BucatiniĀ all'Amatriciana

July  7, 2014
3 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 4
What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces guanciale (if you can't find guanciale you can use pancetta or unsmoked bacon), roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • 1 pound bucatini
  • Grated Pecorino Romano, for serving
  1. Set a large pot of heavily salted water on to boil. Meanwhile, put the olive oil and guanciale in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until the guanciale starts to crisp and has rendered most of its fat, about 7 minutes.
  2. Scoop off all but about a tablespoon of the fat and reserve it for another use. Add the onions and red pepper flakes to the pan, stirring through. Cook until the onion softens and starts to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and butter and a couple generous pinches of salt and simmer the sauce over the lowest heat possible while you cook the bucatini.
  4. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until just al dente. Drain, reserving about a cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot over low heat and stir in about two thirds of the sauce. Add more sauce if you'd like, and a little pasta water if it seems dry. Serve the pasta immediately, with lots of Pecorino Romano grated over the top and more red pepper flakes on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jan Weber
    Jan Weber
  • Merrill Stubbs
    Merrill Stubbs
  • derekp
  • Sunny Yoon
    Sunny Yoon

10 Reviews

Sunny Y. September 1, 2014
I made this with unsmoked bacon because that's what I happened to have and immediately tagged the recipe as a regular rotation item. Totally easy and delicious!
Alyssa July 13, 2014
Would adding mushrooms and spinach to the sauce change the texture too much or do you think it would still be good?
Merrill S. July 13, 2014
I probably wouldn't add too much else to this sauce, so as to preserve the flavor of the guanciale -- maybe serve the mushrooms and spinach together on the side, simply sauteed with some garlic?
Alyssa July 13, 2014
I cant find the guanciale here in my area so I will be going with bacon or panchetta. Seeing as this is what I will need to use, maybe I will try the recipe without them and go from there! Thanks!
Grace S. July 10, 2014
Please tell me what guanciale is.

Jan W. July 11, 2014
Guanciale - 'little cheek' in some Italian languages, is the common name in Italy for the cured jowl or cheek of a pig, used to add flavor to various dishes. Aged guanciale can be served as charcuterie. It is most famous in the regions of Lazio, Umbria, Abruzzo, and Molise, especially in the Central Apennines. It has a stronger, more porky flavor than pancetta or bacon.
Jan W. July 10, 2014
Merrill - thank you so much for your response and you make an excellent point. I have a penchant for San Marzano tomatoes, so I don't tend to have issues with acidity with my tomato sauce. However, for the more zippy varieties of fresh or canned tomatoes - I can definitely understand wanting to smooth of the acidity so that the more savoury umami flavors of the guanciale aren't masked.

I suppose it is all a matter of preference for tomato sauces, but for me, I usually use about 4 oz of guanciale for my 'all amatriciana. If my guanciale cut is particularly fatty I will make it a bit less - sometimes I don't render it completely in that case so I can have some semi-crispy bits of guanciale. We all know the fat is where the flavor lives :D .
Merrill S. July 10, 2014
Yes, I should have specified that you should NOT throw away that pork gold! Jan, as you point out, some guanciale is fattier, and in this case leaving in all the rendered fat can lead to a greasy sauce. I like having lots of meaty bits, so I prefer to pour off a little of the fat if necessary and use it to make something else delicious. And in my mind, butter serves a particular purpose here -- even just a dab smooths out the acidity of the tomato sauce and mellows any sharp edges. Of course, leave it out if you prefer!
derekp July 10, 2014
Have to say I'm with Jan -throwing away fat from guanciale does seem blasphemous, and I'm not even from Lazio...
Jan W. July 9, 2014
This recipe puzzles me because it removes most of the incredibly flavorful rendered fat from the guanciale, among some chefs in Lazio this would probably be tantamount to blasphemy. If you are lucky enough to live near an establishment that sells authentic guanciale or can make your own, the stuff is like pork gold. You'll pay upwards of $15/lb for the stuff on a good day, usually much more. Therefore, I suggest using less guanciale if there is more fat than lean, maybe 3 oz instead of 6. I also would not use butter in traditional amatriciana sauce - that's why the guanciale is used in the first place!! Just look that the glorious fat in it!