5 Ingredients or Fewer

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

August 27, 2016
7 Ratings
Photo by Emiko
  • Makes 4 generous portions
Author Notes

It is a deceptively simple and delicious sauce of tomato, guanciale (cured and ever so slightly smoked pork jowl), a hint of chile and pecorino (sheeps milk cheese), which is used both in the sauce as well as a garnish. It traditionally is paired with bucatini pasta, but spaghetti or even rigatoni are also used. It is important to cook the pasta al dente—look at the recommended boiling time on the packet and take off 1 minute.

A tiny splash of white wine sometimes makes an appearance, as does a drop of olive oil (although many will point out that sizzling guanciale produces enough of its own fat and flavour of its own that it is an unnecessary addition). Like other historical dishes with thousands of years of proud history and culture behind them, making amatriciana involves respecting rules. One of those most frequently broken is the addition of onion or garlic in the sauce—don't go there. —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • 14 ounces (400 grams) bucatini, spaghetti, or rigatoni
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) guanciale (cured pork jowl)
  • 14 ounces (400 grams) tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)
  • 1 dried or fresh red hot chile, sliced finely
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan), plus more for garnish
  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil the pasta and when it starts boiling, salt it with 2 teaspoons of salt.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the guanciale. Cut off the tough layer of rind (the “cotenna,” in Italian), if present, then slice the rest of the guanciale (which should be mostly fat with a thin streak of flesh through it) thinly, then into sticks about 1/4 inch (5mm) wide.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and fry the guanciale pieces until the fat has melted and sizzled to a golden brown. Add the tomato and chile and bring back to a simmer over low-medium heat. Let cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just before taking off the heat, add the pecorino cheese and stir through, until the sauce is creamy. Set aside until pasta is ready.
  4. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente—I recommend looking at the timing instructed on the packet and taking off a minute or so. Drain the pasta, saving about a cup full of the pasta's cooking water. Add the pasta directly to the skillet with the amatriciana sauce, along with a splash of the cooking water, to help loosen the sauce. You want the sauce to easily coat the pasta but still be quite thick. Toss well until the pasta is coated (if the sauce has gone cold, reheat it before tossing) then serve immediately, with more pecorino over the top if desired.

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2 Reviews

Natalie R. October 4, 2016
It took me three weeks to get guanciale. One store in my city (a big city at that) carries it, but they sell out within the day and hadn't been getting shipments on top of that. It was immensely expensive to boot, so I was really hoping the ingredient would be worthwhile.

It was.

This is my new favorite pasta. I started the guanciale (which I think I cut more cube-like than intended) in a cold skillet to let the fat render a little. Mine didn't have a rind, but it was coated in black pepper and a few other spices that I decided to leave on. I used dried chile and added more tomatoes than the recipe called for because it didn't seem like enough (I think that was because I had "strained tomatoes", which would be denser). Excellent, excellent, excellent! I cannot emphasize enough that you must use pecorino Romano with this! I haven't had pancetta, but I loved the texture and flavor of the guanciale. Thank you for sharing!

An added note: I considered using some very nice spaghetti I had instead of bucatini, but my grocer was a big fan of bucatini and got so excited about her favorite brands that I bought some. After trying it, I wouldn't substitute spaghetti unless you have something very thick. The firmness of the guanciale needs the thick bounce of the bucatini.
Molly October 3, 2016
This recipe is delicious! It was such a hit in our house last night. If your grocery store doesn't have guanciale there are easy substitutes, like pancetta or cured pork. Look forward to making it again!