Simple and flavorful, bucatini all’amatriciana is named for the small town of Amatrice, located about an hour northeast of Rome. Bucatini, a long and hollow pasta, perfectly picks up the simple sauce, which is perfectly balanced with spicy chili, sharp Pecorino Romano cheese, sweet-tart tomato sauce and rich guanciale (cured pork cheek). Like bacon and pancetta, guanciale has a high fat to meat ratio. This translates into a meltingly tender texture with a deep, sweet-savory pork flavor. If pressed, we’d say guanciale has a richer flavor but can be substituted for bacon and pancetta.
What is the difference between Arrabiata and Amatriciana sauce: Both sauces are a little fiery. Arrabbiata, for example, means angry and is traditionally made with garlic, chili, tomatoes and olive oil and as such is simplicity itself. Amatriciana is very similar in composition except that pancetta/bacon is used.
Bucatini all’Amatriciana (Bucatini with Spicy Tomato Sauce, Pecorino Romano, and Guanciale)
Yield: 4 servings
400 g (14 oz) of bucatini (if not available, use farfalle or penne rigate)
150 g (51/2 oz) guanciale and if not available a mix of bacon and pancetta
1 tbsp. of olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 chili pepper chopped fine (orange or red Thai chili pepper)
1 can (600g/1lb 5 oz) of chopped tomatoes (preferably Italian)
50 g (1/2 cup) of Pecorino
Heat the oil in a large saucepan with the butter. Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until the onions become translucent.
Add the pancetta and bacon, followed by the tomato sauce and the chili pepper. Simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes or until it thickens and darkens. Once the sauce is ready, stir in the Pecorino cheese.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente, drain the pasta.
Serve immediately with additional grate Pecorino Romano on the side.
What to drink with Pasta all’Amatriciana
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo with Amatriciana pasta is a classic. Although the town of Amatrice (sadly destroyed by an earthquake in the summer of 2016) is now part of Lazio, the birthplace of one of Italy’s most famous pasta sauces was an abruzzese village until 1927, when Mussolini redefined the boundaries of several Italian regions. The special, centuries-old relationship between Montepulciano and Amatriciana proves that food and wine that come from the same geographical area tend to complement each other beautifully. With its vibrant acidity and well-integrated tannins, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is just spectacular with Amatriciana pasta.