Spaghetti all’Amatriciana

The pasta sauce “Amatriciana” comes from the town of Amatrice, on the border of Lazio and Abruzzo. In Amatrice they serve it over spaghetti, and that’s what I have done. This dish has been taken over by the Romans, and they serve it over bucatini (thick hollow spaghetti). The original version is now called Spaghetti alla Gricia or all’Amatriciana bianca (white Amatriciana) and does not have tomatoes, because tomatoes were not available in Italy (or anywhere else in Europe) before they were imported from the Americas. The original Amatriciana or Gricia calls for guanciale (cured pork jowl), but that is hard to obtain outside of Italy so you can also use pancetta (cured pork belly), preferably with more fat than lean meat. Since this is a recipe from Lazio, it is more traditional to use pecorino romano rather than parmigiano reggiano.

Like most Italian cooking, this dish is as simple to make as it is delicious.

Ingredients

For 4 servings

350 grams (3/4 pound) spaghetti

100 grams (4 oz) guanciale or pancetta, diced

1 can (400 grams/14 oz) canned tomatoes, chopped

8 Tbsp freshly grated pecorino romano

dried hot chile pepper to taste

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 glass (100 ml) dry white wine

salt

freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the spaghetti.

Meanwhile, sauté the guanciale or pancetta with crumbled dried chile pepper to taste in a frying pan in the olive oil until slightly colored but not crisped.

Add the wine and continue to cook to let the wine evaporate.

Add the chopped tomatoes. Cook over low heat, stirring now and then.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti al dente according to package instructions.

The sauce is done when it is no longer watery.

Add the drained spaghetti to the sauce, together with half the freshly grated pecorino and some freshly ground black pepper. Toss to mix.

Serve on warm plates with the remaining grated pecorino.

Wine pairing

Good with a dry but fruity Italian white or Italian rosé.

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