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pasta all'amatriciana
© John Kernick

Pasta all'Amatriciana

  • ACTIVE: 30 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR
  • SERVINGS: 4 to 6
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • STAFF-FAVORITE

The chef at Osteria di San Cesario, Anna Dente, is known as the Queen of Matriciana. She not only makes the pasta and sauce herself, she draws on her family's four decades in the butchering business to make her own guanciale (cured hog jowl)—though the sauce is also fantastic made with pancetta.

  1. 3 ounces thickly sliced guanciale or pancetta (see Note), cut into 1/2-inch strips
  2. 1 fresh red chile—stemmed, seeded and minced
  3. 1 bay leaf
  4. 1/2 cup dry white wine
  5. One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes—tomatoes chopped, juices reserved
  6. 3/4 pound dried pasta, such as bucatini, spaghetti or rigatoni
  7. Freshly ground pepper
  8. Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  1. In a large skillet, combine the guanciale, chile and bay leaf and cook over moderately low heat until the fat has rendered and the guanciale is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer over moderate heat until it has reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook over high heat until just barely tender. Drain the pasta and stir it into the sauce. Cook the pasta over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 2 minutes. Season with pepper. Spoon the pasta into shallow bowls, generously sprinkle with the grated Pecorino Romano and serve, passing more Pecorino cheese at the table.
Make Ahead The spicy tomato sauce can be refrigerated overnight. Bring it just to a simmer before adding the pasta and finishing the dish. Notes Guanciale (pronounced gwan-CHAH-leh), or salted, air-cured pork jowls, comes from the Italian word meaning "cheek." If using pancetta in place of the guanciale called for in this recipe, cook it in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in Step 1 and season the finished sauce with salt.

Suggested Pairing

Even with the tomatoes and porky guanciale, Lazians would still pair this dish with a white wine. Try a rich version from the Frascati region.