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Bucatini All´Amatriciana

Posted on May 26, 2013.


All´amatriciana is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (cured pork cheek), pecorino cheese, and tomato. Amatriciana originated from the town of Amatrice in the mountainous Province of Rieti of Lazio region, and is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Roman and Italian cuisine. The amatriciana recipe became increasingly famous in Rome over the 19th and early 20th centuries and went on to be considered a "classic" of the Roman Cuisine, even though it originated elsewhere.

While in Amatrice the dish is prepared with spaghetti, the use of bucatini has become extremely popular. You can use any pasta with this dish, but make sure you remove the pasta from the boiling water before it´s fully cooked, and immediately rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. The pasta will be finished in the pan with the sauce.

The traditional amatriciana recipe uses guanciale, which is unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig´s jowl or cheeks. Its name comes from the Italian word for cheek (guancia). Guanciale is similar to jowl bacon, but its flavor is stronger than other pork products and its texture is more delicate. If you can´t find guanciale, you can substitute Pancetta (cured Italian bacon). Note that Pancetta has a high-salt content, so be careful to not add any salt to this dish until after it has fully cooked down.

In my version of this dish, I use both San Marzano canned tomatoes and fresh vine-ripe tomatoes. The fresh tomatoes are introduced at the very end to add a fresh and crisp flavor to the dish. I also prefer to use the graded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese as a garnish rather than mixing it into the dish.


8 ounces guanciale chopped (can substitute Pancetta)
2 red onions diced
1 (28 ounce) can of peeled and whole San Marzano tomatoes
6 vine-ripe tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1 pound bucatini pasta


In a large sauce pan on high heat, add the olive oil and cooked the guanciale until crispy.

Reduce the pan to medium heat and add the onions and crushed red pepper. Cook the onions until they are translucent (about 5-7 minutes).

Deglaze with the red wine and cook until the wine is fully reduced.

Add the San Marzano tomatoes and use a spatula to chop the whole canned tomatoes into large pieces. Raise the heat to high until the sauce begins to boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for about 1 hour. While cooking the tomato sauce, use the chicken broth sparingly as necessary to keep the sauce from drying out.

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for several minutes less than the instructions on the package. The pasta should be slightly harder than al dente.

Drain the pasta in a colander and immediately rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Then drizzle a little olive on the pasta to keep it from sticking.  

Approximately 10 minutes before you are ready to serve this dish, add the fresh chopped tomatoes to the sauce. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the juices of the fresh tomatoes are reduced (about 5 minutes).

At this point you can taste test the sauce for salt level and add salt as necessary.

Add the pasta to the pan of sauce and gently fold the pasta into the sauce. You can add a little more chicken broth if necessary, or drizzle with olive oil.  

Stir in the cheese and serve. For a cleaner, healthier version you can leave the cheese out and use as a garnish.


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Posted By: Chief Foodie Officer