the amatriciana sauce recipe: tasty tomato and guanciale sauce for your bucatini (or spaghetti, or rigatoni) pasta
the origins of the amatriciana sauce recipe
Welcome to the third recipe of the Long Pasta Project!
The amatriciana sauce recipe is another pasta dish which origins are uncertain, although we are talking of a few miles distance between a place and the other…
In the ‘800, just like nowadays, many people from the countryside were commuters or “expats” living in Rome. Here, they brought their expertise in different sectors, including, of course, food. For example, people from Amatrice, a small town near Rieti, were great at making pasta recipes, like gricia, which is the easiest pasta dish of the world: sautéed guanciale and pecorino cheese. I made a gricia polenta once, and you should too (here’s the recipe).
Then, when tomato was introduced to Italy (after Columbus discovered America), and someone began importing it, gricia became the delicious amatriciana pasta we all know and mouthwater for.
Did it happen in Rome? Did it happen in Amatrice? Who knows…
Luckily, we don’t need the definite answer while wrapping our noodles around and enjoying forkfuls of amatriciana pasta!
the amatriciana pasta recipe
The real amatriciana sauce recipe is made with local ingredients:
- guanciale, which is cured pork jowl that slightly differs from pancetta;
- pecorino from Amatrice (which is a tiny more delicate than pecorino romano, but, really, don’t get paranoid here, no one I know here in Italy really cares and really distinguishes between one and the other);
- and pasta, which may vary between bucatini, spaghetti, vermicelli or rigatoni.
There’s also a Roman-Jewish version of amatriciana pasta, which includes olive oil instead of pecorino and dried beef meat instead of guanciale.
The archaic amatriciana sauce recipe does not include wine, nor vinegar, so you can skip them, but do me a favor and try it both ways. To me, grown up in a tad more modern kitchens, they’re mandatory :-). As for pasta, I usually use bucatini, as they’re a favorite of our kitchen.
- Cut guanciale into strips and grate the pecorino cheese.
- If you are using fresh tomatoes, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add tomatoes and boil them less than a minute. Drain them and peel them (peel will come away easily at this point).
- Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet, add the chili and the guanciale.
- Brown guanciale until crunchy. Add wine and vinegar, and cook, low heat, until alcohol evaporates (alcohol smell is gone).
- Remove chili and a few tablespoons of guanciale. Discard the chili and set the guanciale aside.
- Finally, add tomatoes and cook 10 minutes (add a few tablespoons of water if necessary).
- Cook pasta al dente, drain it and pour it into the skillet, add ¾ of the pecorino and sauté a minute or so.
- Serve pasta hot, sprinkled with pecorino and the guanciale you kept aside.
enjoy your amatriciana sauce recipe!