This is another one of those favorite tried and true recipes of mine. Frankly, the first time I tried Amatriciana I was in Miami, and how far from the reality it was. The best Amatriciana I have ever had, is obviously, in Rome. Hands down unbelievable. That trip to Rome sealed my fate forever, because my daughter learned what a good Amatriciana and a good Carbonara was……so mom better learn how to perfect them quick, cause boy, she’s a food snob if there ever is one!
As many Italian dishes, it has dubious origins, some say the Swiss canton of Grisons, some say Amatrice…..and also, there is the onions/no onions? Chili pepper/no Chili pepper? I prepare it the way the Romans do.
Chili Pepper, one of these beauties that I brought back from Napoli
And the other key ingredient, Guanciale (cured pork cheek). Not bacon my friends, guanciale is the stuff of Gods. If you’re not vegetarian that is. Then it’s devil’s speak.
As you see, there is a lot more fat on pork cheek. I mean, if you think about it, no one ever does cheek workouts……except for when we eat, so I guess that’s why there’s that teeny sliver of non fatty meat, for chewing effort.
And, I do use onions. Only a bit, but that is how the Romans prepare it. There is also a debate on what type of fat, olive oil, or lard? Well, if you’re not afraid of it, go ahead and lard it up! I do, it gives it a damn incredible pork-y taste, and hell, you’re not going to eat this everyday, so give your diet a break and eat some fat!
That said, it is a very very easy dish to prepare. The beauty is in the simplicity of the ingredients. The best tomatoes, the best guanciale, and of course, Pecorino Romano! Don’t be putting on the northern neighbor Parmigiano, or some Roman might come flying into your kitchen and scream “ ti spacco la faccia!!! ” *
So, if you are so inclined, here’s what you’re going to need!
100g Guanciale, sliced or diced
1 small onion, minced
1 chili pepper, chopped
1/2 tbsp pork fat or olive oil
450g crushed tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste
400g Bucatini Pasta
Grated Pecorino Romano
In a large sauté pan, place the guanciale, onion and chili pepper, and pork fat or olive oil over medium high heat. Cook until the onion is translucent, and the guanciale is golden. Add the tomatoes, salt, and lower the heat to a simmer.
Bring the water for the pasta to boil. Cook the pasta to 2 minutes before package directions. Strain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the boiling water. Add the Bucatini and the water to the sauté pan where you have the sauce, and turn up the heat to medium. Cook, tossing the bucatini with the sauce until it coats it all evenly.
Serve with the freshly grated pecorino and pepper.
From my kitchen to yours,
* That in Italian means, I smacka you face!