One of the Holy Trinity of Roman Pasta dishes – Amatiriciana seems at times to play second, even third, fiddle to the ever-popular Carbonara and Cacio Pepe. A crime, as Amatriciana may be the greatest of all. An unctuous lightly spiced tomato sauce simmered with Cured pork, a little wine and a mountain of pecorino – it’s the stuff pasta enthusiasts dream of.
Traditionally, Amatriciana is made using Guanciale – cured pork jowl famed for its full, fatty flavour. Whilst Guanciale can be found in good Italian delis or supermarkets, it is not the most widely available ingredient and so we have chosen to substitute Pancetta in its place – a widely accepted practice. We have also chosen to omit the chilli flakes the recipe calls for replacing it instead with ‘Nduja. The spiced Calabrian salami brings the requisite heat the sauce requires whilst also adding a deeper, meatier flavour to the dish, boosting the flavour of the pancetta to compete even with guanciale.
Try it for yourself – it will become a new favourite.
200g Dried Bucatini
THE AMATRICIANA SAUCE
100g Pancetta, cubed
½ an Onion, finely diced
1 Small Garlic Clove, minced
½ 400g Tin of Peeled Plum Tomatoes, or 2–3 plum tomatoes, skins removed
50ml Dry White Wine
50g Pecorino, finely grated
Generous Pinch of Salt & Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Parsley, a few leaves
Pecorino, finely grated
THE AMATRICIANA SAUCE
- Place a large pan over a low heat and add the cubed pancetta into the dry pan. Gradually increase the heat to the pan as the fat renders out of the pancetta until the pan has reached a medium-high heat and the pancetta is sizzling and starting to crisp.
- Add the onion into the pan, you may need to add a splash of olive oil, and cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to colour. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
- Using either your hands or a vegetable mill, break up the tomatoes and then add to the pan, along with any juice, and mix together. Break the ‘Nduja into small chunks and add to the pan. Reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
TIP – You should cook the Bucatini, according to it’s cooking instructions, whilst the sauce is simmering.
COOKING THE PASTA
- Cook the Bucatini in heavily salted water according to the cooking instructions until al dente. Likely about 10 minutes.
SERVING THE AMATRICIANA
- Making sure to retain some of the cooking water, drain the Bucatini and add to the pan with a splash of the pasta water.
TIP – I usually remove a few ladles of pasta water into a bowl before draining the pasta to ensure a good amount of the cooking water is retained.
- Add the grated pecorino to the pan and mix through the pasta and sauce until the pasta is entirely coated. You may need to add a splash more of the cooking water to ensure a loose and glossy sauce. Season to taste.
- Serve immediately with an extra grating of pecorino and a few leaves of parsley.