Pasta all'Amatriciana is - as the name infers - a traditional dish hailing from the town of Amatrice, near the mountainous regions of Rieti and Lazio. The first written record of Amatriciana sauce dates back to the late 18th century, in the cookbook L’Apicio Moderno, although it seems likely that earlier variations of Amatriciana date much further back. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Amatriciana recipe grew increasingly famous and ubiquitous in the nearby capital, Roma, even earning status as a classic Roman dish, despite being invented elsewhere.
Amatrician natives are staunchly protective over this recipe, and are quick to condemn any creative digressions - the town council once declared the inclusion of garlic by respected Italian chef Carlo Cracco as a ‘lack of judgement’ on his part. Traditionally, this sauce is made with guanciale (pork cheek), which is gently fried until crisp, then covered in a vibrant tomato sauce and served with fresh Pecorino Romano, a famous Italian hard cheese also native to Lazio. Simple but intensely meaty in flavour, this quick recipe is an authentic taste of Amatrice.
Pasta all'Amatriciana recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes (excluding pasta)
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Calories per serving: 628kcal (including pasta)
- 200g pasta of your choice (we enjoy our Amatriciana sauce with tangles of bucatini or spaghetti)
- 150g guanciale
- 1 fresh red chilli
- 400g peeled tomatoes
- 70g Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/2 glass dry white wine
- 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Clean the Guanciale, ensuring to remove the tough rind. Cut the meat into cubes, before frying in a dry pan over low heat until crisp and browned. Once the fat renders, add the finely chopped red chilli and continue to fry. If you prefer a milder dish, substitute the chilli for freshly cracked black pepper.
- Once the guanciale is crisp, add the white wine. Allow the alcohol to cook off, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- To prepare your tomato sauce, chop your peeled tomatoes, being sure to remove as many seeds as possible - ideally, you only want to use the flesh. Add the tomatoes to the pan containing the guanciale, and crush until a rustic sauce is obtained. Allow this to simmer and thicken slightly, before seasoning with salt and pepper (or additional chilli) to taste.
- Bring a pot of generously salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add your preferred pasta and cook until al dente. Once cooked, drain the pasta, making sure to reserve a ladle or so of the starchy cooking water. Add the pasta and grated Pecorino to the sauce, tossing until completely coated. If necessary, add a splash of the pasta water to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately, garnishing with freshly grated Pecorino Romano.
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