Bucatini all'Amatriciana

January 19, 2010
3 Ratings
Photo by Joseph De Leo
  • Serves 2-4
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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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.

21 Reviews

AlainaMK February 16, 2014
I made this last night and it was delicious. I hunted down the guanciale per pierino's recommendation, and boy was it worth it. I'm sure bacon or pancetta would have been fine, but the flavor and texture of the guanciale is so unique (and soooo tasty) and brings this dish to another level. I followed cookinginvictoria's tip on sauteeing the guanciale first for a bit, then added the shallot to cook in the oil/fat mixture. Outstanding.
Tad F. May 5, 2013
I increased the ingredients by 50 per cent and it fed a family of four as a main (and only) course. Substituted linguine and parmigiano and it worked beautifully. A tasty and very satisfying dish.
cookinginvictoria November 28, 2012
Congratulations pierino, on being in the winner's circle! You so deserve it. This recipe rocks. I have made it a number of times (most recently just last night!), and I love the gusty simple flavors in this dish. It can be put together quickly for a weeknight dinner but I have served it to company as well. I usually use onion, rather than a shallot. I often saute the guanciale first (always guanciale, not bacon!) and then let the onion cook in a mixture of olive oil and guanciale fat. Italian comfort food at its very best!
gustus November 2, 2012
Bravo, Bill!
fiveandspice November 1, 2012
Bravissimo! Ever so well deserved!
pierino November 2, 2012
And thank you too!
pierino November 2, 2012
Thanks very much. This has been fun.
Bevi November 1, 2012
Congratulations! This is well deserved!
dymnyno November 1, 2012
Congratulations on a well deserved Wild Card Win!!!!!
boulangere November 1, 2012
Bravo, my friend.
pierino November 2, 2012
Thanks very much. I've been waiting three years to finally lift the cup and the competition just keeps getting deeper and deeper as the site grows.
inpatskitchen November 1, 2012
Bravo pierino! Certainly a well deserved win!!!
Midge November 1, 2012
Congrats pierino!! Well-deserved!
pierino November 2, 2012
Thanks Midge, I wasn't aware I actually had a winner until I saw your message come through. I'd skate around the ice holding up the cup but the NHL players are locked out right now.
Maria T. January 22, 2010
Guanciale, guanciale, have you tried it processed in a blender with rosemary and spread on toast?! Man, it's to dye for and come back for more!
Kelsey B. January 20, 2010
lastnightsdinner January 19, 2010
Good man. :)
mrslarkin January 19, 2010
Is the guanciale flavor similar to prosciutto? I will look for it. I'm Italian, but this is something I've never had growing up, and I've tried a lot.
pierino January 19, 2010
No, just about the only seasoning prosciutto receives is salt. Whereas guanciale picks up some additional flavors depending on who is making it. Odds are (depending on where you live) that you will have to order it on line, Zingerman's, Corti Bros, Salumi et al. I'm sorry but you have to work for this one if you want it to be true to the Roma prototype. Pancetta works as a substitute but I'm staying true to the theme of the contest.
Kayb January 19, 2010
All those years, when I was eating hogsjaw, it was really guanciale. Who'd'a thunk it. (If you're in the rural South, you can source it quite easily.)
dominicc January 21, 2010
if you can get a hold of some pork jowls, guanciale is really easy to make. i made some awhile back.