Not long ago I made spaghetti alla carbonara and in that post I mentioned an article in the New York Times on guanciale. The article starts by mentioning pasta all'amatriciana: when I read it, I did not know that I would be soon making it.
The inspiration came from finding Niman Ranch guanciale at The Pasta Shop in Oakland. I bought some and decided that I would use it to make spaghetti all'amatriciana. I remember eating bucatini all'amatriciana, but I am not a fan of bucatini and prefer spaghetti. As mentioned in the NYT article, some people consider spaghetti closer to the tradition. The way I see it, you can choose. I don't have a family recipe, but I am on the side of the onion-less party. My list of ingredients, besides spaghetti, includes guanciale, pomodori and pecorino.
For my rendition of the dish I cut 1/4 lb of guanciale (sliced to my specifications at the store) into pieces (see photo) and placed them in a frying pan previously sprayed lightly with olive oil and warmed up. I cooked the guanciale for a few minutes, then removed it from the pan with a slotted spoon and placed it in a small bowl. I then added a 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes [see update below] to the pan and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. I cooked, uncovered, for 10 minutes, then added the guanciale to the tomatoes. I set the heat to low to keep the sauce warm while the pasta cooked.
I brought a pot of water to a rolling boil, added some salt and tossed a pound of spaghetti in it. Shortly before the pasta was ready, I adjusted salt and pepper in the sauce and prepared 1/2 cup of freshly grated... I should say pecorino, but I had some aged goat cheese and experimented with that instead. I drained the pasta and poured it in a bowl that I had kept warm, added the cheese and then the sauce while mixing.
I was pretty happy with the result. The sauce made with chopped tomatoes was a bit too watery, so next time I will try a different kind of tomatoes. Also, I will use pecorino. Update: I made the recipe using a 28 oz can of ground, peeled tomatoes and the result was more to my liking.
The two photos that I took of the final result where unusable. Fortunately, Lisa of Champaign Taste made the same dish using pretty much the same recipe, just a different kind of pasta. You are therefore invited to read her post and admire her bucatini all'amatriciana.
As Lisa and I were exchanging notes after discovering that, unbeknown to each other, we had both made pasta all'amatriciana, the invitation arrived to participate to Festa Italiana, an event organized by Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita and Marie of Proud Italian Cook. It is a favored dish in my long list, sure to please the party crowd, and so that's what I am bringing.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the spaghetti all'amatriciana audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]