Regional dishes are often the cause of dispute between Italians, whether professional chefs or amateur chefs, and Pasta all’Amatriciana is no exception!
Bucatini, spaghetti, or penne, guanciale or bacon, garlic or onion are the main questions that anyone preparing this recipe for the first time has to face.
It is said that this famous dish born in Amatrice was the main meal of the shepherds, but originally it was without tomatoes and took the name “gricia”; this ingredient was added later when tomatoes were imported from the Americas, and the seasoning took the name Amatriciana.
Therefore, it is expected that such an ancient and famous recipe has been transformed over time, taking on the many variations still discussed today.
- 1 lb pasta, bucatini, or spaghetti as an alternative. Even penne can be used
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 oz slab guanciale, or bacon or pancetta finely diced
- 3 T butter
- 2 – 14 1/2 oz (or 1 28 oz) can Italian plum tomatoes, crushed
- 1/2 chili pepper, broken into small pieces, or 1/4 t chili pepper flakes to taste
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup pecorino cheese
How to make Pasta all’Amatriciana:
How to make the pasta all amatriciana: melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion until transparent, or about 5 minutes. Then add the chili, pancetta, and sauté until onion is golden and the pancetta or bacon is nice and crisp about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium-high heat, occasionally stirring, making sure sauce does not burn for about 15 minutes.
Add the salt to taste. Make sure it needs salt, as pancetta and or bacon are pretty salty.
You will also be later adding the cheese, which is rather salty, too.
At the same time, cook the pasta. When done to taste, drain and pour into a warm serving bowl or directly into the pan with the sauce, mix well, adding grated cheese to taste, and serve the pasta all amatriciana. Pass extra cheese at the table.
Where to buy real Italian Guanciale in the USA
The first time we made spaghetti all amatriciana, in DC, we used pancetta sliced thick bought at a local grocery store. The result was good. Then I found that Salumeriaitaliana.com sells Italian guanciale online in the USA. So, the next time we made spaghetti all amatriciana using the real guanciale we bought from them. We and our American friends, who had joined us at dinner, realized that there is no comparison: the real guanciale is much, much better!
I have been put in charge of ordering more guanciale for the next dinner!
In the pasta all amatriciana, spaghetti can be substituted for the bucatini or, if in a crunch, pennette.
Serves 4 to 6
Pasta all’Amatriciana comes from Amatrice, a town between Lazio and Abruzzi about 80 miles northeast of Rome.
A bit of history:
This dish comes from Amatrice, a town on the border between Lazio and Abruzzi about 80 miles northeast of Rome.
Il guanciale di Amatrice and the amatriciana: food favored by the transhumant Abbruzzese sheep carers due to its easy conservation and transportation, and its high caloric value, the guanciale, a sort of cured meat, originally was, together with the pecorino cheese, the only condiment for the pasta, that was called “GRICIA.” At the end of 700, with the addition of tomatoes, this dish became famous with the name “AMATRICIANA.”
On the Sunday after Ferragosto, August 15, Bucatini all’Amatriciana is served with great fanfare at local celebrations. Ferragosto, “Holiday of August,” is one of the most observed Italian public holidays when practically all of Italy comes to a halt.
The big factories in the North close. Most Italians leave the large towns to the elderly and the tourists.
Regional Recipe from Lazio and Abruzzi