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This Easy Amatriciana Recipe Will Transport You to Italy

A classic Roman pasta with minimal ingredients and maximal impact.

<p>Carlo A/Getty Images</p>

Carlo A/Getty Images

Amatriciana is one of the classic Roman pastas, along with cacio e pepe, carbonara, and gricia. These four pastas are in heavy rotation in Rome, and are subject to much debate over how to make the best version of each one. Today, we’re focusing on Amatriciana, which comes from the town of Amatrice. The beauty of Rome’s classic pastas is their simplicity — minimal ingredients, maximal impact. Amatriciana is no exception; its essential ingredients are guanciale (cured pork cheek), pecorino Romano cheese, and tomato. There are, however, endless variations on the classic Amatriciana, including the addition of onion, garlic, chili flakes, and so forth. However you make your Amatriciana, the final product should have a complex, savory flavor, balanced with tangy sweetness from the tomatoes.

Related: 20+ Types of Pasta Noodles Everyone Should Know

Bucatini (long, tubed noodles) is the typical pasta shape for Amatriciana. As cookbook author Marcella Hazan writes in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Amatriciana and bucatini “are as indivisible as Romeo and Juliet.” With that said, we give you permission to play around with the pasta shape; the dish will be delicious no matter what. Conchiglie, or shells, are an untraditional but delicious substitute, catching the sauce and bits of guanciale inside them.

Amatriciana Recipe

There are many ways to prepare Amatriciana, and this recipe is just one of them. Here, we’ve kept things simple, with a pinch of dried chili flakes for some gentle heat. If you can’t find guanciale, substitute pancetta or bacon; it won’t be the same, but it’ll still provide the salty, fatty component that’s essential in Amatriciana. Many versions of Amatriciana include onion and garlic, but this version highlights the pure flavors of the guanciale and tomatoes

Related: 35 Perfect Pasta Recipes You'll Want to Make for Dinner Tonight (and Every Night)

Ingredients:

  • Salt

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 4 ounces guanciale, sliced into ½-inch strips

  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes

  • Pinch of dried chili flakes

  • Black pepper

  • 1 pound pasta (preferably bucatini)

  • ½ cup pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated, plus more for serving


Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt the water generously.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add guanciale and cook until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes.

  3. Pour the tomatoes into the skillet. Season with a pinch of salt, a pinch of dried chili flakes, and several grinds of black pepper.

  4. Cook until the tomatoes taste sweet and have reduced to a thick, jammy texture, about 15-20 minutes.

  5. Midway through the tomatoes’ cooking process, add pasta to boiling water and cook until almost al dente, but not quite. While the pasta cooks, add 1 cup of pasta water to the tomato mixture and stir to combine.

  6. Drain pasta and add it to the skillet. Over medium-high heat, vigorously stir and toss the pasta to coat the noodles in an emulsified tomato sauce, adding more pasta water if it starts to look dry.

  7. Turn off the heat and add cheese, tossing it into the pasta.

  8. Serve with more pecorino Romano and black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. 

Related: 8 Pasta Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Meal

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