This week’s region is Lazio and as part of my Regional Italian dishes, I want to share with you the recipe for Pasta all’Amatriciana, one of the most famous dishes from the region. The use of onion in this dish is optional. In fact, it is not used in the original recipe of the town of Amatrice, but it is commonly found in Rome and I like it in my sauce as it makes it a little sweeter. Also, the two most important ingredients of Amatriciana are guanciale and Pecorino Romano. I know it may be a bit difficult to find these ingredients outside of Italy, but if you do you will notice the difference. I am lucky enough to find them here, so I cannot complain, but if you absolutely cannot find guanciale you can substitute it for a good quality pancetta. This is my husband’s favourite pasta. Ever. It was also the first pasta I ever cooked for him back in the days. And I like to think that I impressed him with it… hehehe I used to make it in a slightly different way, though. A few years later, in Rome, I got the following recipe from a local and I have never looked back. It tastes delicious and exactly like the Amatriciana we used to eat in Rome. If you are ever in town, I recommend you eat at a restaurant called Il Bucatino, where we have eaten the best ever Bucatini all’Amatriciana! Besides mine, of course… hehehehe Enjoy!
Ingredients (for 4 persons):
200 gms – 7 oz. guanciale, cubed into 1 cm pieces or sliced and then chopped
500 gms – 2 cups diced tomatoes
150 gms – 5.25 oz. Pecorino Romano, finely grated
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ small onion, chopped (optional)
1 tsp chilly flakes
360 gms – 12.7 oz. bucatini (or spaghetti)
Put the cut guanciale in a non-stick pan and let it roast on the fire (1). Make sure not to burn it though. It is ready when the fat becomes transparent and slightly crunchy. Remove a few pieces and keep them aside for later.
Add the extra virgin olive oil, onion (optional) and chilly flakes (2). Sauté until the onion becomes soft and transparent (3). Now add the diced tomatoes, season with salt, mix and let it cook on a slow fire for about 15 to 20 minutes (4).
Cook the pasta following the steps on How to cook pasta “al dente” in the Techniques page of this site, but drain it 1 minute before it is cooked as it will finish cooking together with the sauce. Put the drained pasta in the frying pan with the sauce and mix it well (you may need to add a couple of tbsp of the pasta cooking water if your sauce is a bit thick). Add 4 tbsp of the grated Pecorino Romano and mix well while cooking the pasta on a slow flame for 1 or 2 minutes.
Serve hot with the crunchy pieces of guanciale that you had kept aside and a generous sprinkle of Pecorino Romano on the top.