Bucatini All’Amatriciana

Sugo all’amatriciana or alla matriciana (in Romanesco)is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (cured pork cheek), Parmigiano-Reggiano and tomatoes.  Originating from the town of Amatrice (in the mountainous Province of Rieti of Lazio region), the Amatriciana is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Roman and Italian cuisine..

While in Amatrice the dish is prepared with spaghetti, the use of bucatini has become extremely common after the recipe became popular in Rome, and is now prevalent.

Bucatini All’Amatriciana (adapted from a recipe by Anne Burrell)

Extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces guanciale, cut in 1/4-inch strips
2 large onions, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes, passed through the food mill
1 pound bucatini or perciatelli
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish

Coat a large saucepan with olive oil.  Add the guanciale and saute over low heat  until it is brown and crispy and has rendered a lot of fat.  Remove and reserve 1/3 of the guanciale for garnish.

Bring the pan to a medium heat and add the onions and crushed red pepper.  Season generously with salt, to taste.  Cook the onions until they are translucent, starting to turn golden and are very aromatic.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 1 hour, tasting periodically.  Adjust the salt, as needed.

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the instructions on the package.

Drain the pasta from the water and add to the pot of sauce.  Stir to coat with the sauce, and cook until pasta is done, about 1 minute . Add in the cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat and serve in shallow bowls garnished with cheese and the reserved guanciale.

Guanciale is a pork cheek is rubbed with salt, ground black pepper or red pepper and hung in the refrigerator to cure for three weeks.  Its flavor is stronger than other pork products such as pancetta, yet the texture is more delicate.

Sometimes difficult to source locally in the US, guanciale can be ordered online from La Quercia.