Pasta all' Amatriciana

Amatriciana is a simple, delicious sauce you can make while the water for your pasta is boiling! Move over regular old ragu because this savory porky tomato sauce is my favorite go-to winter sugo (pasta sauce)!  For centuries it has been prepared with guanciale di maiale (cured pigs cheek) and grated local pecornio (sheep’s milk cheese).  The sauce is originally from Amatrice (at the intersection between Le Marche, Abruzzo and Lazio). Of course the recipe varies slightly depending on what region you are in, a big debate is with onions or without. While tomato-less version Gricia is still prepared in some parts (especially Lazio), it is the tomato-enriched Amatriciana that has become a “classic” sauce all over Italy.

For any of you that know Dr. Gaggi & his wife Rossana she always reiterates the importance of the pasta you choose with your sauce. "For amatriciana, you should use only bucatini or spaghetti no. 5!" She would be horrified to see the photo above since we tossed the sauce with fresh homemade tagliatelle - call the pasta police! (I still ate every last bite.)

I am a huge fan of guanciale di maiale (so much so I sing a song about it every time Jason uses it in a recipe), it is basically the best bacon ever! Here is another mouthwatering recipe using cured pig's cheek as a simple antipasto/appetizer:  Crostini di Guanciale di Maiale

 Amatriciana with Bucatini

 Amatriciana with Bucatini

4 oz./120 g cured pig's cheek (guanciale di maiale) or fresh pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic
glug of olive oil
12 oz./325 g puree tomatoes (freshest, highest quality as possible) or jarred tomatoes passed through the food mill
grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
chili flakes
bucatini or spaghetti pasta

In a heavy pot heat the olive oil, add the clove of garlic & onions on low heat season with salt & chili flakes as you like. Sweat slowly without color for 10 minutes.
Add guanciale or pancetta cook for an additional 5 - 6 minutes without browning.
Remove garlic clove & add tomatoes. Bring up to boil, then lower the heat to a slow simmer for 30-35 minutes. Stir occasionally. Check seasonings.
Toss with fresh cooked pasta (bucatini is best) & fresh grated pecorino or parmesan and a little pasta water.

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