It’s easy to make of one of Italy’s most famous pasta dishes!
With just a few key ingredients (tomatoes, guanciale, Pecorino Romano, black pepper and eggs), it is possible to make all four of Rome’s classic pasta dishes – cacio e pepe, spaghetti alla Carbonara, bucatini all’Amatriciana and pasta alla Gricia. Amatriciana is the only sauce that involves tomatoes so it’s also the most colourful. I’ve taken a few liberties with the very minimalist Amatriciana sauces you will likely find in Rome, and elsewhere in Italy, by adding garlic, onions and a little white wine. Guanciale is cured pork cheek or jowl and the fat that renders out as you cook it adds a tremendous amount of flavour to this sauce; many delis will carry this but pancetta or bacon can be used instead. Bucatini is the traditional pasta served with this sauce but spaghetti (regular or gluten-free) is a good substitute.
- 7 ounces (200g) guanciale
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
- 14 oz (400mL) can San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) white wine
- 1 lb (454 g) bucatini or spaghetti
- Salt and black pepper
- Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, to serve (or Parmesan)
- If the guanciale still has the skin on, use a thin sharp knife to remove it and discard. Cut guanciale into small pieces using a very sharp knife. Heat a large frypan on medium-low and cook the guanciale for around 8-10 minutes, until the fat has rendered out and the meat is beginning to get crispy.
- While the guanciale is cooking, transfer the tomatoes, juice and all, to a large bowl. With your very clean hands, crush them, removing any fibrous bits.
- Add the onion and garlic to the cooked guanciale. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes until onions have softened, stirring often to prevent them from browning (reduce heat if needed).
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, red pepper flakes and white wine to the pan. Stir to blend then simmer for 8-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.
- While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in 2 teaspoons (10 mL) of salt then add the pasta and cook until just tender (al dente). Use large tongs to transfer the cooked pasta directly into the frying pan with the sauce and toss gently to coat the noodles.
- To serve, portion out the pasta into four pasta dishes (broad soup bowls work well). Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and a generous amount of grated Pecorino.