This classic Italian dish is great for weeknight dinners with the quick-cooked tomato-based sauce flavored by the rendered fat of the guanciale, sautéed red onions, black pepper, red pepper and the sharp flavor of Pecorino Romano. The sauce for this pasta is made in one pot so there’s minimal cleanup (a definite bonus in my house)!
While onions are not considered traditional in bucatini all’amatriciana I love the slightly sweet flavor it adds to the quick-cooked sauce. This recipe is based on my favorite iteration of a dish that I’ve had at the Santa Monica restaurant, Ouovo. The addition of starchy pasta water makes for a glossy and almost creamy pasta sauce.
I like buying a big chunk of guanciale and cutting it into lardons (strips of fatty cured pork) myself so that I can control the size. I prefer larger pieces of the cured pork jowl. When the fat is rendered and the pieces are crispy you still get a bit of tender fat in each bite. If you prefer less fatty pork, I’d recommend cutting it into smaller pieces.
Guiancale is cured pork with a high percentage of fat that comes from pig jowls, seasoned with salt, pepper, sage, rosemary and garlic. Pancetta comes from pork belly and is salted, seasoned, cured and aged for an extended period of time. Pancetta is more similar to bacon while guanciale has a flavor all it’s own, however, if you’re looking for a substitute pancetta or bacon will do in a pinch.
Bucatini is in my top 5 pasta shapes. I love how the sauce gets stuck in the hole in the center of the long thick noodles, but if you can’t find it, you can easily substitute spaghetti or linguine. Bucatini is thicker than spaghetti with a hole in the middle. It’s basically the shape of a pool noodle and is great for soaking up sauces, especially velvety sauces like this one, cacio e pepe or this bucatini carbonara with bacon and peas.
If you can’t find guiancale you can substitute lardons of bacon or pancetta. I’d recommend looking at Italian markets or asking at your deli counter.
No but I love the texture and slight sweetness they add to this bucatini all’amatriciana recipe!
The salty, starchy water that the pasta is cooked in adds flavor but also makes the sauce rich and silky. It helps to bind the sauce to the pasta.
No, I don’t recommend it! You want this sauce to bind to the noodles – this is aided by the addition of the pasta water. Adding oil when cooking the noodles will make them slippery and the sauce won’t stick as well.
Bucatini all’amatriciana or bucatini amatriciana refers to the spicy pasta sauce made up of pork cheek (guiancale), tomatoes, cheese and in some variations, onions. It’s named for Amatrice, a small Italian town outside Rome.
I know there’s currently a bucatini shortage so it can be harder to track down dried bucatini. I make my own using my KitchenAid pasta maker attachment for my stand mixer though you can also substitute a similar noodle like spaghetti or a flat noodle like linguine.
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