Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spaghetti alla Amatriciana

Spaghetti alla Amatriciana
Recipe by Traditional

Yield: 4 servings

  • 4 oz. Guanciale, sliced thin
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 28 oz can Tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 10 oz. Spaghetti or bucatini
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Grated Pecorino

Cooking Directions

  1. While a large pot of generously salted water is coming to a boil slice the guanciale as thin as possible, dice the onion, and chop the garlic.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat, then add the guanciale. Cook the guanciale, stirring occasionally, until it renders most of it's fat and the slices begin to crisp around the edges.
  3. Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook, stirring until it has softened but not colored.
  4. Add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring.
  5. Add the tomatoes and their juice and stir to mix well. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. About a minute short of the specified time, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, mixing well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. Finish the pasta in the sauce, add the chopped parsley, mix well, and serve with grated pecorino.
Garlic: There are some differences of opinion as to whether or not this dish should contain garlic. Ada Boni's version in Il Talismano della Felicita omits it. Most modern recipes include a significant amount, as here. Fresh chopped Parsley is also a modern addition. You should feel free to omit or include them at will.

Peperoncini: Many English language recipes include amounts from a "big pinch" to a ridiculous teaspoon of hot pepper flakes. Doing so turns "Amatriciana" into "Arrabiata". Leave it out. 

Guanciale: All recipes agree that guanciale is essential. Although virtually all English language cookbooks state that pancetta or even un-smoked bacon can be substituted, that is not the case. The curing processes involved are quite different. As a result the flavor will be significantly altered.

Pecorino: It's easy to obtain the hard aged version, Pecorino Romano, here in the United States. I believe it is worthwhile to seek out a still firm, but younger cheese called Pecorino Cacio di Roma. The younger cheese retains the rich lactic feel and flavors along with the slightly gamey overtones of sheep's milk cheeses while avoiding the excessive saltiness of Pecorino Romano. It's worth noting that Boni specifies "pecorino" not "Pecorino Romano"

Where the heck is Amatrice?

Amatrice is a lovely town in central Italy, a good distance north east of Rome and just south of Monti Sibillini National Park.

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