Loretta Sebastiani

Loretta Sebastiani
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Pasta amatriciana recipe
( Bucatini all'amatriciana )

Traditional recipe of Lazio-Rome

Pasta amatriciana is well known all over the world. In Italy there are two versions with bucatini or spaghetti. First I'm going to explain you step-by-step recipe of bucatini all'amatriciana and at the bottom of this page you can also read spaghetti matriciana style and spaghetti alla gricia. In all three recipes the main ingredients are: pasta, pecorino cheese, guanciale, hot chilli pepper. Read below what is guanciale.

difficulty: easy

time: 50 minutes

calories: 427 (kCal)

Ingredients / Serves 4

  • 280g (10 ounces) bucatini pasta
  • 100g (3 1/2 ounces) Italian guanciale similar to jowl bacon
  • 400g (14 ounces) fresh and ripe tomatoes, cubed
  • 40g (1 1/2 ounce) grated sharp pecorino cheese
  • Chilli, if you like
  • Salt
  • Pepper, if liked
easy recipe
preparation: 20 minutes
cooking: 30 minutes
total: 50 minutes
How many calories in a serving?
Calories: 427 (kcal) 22 % - 1786 (kJ)
Protein: 13.5 (g) 27 % GDA
Total fat: 16.9 (g) 25 % GDA
Total carbohydrate: 58.9 (g) 22 % GDA
Sugars: 6.5 (g) 8 % GDA

Download free PDF version (282 download).

Pasta amatriciana recipe

Preparation and cooking

  • - Begin with guanciale.
    Cut guanciale into thin strips or cube it.
    Cook it in a non-stick frying pan or better in an iron skillet over medium heat with no added fat.
    Eventually add a tablespoon warm water to let guanciale fat melt easier.
    Stir frequently.
    Remove guanciale with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • - Prepare Amatriciana sauce.
    Add tomatoes and their liquid to the gravy on the pan.
    Add hot chilli pepper too.
    Season to taste with salt and pepper, if liked.
    Cook over a gentle heat until sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
    One minute before turning off your stove mix guanciale again in pasta sauce.
  • - Meanwhile, cook bucatini in a large kettle of boiling salted water according to the package directions.
    Drain well and transfer to a bowl.

Just before serving

  • - Dress your pasta with Amatriciana sauce and grated sharp pecorino cheese.
    Stir very well.
    Serve immediately.



  • - If you are not in summer you can use 1 400g (14 ounces) can tomato pulp.
  • - Now it's time to answer to the question: what is guanciale? guanciale is an Italian bacon prepared with pig's cheeks. Its name derives from guancia, the Italian word for cheek ;) So guanciale is similar to jowl bacon.
    I suggest you not to use bacon because it derives from pig's belly and its flavor is very different.
  • - What's kind of pecorino cheese? This is a recipe of Latium (Italian region whose capital city is Rome) and so you could choose Roman pecorino cheese that you can find easily.
    But if you make a trip in Italy and visit Amatrice that claims to be the place in which this recipe was born, you'll be able to taste spaghetti alla matriciana with their local pecorino cheese.
  • - You have to know there are a lot of Amatriciana pasta versions in Italy.
    First Rome and Amatrice, in the province of Rieti, contend for the origin of the recipe and so there is bucatini all'amatriciana of Rome and spaghetti alla matriciana of Amatrice. What is the real origin of this Italian pasta recipe? read below on "A little history" if there is a sure answer.
    Then there are a lot of variants for chosen ingredients. Some people add onion to Amatriciana sauce. Others saute guanciale in olive oil or lard. All are Roman versions.

Menu planning

  • - You can prepare bucatini all'amatriciana for your family menu (but not often) or a special occasion (much better). This is a full menuplan of mine, Italian-style. Below all links to suggested recipes.
    Starter: Pecorino puffs accompanied by assorted salami
    First course: bucatini all'amatriciana
    Second course: lamb dish accompanied by seasonal vegetables
    Dessert: Apple pie in winter and cherry clafoutis in summer

Useful links for this recipe

  • - Bucatini is a particular Italian pasta shape: thick hollow spaghetti in other words.
  • - I have just mentioned special Pecorino finger foods to assemble your starter.
  • - Consult our directory for lamb meat to find your favorite recipe!
  • - Obviously we Italians have a lot of sweet recipes, among them there are apple pie and cherry clafoutis, both accoding to the Italian version.

Healthy eating

  • - Calories of bucatini all'amatriciana that I have presented do not seem excessive. But everything depends on the amount of ingredients. I have reduced the portion of pasta, only 70g (2 1/2 ounces) and, consequently, that one of pecorino cheese and guanciale. In most recipes on Internet 100g (3 1/2 ounces) of pasta per head is proposed with consequently higher doses for guanciale  (150g - 5 1/3 ounces) and pecorino that in some cases also arrives to 100g (3 1/2 ounces). Anything is possible but a quick count, with 75g (2 3/4 ounces) Pecorino cheese leads me to give you these new values​​:
    Calories: 628 kcal (2627 kJ)
    Protein: 20.1g
    Total fat: 26.4g
    Carbohydrate: 82.7g
    Sugars: 7.8g
    The choice is yours ... You can easily understand that if you saute guanciale  in olive oil, things change again.
    A dish like Amatriciana pasta was perfect for our previous generations that moved much more than us, surely. Particularly shepherds of Amatrice that are told to be the creators of this pasta dish centuries ago.
    We'd better eating pasta all'amatriciana rarely ;)

What's the right wine for " Pasta amatriciana recipe "?

My husband and I suggest you to pair Cerveteri Rosso or Frascati Rosso (both red wines from Latium - Italian region) to this bucatini or spaghetti recipe.

A little history

  • - Amatrice, a small town north of Rome, in the province of Rieti, gave its name to this dish. But now it's one of the most traditional dish of the typical Roman restaurants so a lot of Romans are sure bucatini all'amatriciana is a recipe of their own.
    Who is right?
    Bucatini all'amatriciana is a real recipe of Rome and you've just read its description.
    Spaghetti alla matriciana is the authentic recipe of Amatrice. The recipe is similar but with some differences. The most important is the pasta shape! Here Amatrice recipe!
  • - Spaghetti alla matriciana recipe.
    Recommended doses for 4 people: 400g (14 ounces) spaghetti, 500g (1.1 pound) ripe tomatoes, 250g (8 3/4 ounces) guanciale, 150g (5 1/3 ounces) pecorino cheese, a tablespoon of lard, a little piece of chilli pepper, salt and pepper.
    Directions. Melt lard in the frying pan, saute guanciale in melted lard to color but not to burn it, add chili pepper and then tomatoes (peeled and seeded but with their juice), season to taste with salt, cook for 10 minutes and remove chilli pepper at the end. Meanwhile cook spaghetti al dente, drain and transfer to the pan. Stir in pecorino cheese a little at a time on high heat for a minute. Serve at once.
  • - There is another detail you should know. It seems spaghetti alla matriciana recipe was born with the fancy of poor shepherds of this region many centuries ago. At the beginning this pasta had no tomatoes.
    As you know Cristoforo Colombo introduced tomatoes in Europe coming back from America (1492). At the beginning tomatoes were yellow not red as nowadays.
    Probably sheperds' pasta was made only with guanciale and grated pecorino. Guanciale is one of the most important ingredient and it has a lower quantity in fat than pancetta (bacon).
    In other words they were used to do spaghetti alla gricia. Meanwhile they were cooking pasta, they melted guanciale on iron skillet and then stir in drained pasta and pecorino cheese. Simply to do and tasty recipe!