Amatriciana pasta: spaghetti, penne, bucatini-it is just an instant! Pasta shape is not an essential issue! From bacon to guanciale: it takes a while. Pasta Amatriciana is named after the village of Amatrice, near Rieti in Lazio. It is quite easy to prepare, but it tastes delicious-full of flavors, everyone at you table will enjoy it!
What does amatriciana mean in Italian?
The genuine amatriciana recipe dates back to Roman times, but the first records go back to the 20s. Of course, it was not the same as the modern one: the ingredients and the way the guanciale was cut made the difference. One of the most ancient recipes wanted the guanciale to be chopped and stir fried with lard and onion; nowadays no other fat is added.
Rome and Amatrice have been competing for the paternity of the recipe for long time. In her guidebook, Ada Boni, a famous Italian gourmet, acknowledges it as a typical dish from Rome’s culinary tradition, as, at the beginning of the 20th century it was popular among the customers of its “trattorie” (typical local restaurants). According to her researchers, the name is due to the use of the guanciale from Amatrice, which was the best one on the market.
In November 2019, the European Committee accepted and published the request for registration the recipe under the Traditional Speciality Guarantee scheme in the Official Journal of the European Union to protect it from the Italian sounding phenomenon.
Actually, Amatrice was recognized as the birth place of one of the most famous Italian dishes which was varied by adding tomato sauce in the early years of the 19th century.
Let’s look for the right ingredients
Perfect amatriciana wants perfect ingredients: highest-quality ingredients make a high-quality dish. A good guanciale, the ultimate is the one from Amatrice, of course (well, you may not find it outside Italy, anyway look for the best), tasty sweet Pecorino cheese are essential, definitely. You may choose fresh tomatoes, or canned peeled ones…again: uppermost quality.
Red hot chili pepper: it is up to you, according to your taste, more or less hot!
What pasta shape is best paired with amatriciana?
What the difference among pasta shapes? Why one is better than another? It is a matter of personal taste, that’s all-someone likes short, someone else long pasta! Both shapes fit this recipe for different reasons: long pasta gets creamy and embracing; whereas, sauce is wonderfully trapped inside short pasta; what a wonderful surprise when you find a piece of flavorful guanciale in a “penna”. Bucatino with amatriciana is the ultimate couple. Bucatino is a long hollow type of pasta made of durum wheat flour; it is thicker than spaghetti but it takes about the same time to be done as the water goes through its cavity during the cooking. Although, you can choose the pasta to your tastes, nothing combines better with amatriciana than bucatini- when something matches perfectly with something else, people from Rome say “E’ la morte sua” ! I can’t translate it into English. Bucatini grabs the sauce, the fat of the guanciale makes it super creamy. Rolling bucatini around your fork- a delicious pleasure. Two parties have been debating for ages: bucatini or rigatoni? That’s the question! Rich, solid, toothsome rigatone usually ranks second in the amatriciana race, but those who look for the genuine recipe can’t do without it because it literally drowns in the sauce. Al dente is best enjoyed! Moreover, as every short pasta shape, it needs less sauce. At last, but not the least, penne! So adaptable!
Pancetta, bacon or guanciale: what is the difference?
Pancetta (unsmoked bacon) featured by a quite thick layer of lard and little meat, is made from pork belly. It is cured with salt, and according to the local traditions with spices or aromatics. It can be consumed fresh or ripened. Bacon is cured and smoked pancetta.
Guanciale is what you need for the genuine amatriciana. It is cured meat from 9 month older pork jowl and checks. It is matured at least 3 months until the superficial layer turns into a dry flavorful crust. It is richer in calories, spicier and more compact than pancetta.
Pasta amatriciana, garlic or onion?
Neither of the two, wine and hot chili pepper guarantee plenty of flavor. Neither garlic nor onion in the modern recipe. You don’t think a few ingredients can result in a super fast dish, do you? A simple method and good products make the difference. Of course, you may add garlic and onion, but this is not the genuine amatriciana. Guanciale must have the leading role in the show: don’t spoil its taste with garlic and onion.
Pasta all’amatriciana, pancetta or guanciale?
You can’t joke around that in Italy: amatriciana does not want pancetta. It is in the name itself as the main ingredients is guanciale from Amatrice. Of course, pancetta can replace guanciale if you can find it where you live, it will be a very toothsome…Amatrice scented pasta!
A few hints to follow and all the mistakes you mustn’t make for the perfect amatriciana:
- Remove the peppered skin of the guanciale because it releases a bitter taste when cooked;
- Do not any more oil or fat;
- Brown the guanciale over medium heat not to burn it;
- When its fat melts, remove to avoid any “fried effects”;
- Sauté the guanciale until crispy;
- Add the wine only to the fat; the guanciale will be crunchier;
- Neither Parmigiano Reggiano, nor Grana Padano: amatriciana is a rustic dish from the rural areas between Lazio and Abruzzo where only Pecorino cheese is consumed (if you can’t find it in your place you may grate Italian matured cheese);
- Remove the pan from the heat and then add the Pecorino which will bind all the ingredients in toothsome cream.
The genuine recipe for the perfect “bucatini all’amatriciana”
- 320 gr
spaghetti, bucatini, penne or rigatoni
- 80 gr
dry white wine
- 300 gr
canned peeled tomatoes, or fresh very ripe and scented tomatoes
red chili pepper and chili flakes, to taste
- 70 gr
grated Pecorino cheese
Extra ingredient: a little extra virgin olive oil in case the tomatoes sauce gets too dry
coarse and fine salt
- With a sharp knife remove the peppered skin from the guanciale and cut it into 1/2cm stripes;
- Cut the red pepper into halves: remove the stem, the seeds and the veins, slice it thinly;
- In an iron (preferably) pan, put the chili pepper and the guanciale (the ratio is 1:4, guanciale:pasta);
- Sauté the guanciale until the fat gets transparent and melts;
- Once the fat has melted, collect it in a cup;
- When the guanciale gets golden, remove it and keep aside, so it will keep soft and juicy;
- Put the melted fat back in the pan and simmer with white wine until reduced;
- Add the tomatoes to the pan (sliced and peeled if you have opted for fresh ones);
- Season with salt and simmer until it thickens (it it dries too much, add a little extra virgin olive oil and reduce the heat to low);
- Remove the chili pepper and put the guanciale back to the pan; simmer on medium heat and stir well for a few minutes;
- In the meanwhile, cook pasta al dente in plenty of salted water;
- Drain and pour it onto a serving bowl; add the pecorino;
- Wait for a few seconds and put the sauce onto;
- Toss evenly and add some chili flakes to your taste;
- Eat up all amatriciana: you can’t store it in the fridge!