This staple Roman pasta uses a rich tomato sauce made with pancetta or guanciale (i.e. bacon), often with pecorino cheese and onion, and spicy red pepper. It is named for the town of Amatrice, in Lazio outside Rome, where it originated, but it is now a signature of Roman cooking and the Roman recipe differs from the original in several ways, mainly in adding onion. This is the official national recipe of the town of Amatrice. It is traditionally served over spaghetti, or the Latium specialty pasta bucatini, a long, thick spaghetti-like noodle with a hole down the center which is extremely obstreperous, fun to eat and guaranteed to get sauce all over you and everything else.
Ingredients 500 g. of spaghetti (~ 1 lb.)
- 125 g. of Amatrice guanciale (~ ¼ lb) cut into little pieces
- One tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
- A drop of dry white wine
- 6 or 7 San Marzano tomatoes or 400 g. of peeled tomatoes
- A pinch of hot chili pepper, or minced pepper
- 100 g .of grated pecorino from Amatrice
- In a pan, place the oil, hot pepper and guanciale pieces. The official town website says, “The proportion of one-fourth, compared to the amount of pasta, is traditional and sacred for the experts. And either you use guanciale, meaning the part of the pig’s jaw and cheek, or it’s not really Spaghetti all’Amatriciana; only with guanciale will the dish be incomparably delicate and sweet.” (The official town website doesn’t quite parse English as we do, but the idea is vaguely clear.)
- Brown the ingredients over a high flame. Add the wine.
- Remove the pieces of guanciale from the pan, let them drip dry and set them aside, keeping them hot if possible; this way, they won’t become too hard, dry or salty.
- Add the tomatoes cut in strips and with the seeds removed (blanch them to make it easy to remove the skin, then cut them). Adjust for salt, mix, and place over the heat for a few minutes.
- Remove the chili pepper, put the pieces of guanciale back in, and mix the sauce again.
- IMPORTANT: When pasta is done, strain it well and put it into a bowl, then add the grated pecorino before you add the sauce.
- Wait a few seconds for cheese to melt, then pour on the sauce.
- Mix everything together, and prepare more pecorino on the side for those who want it.