I’m not sure why I hadn’t made this classic pasta sauce before … I love tomato, cheese and all things quick and easy. Perhaps it’s because guanciale (cured pork cheek) can be tricky to find … so when I discovered Salumi Australia’s guanciale in my local Harris Farm, I had no excuse. Amatrice, for which the sauce is named, is a mountain town about 2 hours west of Rome. Before tomatoes were introduced to Italy, locals simply dressed spaghetti with sheep cheese and guanciale. This ‘in bianco’ sauce called alla gricia, is still popular in central Italy; meanwhile, the version with tomato and hollow bucatini has become a typical dish of modern Roman cuisine. Regardless of where it’s made, a good pecorino is essential, Amatrice has its own, while in Rome and Australia it’s authentic Pecorino Romano. Enjoy it with a glass of complex, savoury Dal Zotto La Nebbia Col Fondo naturally sparkling nebbiolo, and take a vicarious Roman holiday!
Serves 6 as an entrée
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil,
plus extra for drizzling
- 125g guanciale, diced (see FAQ below)
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine
- Pinch dried chilli flakes
- 400g canned Italian tomatoes, crushed
- 500g bucatini (see FAQ below)
- Salt, for pasta water
- 100g freshly grated Pecorino Romano
(see FAQ below)
- Heat oil in a large saucepan, add guanciale and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes or so, until it’s coloured and crisp.
- Add wine and boil for a minute or so until the alcohol evaporates.
- Stir in chilli flakes then tomato, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
- Meanwhile, add the bucatini to plenty of boiling salted water.
- When it’s just al dente, use tongs to transfer the pasta to the sauce, reserving the cooking water.
- Add about two-thirds of the pecorino and toss to coat well, adding a little cooking water if needed to give a creamy consistency.
- Serve topped with remaining pecorino and a drizzle of olive oil.
What is bucatini?
Bucatini, a pasta that’s like hollow spaghetti, adds a unique texture to this dish. It can be a little hard to find; Barilla’s is available in some delis and specialty stores. Use spaghettoni (thick spaghetti) as an alternative.
What is guanciale? How do you use guanciale?
Guanciale, cured pork cheek, is worth seeking out; Salumi Australia’s is available from Harris Farm Markets and good delis. Cut the skin off before using it; the melted fat adds a rich savoury flavour to dishes and the juicy, crisp bits of meat add great texture. If you can’t find guanciale, use pancetta … but then you won’t be making Bucatini all’Amatriciana.
What is Pecorino Romano?
Pecorino Romano is the traditional sheep milk cheese made around Rome. If you can’t find an authentic Pecorino Romano, use another Italian pecorino (such as a young Pecorino Sardo or Pecorino Toscano). Do not buy Australian so-called ‘pecorino’, which is often made from cow’s milk.
What’s the best way to reheat pasta?
I don’t like to reheat leftover pasta as it’s always too soft. Instead I turn it into a delicious frittata by frying it in a little olive oil, pouring whisked eggs over it and, when it’s set around the edges, finishing it off under the overhead grill in the oven. Any leftover Bucatini all’Amatriciana responds very well to this treatment!
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