Amo l’alimento Romano! Pasta All’Amatriciana

by Sarah on March 30, 2010

A week or so ago, I received my brand-new copy of Saveur on the same day that I was meeting a friend for lunch. As I was walking out the door, I grabbed the magazine–thinking I could browse through it if I arrived before my friend. I did indeed arrive before her, and enjoyed looking at the photographs while sipping my coffee. One picture in particular had me entranced.  Pasta–plain and simple.

In true “ME” fashion though, I walked off without my magazine.  I went and got my hair cut and while at the hairdresser’s, I called the cafe to inquire about my magazine.  They couldn’t find it–someone must have taken it.  I was very upset about this for some reason.  I mean, c’mon a magazine?  And not even a pricey one like Meatpaper–just plain old Saveur.  I’m telling you it was that pasta, whispering in my ear

After my hair-do, OCD took over and I went back to the cafe, to scour the place.  There it was, shining like a food-dork beacon, hanging on their magazine rack.  I rescued it and went shopping.  That pasta was going to be mine.  And now, it will be yours too.

Bucatini all’amatriciana is actually a very simple pasta with guanciale or pancetta and tomato.  That’s it.

I made a quick pit-stop at Raley’s and not Corti’s, so thin-sliced pancetta was all that was available to me.  It worked fine, but I didn’t get little nuggets like you would if you were able to get the smoked pig jowl or pancetta sliced a little thicker.

Cut everything up.  Onion, carrot, garlic, pancetta.

In a bit of olive oil, cook the pancetta until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes.  Add some black pepper and cook until fragrant, another minute or two more.  Use a high-sided skillet, because all the sauce and pasta is going to have to fit in there eventually.

Increase the heat to medium high and add the carrot, onion and garlic.

After they’ve cooked until soft, add the chile flakes and cook another minute.

Next comes a big 28-oz can of pureed or crushed tomato.

Turn the heat to low and let cook for 25 minutes.

When done, the sauce will be quite thick.  Season with salt and set aside.  Keep warm.  Meanwhile, boil the pasta.  The recipe calls for bucatini, but I couldn’t find that at my local grocery so I used Barilla Thick Spaghetti.  2 boxes as opposed to Saveur’s 1 lb.

When the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the pan with the sauce.

Take about a cup of the pasta cooking water and pour it in with the pasta.

It will moisten the pasta and help the sauce cling to the noodles.

Toss in a big handful of Pecorino Romano.

Not bad, eh?  Well, except for the fact that Saveur has a pro photographer and food stylist.

I’ve now eaten this for 3 different meals and I’m not tired of it yet.

* adapted from SAVEUR, April 2010*

Pasta All’Amatriciana


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced guanciale or pancetta, cut into 3/4" pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small carrot, minced (I used 2)
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced (I used 1 whole onion)
  • 1/2 tsp red chile flakes (I used 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 28-oz can peeled tomatoes, preferrably San Marzano, undrained and pureed or crushed
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 lb bucatini or spaghetti (I used 2 lbs. thick spaghetti)
  • 1-1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano


  • Heat oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium high heat. Add pork, cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add black pepper, cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Increase heat to med-high. Add garlic, carrots and onions and cook, stirring occasionally unti soft, about 6 minutes. Add chile flakes, cook another minute. Stir in tomatoes, reduce heat to med-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and flavors meld, 20-25 minutes. Season with salt, keep warm.
  • Bring a 6-qt pot of salted water to boil, add pasta and cook until al dente, 6-8 minutes. Transfer pasta (reserving pasta water) to the skillet with the sauce. Add a cup of pasta cooking water so that the sauce thins slightly and begins to coat the noodles. Add more pasta water if necessary. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup Pecorino Romano. Divide between serving bowls, serve with remaining Pecorino.

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