The base of Amatriciana is guanciale (pork cheek), pecorino romano cheese and tomatoes. It is a fairly simple recipe to put together and you can use pancetta as a substitute for guanciale. Dried pasta is preferred – I prefer bucatini, but spaghetti or penne are perfectly acceptable. The recipe that follows is not mine – I got inspiration from Top Chef contestant Buddha and his “marry me” pasta. This is almost completely his recipe and we absolutely loved it. It has a lot of depth and flavor and is best served piping hot. Make sure to use a pan or cast-iron skillet/enamel ware that you can stick in the oven.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 oz guanciale or pancetta
- 2 medium red shallots (finely diced)
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 (28 oz) can whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 oz finely chopped thyme
- 1 lb (16oz) bucatini
- 1 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
- Over medium heat, add guanciale or pancetta to pot and cook for 5-7 min. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a small bowl lined with a paper towel and set aside, leaving any rendered fat behind in the pot.
- Add shallots, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt to the pot, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomato paste and continue stirring constantly. Add canned tomatoes and place a lid on the pot. Then take the pot and place in a 380F oven for 45 min.
- When you pull the pot from the oven, with a crush the tomatoes with a whisk into a sauce and add the crispy guanciale back into skilled and stir into the sauce until all the ingredients are incorporated. Season with salt to taste. Keep the sauce on low simmer.
- Boil bucatini until just shy of al dente. Using a large, slotted spoon transfer the pasta directly into the skillet and toss with the sauce and mix. Reserve a little pasta water to work into the sauce as needed until pasta is creamy and coated.
- Serve with finely grated pecorino, red pepper flakes and a splash of olive oil.