Spaghetti Amatriciana

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

Bucatini All’Amatriciana, like most authentic Italian pastas is a simple dish from Amatrice, where tomatoes are fried in the rendered fat from guanciale and tossed together with some cheese and Bucatini. But for me, cooking is about more than just following a rigid set of rules. It’s about working with what you have and making a dish that suits your palate.

For my Spaghetti Amatriciana, I’ve embellished a bit and added shallots for extra flavor and wine for…. Well… do I really need a reason to add wine? I also didn’t have any Bucatini on hand, so I went with Spaghetti.

It’s still a wonderfully simple pasta that doesn’t take all day to make, and yet the flavors are simply irresistible. By irresistible, I mean it will having you casting other meat sauces aside like a worn out shoe. So what makes Sugo all’Amatriciana so seductive? Put simply, it’s the Guanciale.

If Pancetta is the Italian cousin of bacon, Guanciale is like Pancetta’s redneck half-brother conceived during a moment of passion in a cellar perched atop a hill in Lazio. Sure, it’s not as pretty looking as a roll of neatly layered Pancetta, but what it lacks in polish, it more than compensates for with its wild marbling, intense meaty flavor, and dare-I-say hint of barnyard funk.

Guanciale for Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

Whoever described bacon as meat-crack is just wrong. Guanciale makes bacon look like watered down over-the-counter cough syrup. If you’re wondering why I’m using drug analogies, I’ll tell you why: guanciale is dangerous. This stuff should be regulated by the FDA with a big warning label: GUANCIALE IS EXTREMELY ADDICTIVE AND HAS BEEN KNOWN TO CAUSE PEOPLE TO COMMIT UNSEEMLY ACTS IN ORDER TO GET SOME. OH YEA… AND IT’S MOSTLY LARD, SO IT WILL MAKE YOU OBESE AND GIVE YOU HEART DISEASE (IF THE SALT DOESN’T KILL YOU FIRST).

Unfortunately (or fortunately), it’s difficult to find in the US, so any cardiologists reading this can relax. That’s also probably why it’s managed to fly under food safety groups’ radar for now. Pancetta or unsmoked bacon could be used in a pinch, but it would be like The Beatles without Lennon or Apple sans Jobs. Still delicious, but not quite the same.

Spaghetti Amatriciana
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Sugo all'Amatriciana is a simple pasta sauce from Amatrice made with guanciale, tomatoes and pecorino cheese.
Spaghetti Amatriciana
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Sugo all'Amatriciana is a simple pasta sauce from Amatrice made with guanciale, tomatoes and pecorino cheese.
Servings Prep Time
people 5minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Servings Prep Time
people 5minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Ingredients
  • 150 grams Guanciale cut into 1/4″ batons
  • 1 chili pepper smashed
  • 1 medium shallot finely minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 375 grams whole stewed tomatoes (preferably from San Marzano)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 30 grams Pecorino Romano finely grated
  • 250 grams spaghetti
Units:
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the Guanciale to a frying pan in a single layer and put the pan over medium high heat and let it brown on one side until some fat has rendered out.
  3. Add the chili pepper and shallots and stir-fry until the shallots are cooked and fragrant. Be careful not to overcook the guanciale or all the fat will render out making it tough.
  4. Add the wine and let it boil until most of the alcohol has burned off.
  5. Add the pasta to the boiling water. Boil the pasta for 1 minute less than what the directions say.
  6. Add the stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and salt. Use a spatula to crush the tomatoes and simmer over medium low heat until the pasta is done.
  7. Drain the pasta reserving some of the boiling water water (the tomato can is a good place to put it).
  8. Add 3/4 of the Pecorino Romano to the sauce and stir to incorporate.
  9. Add the pasta and toss to coat evenly, add some of the reserved pasta water if the noodles start sticking together.
  10. Plate the pasta and serve with the remaining cheese for sprinkling.
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  • JoyDon

    I love your description of this. Makes me want to make some today!

  • Sierra

    I know my local grocery store sells cured smoked pork jowl. Would it be better to use this because they are both jowls, or would the smoke flavor throw things off?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Sierra, it won’t be the same, but I’m sure it would still be delicious with smoked pork jowl. Give it a go and let us know what you think.

  • KD

    Marc, your recipes are always inspirational as well as educational. Even if your recipe may not be one I’m going to try, I eagerly wait for each & every post because quite simply, your writing style is so elegantly hysterical & able to create instant visuals in my head that keep me chuckling all the live long day(s). Thank you for that & write on! ;-)

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Thanks, glad to hear I could make you laugh:-)

  • G

    Do you think salt pork would be a good substitute?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi G, salt pork is usually made with belly or fatback, which has a different kind of marbling, it also isn’t usually seasoned with spices or cured the way guanciale is. It will certainly work and it will probably be tasty, but I can’t recommend it as a good substitute for guanciale.

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!