Bucatini all’Amatriciana

According to tradition the name of this pasta dish derives from Amatrice, a small town 160km from Rome.  Shepherds wanted to take simple ingredients with them when they went out to tend their flock, such as cheese, pepper & pasta.  To this they would add guanciale when they had the opportunity, hence the pasta dish called ‘Gricia’ was created.  Adding tomato evolved the dish to Amatriciana.  Take note though, there are no onions or garlic in this recipe.

Tragically the town of Amatrice was destroyed in an earthquake that occurred during the night of 23/24 August  2016, reducing the town to rubble.  Amatrice celebrated  ‘Amatriciana’ every year and the earthquake hit the week before the town was about to celebrate the 50th annual Amatriciana festival.  In Amatrice this pasta dish is integral to the town’s heritage.  Eataly held the Amatriciana festival for Amatrice this year, and many restaurants throughout Italy donated money from every Amatriciana sold to assist in the aftermath from the earthquake devastation.  

If you’re looking for a perfect comfort food pasta dish, look no further.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

  • 500g Bucatini
  • 600g peeled ripe Tomatoes (or 2 cans polpa al pomodoro – tomato pulp)
  • 250g Guanciale (cured pork jowl, Not pancetta)
  • 150g Pecorino Romano cheese, grated finely
  • 1 fresh red Chilli pepper, chopped
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • black pepper
  1. Remove the hard skin from the guanciale, and slice it in half length wise, and then in strips.
  2. Add guanciale to a frying pan and allow to cook until golden and crispy.  Pay attention it doesn’t burn.
  3. Meanwhile, add tomatoes to a heavy saucepan with a generous splash of olive oil.  Add chilli pepper (quantity depending how hot you like your pasta sauce).  Add guanciale and fat from frying pan to tomatoes. (keep aside a little guanciale for garnishing pasta later.  Cook with lid on for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil.  Add salt and the add bucatini. Cook for a minute less than stated on packet.       
  5. Drain pasta and return to saucepan.  Add sauce and half pecorino romano cheese.  Stir vigorously to combine pasta with sauce and cheese.
  6. Serve immeditately with a sprinkling of pecorino romani, and freshly cracked black pepper.
  7. Accompany pasta with some crusty rustic Italian style bread to mop up that sauce!