to cook: it's worth your trouble to source real guanciale even if it is domestic. You can substitute pancetta but we are talking nose to tail here, so we want you using face parts. Bucatini is a long, relatively thick strand of round pasta with a pinhole running through it. Latini is a good brand as is Rustichella D’abbruzzo. But perciatelli works just fine. Focus on the guanciale.
  6. Find the guanciale. Make me proud. You can do it.
  7. Note to cook: You can up the amount of red pepper if you like but we're not going all' arrabbiata here.

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Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.