There is much controversy among Italian cooks about where the recipe for amatriciana sauce comes from and what exactly goes into it. Many heated debates have ensued over whether there are onions in the sauce and even whether the sauce is made with or without tomatoes.
Without taking sides in the many controversies surrounding this sauce, I offer my favorite recipe. It is a modified version of Mario Batali’s amatriciana recipe. Yes, my amatriciana has onions, but you should feel free to omit them if you are philosophically opposed to that.
6 ounces of guanciale*
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 28-ounce cans of Italian tomatoes
Crushed red pepper, to taste
1 cup of pecorino romano, freshly grated
1 package bucatini (or spaghetti)
Over medium-high heat, sauté guanciale until some of the fat is rendered and the meat starts to become crunchy (If you end up with too much fat—depending on the kind of guanciale you use—pour some of it out). Add the onions and continue to sauté for 3-4 minutes or until onions are soft. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, lower the heat, and cook for about 25 minutes, until the sauce thickens a bit and the flavors blend. Add salt to taste.
In the meantime, cook the pasta al dente and when it is done, combine with the sauce. Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese and serve hot.
*Guanciale is the cured pig’s cheek. I get mine from Armandino’s Salumi. If you cannot find guanciale, you can use pancetta or unsmoked bacon.