Pasta all’amatriciana

 

One of the great classics of Italian cooking, the pasta all’amatriciana (meaning ‘the way it is done in Amatrice’, which is a small town in the province of Rieti, near Roma) is a very simple recipe deriving from the even simpler gricia, a typical food of local shepherds. Gricia was pasta with jowl bacon and pecorino cheese, made with sheep milk. In late Eighteenth century the increased commercial contacts between Amatrice and Roma led to some culinary exchange, and the current version of this dish was born. As it often happens with Italian food the only trick to a good pasta all’amatriciana is to choose fresh, high quality ingredients and not settle for some poor imitation. By the way, if you really want to go native you should use square-section spaghetti and not the bucatini pasta that even Italians commonly use with this sauce, as Amatrice is officially known as “the town of spaghetti”.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 100g jowl bacon
  • 350g tomato sauce
  • 75g pecorino cheese
  • 50ml white wine
  • 1 red chili pepper
  • 1 table spoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper

 

 

Preparation

 

Refer to this site to cook the spaghetti the right way. While they’re getting ready, remove the outer skin from the bacon, cut the rest into small slices or cubes and fry it along with the diced red pepper in a pan coated with the oil. As soon as the bacon fat becomes transparent add the wine and keep cooking until it has completely evaporated. Remove the bacon from the pan, but keep the molten fat: you want to cook the tomato sauce with it. When the pasta is ready drain it and drop into the pan with the sauce; add the bacon and stir it all together on the fire for less than a minute. Kill the flame, grate lots of cheese over the spaghetti, mix again and sprinkle with black pepper. That’s it, really – but if you want to cheat a little we suggest to add one small diced onion to the first fry: you won’t regret it!