There are so many fantastic classic pastas from Italy. Some of my favorites are pizzoccheri, cacio e pepe, and this recipe for bucatini all‘amatriciana. The best part of this pasta? The guanciale, a cured pork, renders down to crispy bits and the fat left behind makes the tomato sauce intensely flavorful. Plus, I love the toothsome bite of the thick bucatini wrapped in rich tomato sauce. Aromatics like garlic and onion aren’t traditional, but I like my sauce a little sweet, so I added onions here.
This comforting pasta is unique enough to impress dinner party guests and easy enough to feed your busy family.
I make a double batch of sauce and freeze it for another day.
The Delicious Origins
According to Italy Magazine, amatriciana sauce comes from Amatrice, Italy, where the sauce was simply guanciale, Pecorino cheese, and fresh tomatoes. There are many regional variations of this recipe. For example, dried chiles were in the original recipe, making the sauce spicy, but tomatoes weren’t always used. The dish made its way to Rome, located in the same region called Lazio, and it has since been embraced as Roman cuisine.
Three Essential Ingredients
Guanciale: What makes this dish unique is the guanciale. It’s a fatty cured pork often seasoned with fresh herbs and spices. Ask your butcher or look for it at your local grocery store where the cured meats are. In a pinch, use pancetta or bacon.
The key to cooking guanciale is to let it render low and slow to help soften the fat. If it’s not cooked enough, it will be tough and chewy. The guanciale is cooked first and then the onions are caramelized in the rendered pork fat. White wine is added and cooked until reduced, creating a thick and rich sauce.
Bucatini: It’s a long tubular pasta that looks like a thicker spaghetti with a hole through the center. If you don’t have bucatini, use spaghetti.
Canned tomatoes: Use San Marzano tomatoes—they are the best variety of canned tomatoes for this pasta. It has the perfect balance of sweetness, acidity, and body. I recommend crushed tomatoes, but feel free to buy whole tomatoes and crush them to your desired consistency.
Storing Leftovers and Reheating
I recommend serving the pasta right away since it tends to dry out and overcook if reheated.
Store leftovers for no more than 3 days in the fridge and up to 2 weeks in the freezer. If freezing the pasta, make sure to thaw it before reheating, adding a little liquid as needed. You can do this in a skillet over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
More Classic Pastas We Love
1 pound dry bucatini
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces guanciale, small dice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large yellow onion, small dice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine, like Pinot Gris or Chardonnay
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley, for serving
Cook the pasta:
Bring a large pot of water (about 4 quarts) with a generous amount of salt to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente following package instructions.
As soon as you set the pot of water to boil, start the sauce. That way, the pasta will be cooked by the time the sauce is ready. You can then transfer the cooked pasta directly into the sauce without having to drain it.
Start the sauce:
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and once it’s hot (rippling, but not smoking) add the guanciale. Cook until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the crispy guanciale into a small bowl and set it aside. There will be residual fat left in the pan. Don’t discard it. Cook the onions in them.
Cook the onions:
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the red pepper flakes and toast them for about 1 minute. Add the onions, salt, and black pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
Add the wine:
Pull the pan off the heat and carefully add the white wine. Return the pan back to the stove top, increase the heat to high heat, and cook until the alcohol has burned off, about 5 minutes. The wine should be reduced by about three quarters.
Add the tomato:
Pour in the tomatoes and simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes until the raw tomato flavor cooks off and the sauce reduces just a tiny bit. Stir in the cooked guanciale. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper.
Add the pasta:
Use tongs to add the cooked bucatini into the sauce and toss to evenly coat. Remove the pan from the heat. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup Pecorino and toss to coat.
Serve the pasta with parsley and more cheese sprinkled on top.
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Slowly reheat on the stove top over medium-low heat with a little bit of water, if necessary.
Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below!
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 27g||35%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||47%|
|Total Carbohydrate 32g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||10%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 8mg||40%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|