The regional dishes are often a matter of dispute among Italians, whether they are professional chefs or amateur chefs, and Spaghetti all’Amatriciana are no exception! Bucatini or spaghetti, pancetta or guanciale, garlic or onion … these are the main questions that anyone who is preparing to cook for the first time this recipe has to face. It is said that this famous dish was born in the town of Amatrice (near Rome) and was the main meal of the shepherds, but originally it was without tomato and took the name of Gricia; this ingredient was added later when the tomatoes were imported from the Americas and the condiment took the name Amatriciana. It is therefore normal for such an ancient and popular recipe to be transformed over time in many variations that are still being discussed today.
In a pan – preferably made of iron – place the oil, hot chili pepper and guanciale (cheek lard) cut into little pieces; the proportion of one-fourth, compared to the amount of pasta, is traditional and sacred for the experts.
Brown the ingredients over a high flame. Add the wine. Remove the pieces of guanciale from the pan, let them drip dry and set them aside, keeping them hot if possible; this way, they won’t become too dry and salty, but rather remain soft and tasty.
Add the tomatoes cut in strips and with the seeds removed (it’s best to blanch them first, so it will be easy to remove the skin and then cut them). Adjust for salt, mix, and place them over the flame for a few minutes.
Remove the chili pepper, put the pieces of guanciale back in, and mix the sauce again.
In the meantime, boil the pasta in abundant salt water, making sure it’s cooked al dente. Strain it well and put it into a bowl, adding the grated pecorino. Wait a few seconds and then pour on the sauce.
Mix everything together and prepare more pecorino on the side for those who want it.
Spaghetti all'Amatriciana can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day at most. Freezing is not recommended.
If you have to cook Amatriciana for many people you can try a short size pasta such as “mezzi rigatoni” which will take the consistency better.
You may try to use water instead of wine to simmer the guanciale.