Pasta all’Amatriciana

Pasta all'Amatriciana

Pasta all’Amatriciana

Amatriciana sauce is a zesty guanciale (or pancetta, in a pinch) and tomato sauce, and though it’s commonly considered one of Rome’s signature pasta sauces, it draws its name from the town of Amatrice, which was just over the border into the Abruzzo before Mussolini redrew the maps.

To serve 4 you’ll need:

  • 1 pound pasta, for example mezze maniche (shown here), bucatini, or thick stranded spaghetti (see note)
  • 1/4 pound (100 g) pancetta or guanciale, diced (see note)
  • 1 pound (400 g) ripe tomatoes (4-5 plum tomaoteos), blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Half an onion, minced
  • A hot pepper, seeded and shredded (or leave it whole if you want to remove it)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • An abundance (a cup) of freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Set the pasta water to heat, salt it when it boils, and cook the pasta. While this is happening, heat the oil in a skillet, add the diced meat, and cook until it browns, stirring the pieces about. Remove them to a sheet of absorbent paper with a slotted spoon and keep them warm. Add the onion to the grease in the pan, together with the hot pepper, and when it begins to color add the tomato pieces, which should be well drained. Cook, stirring, for 5-6 minutes, then return the diced pancetta to the pot and heat it through. Drain the pasta while it’s still a little al dente, turn it into the skillet with the sauce, cook a minute more more, stirring the pasta to coat the strands, and serve, with grated pecorino.

La Gricia, L'Amatriciana's Ancestor

La Gricia, L’Amatriciana’s Ancestor

Several Notes:

  • First, Romans traditionally make Amatriciana sauce with Guanciale, salt-cured pork jowl. It is similar to flat pancetta, but not as lean, and therefore has a richer, more voluptuous feel to it. If you can find guanciale, by all means use it, though in its absence pancetta will work. Bacon is not a good substitute, because it is smoked and also contains sugar not present in either pancetta or guanciale.
  • Second, Amatriciana sauce derives from a much older sauce called La Gricia, which the shepherds used to make by sautéing diced guanciale so gently as to keep it from browning, and adding freshly boiled pasta, a healthy dusting of pepper, and grated pecorino Romano. The Amatriciana sauce, with tomatoes, was initially enjoyed by the nobility, because only they could afford tomatoes.
  • Third, the people of Amatrice prefer to use spaghetti in preparing their signature dish. Romans often use bucatini, which do result in a different texture, but are happy to use other shapes as well, for example the mezze maniche shown here.

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Categories: Meat Sauces For Pasta, Recipes from Rome & Lazio, Cucina Romana e Laziale, Tomatoey Pasta Sauces

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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