Italian,  Main Course

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Bucatini all’Amatriciana is one of those recipes.

For as much cooking as I/we do there remains an incredible gap in my culinary knowledge.

I am drawn to classic recipes like this one. It’s the history that surrounds them that draws me in. Which inevitably leads to recipe inspiration.

Like many of the classic Italian dishes, the origin and precise ingredients of Bucatini all’Amatriciana are often debated.

Amatriciana was thought to be created by shepherds or even peasants. They would have used ingredients on hand or readily available.

Onion is one of the debated ingredients. Would white wine have been included as Bucatini all’Amatriciana? Wouldn’t wine have been considered a luxury!

The ingredients pictured above are for my interpretation of Amatriciana sauce, there is much debate regarding the authentic version.

If you love the history of food as I do you will enjoy this article: The Origins of Rome’s Pasta Classics.

The Ingredients

There are two key elements in Bucatini all’Amatriciana, actually three if you count the bucatini pasta. None of which are complicated.

First is the guanciale, which is salt-cured pork cheek. I found guanciale difficult to source. Even from an International Market. However if you have an Italian deli nearby you may have better luck. You can substitute a good quality pancetta if needed.

The second key ingredient are the canned San Marzano tomatoes. San Marzano are whole plum tomatoes with very few seeds. They have a rich tomato taste. They’re slightly sweet and less acidic. Making them renowned for their balanced flavor.

Simply crush the tomatoes by hand to break them down to bite-sized or smaller pieces.

The Method

  • Cook the guanciale until it’s golden brown and crispy
  • Remove from the pan and add in the diced onion, garlic and red pepper flakes, sauté until translucent
  • Return the crispy guanciale to the pan, reserving about 1/3 of the pork pieces to sprinkle on top of the pasta when serving
  • Add the crushed tomatoes.

To Serve

  • Pull the bucatini out of the pasta water a couple of minutes before it’s done. Very al dente.
  • Transfer to the sauce to finish cooking
  • Toss the pasta in the sauce along with 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to coat each piece. This step alone is what gives this dish deep unctuous flavors throughout every bite.
  • Sprinkle grated Pecorino Romano cheese into the pasta and stir quickly to incorporate
  • Bucatini all’Amatriciana is a beautiful dish to serve family style
  • Garnish with fresh basil, remaining crispy guanciale and a handful of grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Buon Appetito!

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All my best,
xo Libby

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

The ingredients are not complicated but there are two key elements in Bucatini all'Amatriciana – guanciale and San Marzano tomatoes, actually three if you count the bucatini pasta.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4


  • 4 ounces guanciale or pancetta cut into 1/4" strips
  • 1 28 ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes hand crush
  • 1 small sweet onion fine diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecornio Romano cheese plus more for garnish
  • fresh basil leaves to garnish
  • 1 pound bucatini pasta
  • 1 teaspoon salt for pasta water


  • Bring large pot of salted water to boil.
  • In large skillet, saute guanciale until browned and crispy. Remove from pan and reserve. Add diced onion to pan and saute for 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add hand crushed tomatoes and about 2/3 of the crispy guaciale; simmer for 10 mimnutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook bucatini until very al dente, about 2-3 minutes less than recommended cooking time. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta cooking liquid. Add cooked pasta to sauce along with reserved water. Toss to coat bucatini well. Sprinkle with pecorino romano cheese and stir quickly to incorporate.
  • Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle with fresh basil, remaining crispy guanciale and a handful of pecorino romano.

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