By Michelle Fabio
This is a simple pasta dish that comes from a town called Amatrice just outside of Rome, Italy.
Traditionalists will say to make it with just guanciale (cured pig jowl), tomatoes, cheese, and pasta (often bucatini).
What follows, though, is the way we make Amatriciana in my house since even here in southern Italy guanciale isn’t always easy to find. As you’ll see, we also add olive oil, onion, garlic, and parsley, but really no matter which recipe you follow, this is one great, simple, stick-to-your-ribs pasta dish.
And the tomatoes always shine.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
100 grams pancetta arrotolata,
unrolled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 can peeled tomatoes
500 grams penne pasta
water and salt to boil pasta
grated pecorino romano cheese to garnish
First put on the water to boil for the pasta, and then chop all your ingredients as described above.
Put olive oil in skillet and heat on medium. Add pancetta, and let cook for about five minutes, until the pancetta renders its fat.
Then add the onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and parsley and let cook for another minute or so.
At this point, your water should be boiling, and you can add salt and the pasta to the water.
Now add the tomatoes to the skillet. You can run them through a grinder or roughly chop them first depending on how you like them. You can also add some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce a bit (about 1/4 cup).
Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes taste done to you. You can add salt, but do so sparingly because the pancetta is salty and you’ve also added salted pasta water.
When the pasta is just short of al dente, remove, strain, and combine well with the completely cooked sauce, still over medium heat.
Once the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce and become fully al dente, remove and serve immediately. Garnish with grated pecorino romano cheese.
You can read more about this dish in the New York Times article The Meat of the Matter in a Pasta Debate.