Amatriciana pasta recipe (Pasta all’Amatriciana) is a famous first course of Roman trattorias and restaurants, originally born in Amatrice, a small town in the district of Rieti. The ingredients are basically four: red pepper, pecorino romano, guanciale and peeled tomatoes.
Other ingredients, such as garlic and onion, are not present in the authentic Amatriciana pasta recipe but are present in the recipe of the district of Rome. In addition, the type of pasta used in the Amatriciana sauce born in Amatrice is spaghetti, while bucatini (that are nothing more than very thick spaghetti holed in the center) are typical of the area of Rome.
Wanting to respect the traditional recipe of pasta all’Amatriciana, in this recipe we’ll use just spaghetti, pecorino romano, guanciale, red pepper and peeled tomatoes. According to tradition, remember that the right ratio between guanciale and pasta is a quarter: therefore, for 500 grams of pasta, you need 125 grams of guanciale.
Some people prefer to sauté the guanciale for a few minutes and then add the white wine. There is in the list as an ingredient but it’s optional; it’s not essential for the success of the recipe so it depends on the tastes.
Together with Carbonara pasta, Amatriciana sauce, despite being a typical recipe of Lazio, has become a classic of Italian cuisine.
Amatriciana Pasta Recipe
- 80 g (3 oz) of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 red pepper
- 50 ml dry white wine (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- fine and coarse salt
1) – You’ll need a rather large pan to make Amatriciana sauce. So first of all cut guanciale into strips. The dark part of guanciale, which you see in the picture, is rich in pepper and spices and should not be throwaway. It gives the sauce a very tasty flavor so keep it. Then heat the red pepper in a little oil and add the guanciale.
2) – Sauté the guanciale, turning it often with a wooden spoon, until the white fat part has become transparent and golden (about 5 min). Now is the time to add the white wine (optional). Keep the high heat and let it evaporate. Meantime keep ready with peeled tomatoes. You can find many types of canned tomatoes but San Marzano variety are the best choice for this recipe.
3) – Now add peeled tomatoes with their sauce, stir, then cook Amatriciana sauce for 10 minutes on medium heat. Add salt to taste.
4) – When the sauce is ready, remove the red pepper and keep the sauce aside. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in plenty of salted water, following the cooking times specified on the package. A good bronze drawn pasta or durum wheat semolina would be optimal; it would be a pity to spoil the dish with a poor quality pasta. So be careful what type of pasta you are going to choose. Drain spaghetti al dente and pour them into the pan with Amatriciana sauce. Stir and add grated pecorino romano which will bind all the ingredients. Even for pecorino cheese, choose the best one. Do not make recipes with poor ingredients because you will get poor recipes.
5) – Now traditional Amatriciana pasta recipe is ready. Serve very hot with a further sprinkling of pecorino romano.
Amatriciana Pasta Recipe: History and Curiosities
Amatriciana pasta recipe in the beginning was without tomato that only around 1600 was imported from America and began to appear in Italian recipes. Nowadays, the “white” version of this famous pasta recipe is called pasta alla Gricia or Grascia (from Grisciano, another little town near Amatrice).
Centuries ago, many shepherds who lived in the mountains of Amatrice, brought in their saddlebags the necessary ingredients for its preparation: pieces of guanciale, pecorino cheese, red hot pepper and dried pasta.
The secret behind a perfect Amatriciana pasta recipe is the fat, the white and slightly pink part of guanciale, which is the main and most important ingredient.
Amatriciana Pasta Variations
Every traditional recipe has many variations, and this happens also for the traditional recipe of Amatriciana pasta, in which the variations are characterized by the addition or replacement of the ingredients according to the traditions of the different Italian regions or simply to your tastes.
- Amatriciana without tomatoes: many people like cooking Amatriciana sauce without tomatoes. This dish in Italy is called Pasta alla Gricia or Griscia from the name of Grisciano, a village near Amatrice. It can be done but it’s another recipe for another time.
- Amatriciana with Parmesan in place of Pecorino Romano: some people want parmesan in place of pecorino romano or half parmesan and half pecorino romano. In this case the flavour becomes less strong and tasty (pecorino Romano is a very tasty cheese). It depends on the tastes and the possibility of finding the ingredients. Anyway not bad.
- Amatriciana with pancetta: the guanciale, which comes from the pig’s cheek, can be replaced by pancetta, which comes from the fat part of the belly’s pork. Pancetta (not smoked) is less flavorful then guanciale but it’s not a bad choice after all.
- Amatriciana with bacon: same as above, possibly not smoked…but we can’t ask for the impossible
- Amatriciana with garlic or onion: many people like to cook guanciale with a clove of garlic or a small onion. This is used a lot in Rome and surroundings. The traditional recipe does’t want any of them so, in the ends, it’s up to you.
- Types of pasta: there are even different opinions on the type of pasta: in addition to spaghetti, Amarticiana pasta is excellent with bucatini. Bucatini all’Amatriciana is a famous dish in Rome but the authentic recipe born in Amatrice is made with spaghetti. So now the choice is yours 😉