Our journey through traditional Roman cuisine leads us to a fabulous classic: Bucatini all’amatriciana! This delicious dish takes its name from the town of Amatrice, in the region of Lazio. A cured pork cheek, called Guanciale, is the peak product of this town and what makes the difference in this tomato sauce. If you follow our instructions, you will render justice to the traditional recipe, but also, you will exceed your expectations!
350 gr (12.5 oz) Bucatini dried Pasta (Spaghetti is fine as an alternative)
200 gr (5.2 oz) Guanciale (DOP if available) – whole piece best; alternatively, 0.15 inches thick slices. If you can’t find Guanciale, which is a cured pork cheek, a center cut or thick cut bacon is fine.
1 tiny fresh chili pepper (or ¼ tsp of powdered chili pepper)
1 glass of white wine
300 ml (1 ¼ cup) tomato sauce (bottled tomato ‘passata’)
100 gr (3.5 oz) grated Pecorino DOP cheese
Mediterranean Sea Salt
Ground black pepper
On a cutting board, cut thin and tiny strips of Guanciale (or bacon) from the whole piece (or slices of bacon).
Add 1 tbsp of EVOO and the chili pepper to a medium-sized sauté pan. Sauté over medium heat for 30 seconds, then add the Guanciale strips and brown over medium heat until golden brown. Add a glass of white wine, and once the alcoholic part evaporates, remove the Guanciale from the pan with the help of a skimmer and place it in a dish on paper towels (this will eliminate the excess fat). Remove the chili pepper and dispose of it. Pour the tomato sauce in the sauté pan, season with salt and ground black pepper to taste, then cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, add the Guanciale back to the pan and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Add salt to the boiling water, then pour the Bucatini (remember, set the timer to get the ‘al dente’ consistency, which means that you need to subtract 2 minutes from the indicated cooking time on the pasta package). When the timer alerts you, drain the pasta out of the cooking water (saving 1-2 cups of starchy cooking water) and add to the simmering sauté pan. Sprinkle some grated Pecorino cheese then cook the pasta for another 2 minutes, to let it absorb the tomato sauce.
Serve the Bucatini on a plate or pasta bowl, garnish with grated Pecorino and enjoy your meal.
This dish pairs perfectly with Sangiovese DOP wine!