Amatriciana sauce. Say those two words in central Italy and you’ll quickly find a hungry crowd gathering around you. Then pose the question ‘Spaghetti or Bucatini?’ to see the mob descend into violence.
I will put my life on the line and state that the Romans got it right. Bucatini are far superior than Spaghetti for Amatriciana sauce. They’re thick, they’re dense, and they pair incredibly well with tomato sauce and the fatty flavor of Guanciale. But let’s take a step back.
What is Amatriciana Sauce?
Amatriciana sauce is a tomato based sauce made with Guanciale (cured pork cheek) and Pecorino cheese. Some may add onion, but I tend to steer clear of it as it introduces a sweetness I’m not all too fond of in this recipe. It started to become famous during the 19th century due to the strong connection between Rome and Amatrice. The Pecorino cheese was in fact brought to Rome from Amatrice.
The Italians favored the recipe enough to grant it the status of PAT, Proddotto Agroalimantere Tradizionale (or traditional agro-alimentary product), firmly stamping it as a classic of Italian cooking.
How to make Amatriciana Sauce
Now here is where we might make some Italians angry.
Italian food is steeped in tradition, and deviating from the original recipe tends to be met with some contention. Heck, I don’t even live in Italy and I still get into heated debates about whether we should stick to a traditional recipe versus attempting to adapt it.
I’m in favour of adapting it. I don’t live in Italy, and you probably don’t either. So you might find it tough to find Guanciale, or Pecorino cheese from Amatrice, or San Marzano tomatoes for instance. So we’re left with two options: adapt the Amatriciana sauce slightly, or spend a hefty sum on ingredients for your Amatriciana sauce.
In any case, the key to making good Bucatini All’Amatriciana is to render the fat from the Guanciale, and to use good quality tinned tomatoes. You should also try to time it right, and finish cooking the pasta the moment it needs to be added to the sauce. That way you can avoid overcooked pasta.
- 500g / 1lb Bucatini
- 400g / 14oz Canned tomatoes Plum tomatoes, or San Marzano are ideal
- 8 Cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 120g/ 4oz Guanciale or pancietta, sliced into lardons
- 40g / 1.5oz Pecorino cheese Add more to serve on the side
- 1 Small red chili, chopped
- Olive oil
- Handful of chopped parsley
- Grab a large pan, one that can fit all ingredients, and put it on medium heat. Add the Guanciale/Pancetta and cook until crisp. If you’re using pancetta add some olive oil to help it cook.
- Add the chopped red chilli, and cook for another minute. Don’t let it burn.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, and cook at a steady simmer for anywhere from 15-20 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Then add the pasta, and cook according to package instructions, leaving it slightly undercooked so you can finish it with the sauce.
- Stir the pecorino cheese and cherry tomatoes into the sauce, then toss with the pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Top with chopped parsley, a bit of olive oil, and with some more cheese