Authentic Bucatini all’Amatriciana – Romans, Lend Me Your Pork!

9 Sep

Authentic Roman Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe, the Classic Eternal City Dish
Recipe by

Romans….lend me your pork!” This is it! The bomb! The master pasta mother-load! In my world, there is no other pasta than Bucatini all’Amatriciana (except for maybe Pasta alla Carbonara). This classic dish from the Eternal city was first presented to my lips when I was just a boy and we would spend time in Rome over the summer months (don’t worry, this isn’t gonna be one of those Dr. Evil, summers in Rangoon stories….) but I’ll never forget the first time I was old enough to appreciate it and I looked at my mom and practically yelled

, “HOLY….what is this?!?!?!?” Of course, having Bucatini all’Amatriciana from it’s birthplace is a lot different than having it anywhere else and I have grown to truly appreciate all of it’s ingredients, the preparation and the diligence to make it all come together (I’m totally exaggerating this by the way, it’s not that hard but I just wanted to build up some drama for my favorite pasta dish). The name of the dish was originated in the town of Amatrice within the region of Lazio, where Rome resides and the greatest soccer team ever is hailed, S.S. LAZIO and the other team of the city A.S. Roma is a bunch of imposters and frauds led by their captain-diva Francesco Totti (I am totally objective about this too by the way). Ok…I’m getting away from the story a little bit…
Authentic Roman Bucatini all'Amatriciana recipe from Paggi Pazzo

The true Bucatini all’Amatriciana, like many other Roman favorites, includes guanciale (a cured pork) and pork in general is a favorite of the Italian capital. However, guanciale can be difficult to find here in the States and you may only come across it in Italian specialty stores (aka “Salumeria”) and markets. Because of this, pancetta is the best and closest substitute for guanciale, but make sure it’s Italian pancetta as many imitations don’t provide the same flavor or texture. Also, don’t settle for another long pasta like spaghetti or linguine (and certainly not fettuccine). If you can find it, buy the bucatini as it’s thickness allows the sauce to enter the pasta through it’s hallowed center at the ends and the ingredients hang on well to the pasta itself. However, unlike many Italian dishes, there is no garlic in this pasta. I know, I know you’re saying….”what you talkin’ about Willis?” but the truth is, this slightly spicy recipe gets it’s flavors from a hardy helping of onions, peppers, guanciale/pancetta, and Pecorino Romano, hey – it’s a Roman dish, of course we’re using Pecorino – where’s your head?!?!?! You know the saying, “when in Rome….“.

When preparing Bucatini all’Amatriciana, buy 1 thick cut (1/4 of a pound) of guanciale or pancetta and cut into chunks and leave some of the fatty parts on as they provide a great deal of flavor to the sauce. I usually trim some of the fat off for my wife since she finds it aesthetically unappealing, but definitely leave some on because you don’t want to lose that flavor (trust me!). The sauce itself is a sweet and yet spicy mixture of onions and tomatoes coming together with peperoncino (hot dry Italian pepper and if you can’t find one, a habanero chili pepper will work as well), some chili pepper flakes, and Pecorino Romano that you actually add into the sauce while it’s cooking (I know, cooky-crazy hunh? Oh those Romans…..MAXIMUS!!!). In all honesty, I’m not one for “hot” and “spicy” dishes as most Italian sauces are fairly mild with the exception of Arrabiata and Fra Diavalo, but this one fits nicely between mild and hot and provides enough tanginess that it just melts in your mouth!

When it comes to selecting a Vino Rosso for this meal – I like to go with the big boys! Obviously I don’t have the luxury of splurging to buy a bottle of Barolo or Brunello for every meal (though I wish I did!), but in this instance I would absolutely say, “live a little”. I think the Brunello actually tastes better with the Bucatini all’Amatriciana but you can’t go wrong with the Barolo either. The local flavor is the delightful Cesanese from the Lazio region but when can you go wrong with a Brunello or Barolo? Anyone???? Yeah, that’s what I thought. So here it is below, my personal favorite – from Paggi Pazzo, “are you not entertained?!?!?!!”. Buon Appetito!

Authentic Roman Bucatini all'Amatriciana Sauce with pancetta, onions, peperoncino, and Pecorino Romano

Authentic Roman Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 45 min

Yield: 6 servings


  • 12 ounces peeled tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 1/2 pound bucatini (Barilla)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 peperoncino (dry Italian pepper) or dry habiniero pepper if peperoncino is not available
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 pound guanciale or pancetta
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Cooking Directions

  1. Cut guanciale or pancetta into small thin chunks and cut onion into thin slices.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to small pan at medium to high heat.
  3. Add guanciale (pancetta) to pan with peperoncino and cook for 5-8 minutes or until pork begins to brown (I prefer to leave the peporoncino whole so I can remove it after the sauce is done but you can cut it into small pieces).
  4. In a different large pan, add teaspoon of oil and sliced onion and cook until onions begin to caramelize.
  5. Once pork is browned, add guanciale (pancetta) with peperoncino, peeled tomatoes, salt, pepper, and pinch of red pepper flakes to pan of onions and turn down heat to low-medium (do not transfer grease from the pan).
  6. After 10 minutes of sauce marinating/cooking, add a generous handful of grated Pecorino Romano into sauce.
  7. Begin to heat pasta pot of water with pinch of salt under high heat.
  8. Add bucatini when water begins to boil and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente.
  9. Drain pasta and add to pan of sauce and remaining 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano.
  10. Stir for several minutes, salivate, crack open a bottle of Brunello or Barolo and then get ready to be overwhelmed with flavor!

Bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 24 ratings.

Click here for full Bucatini all’Amatriciana Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

4 Responses to “Authentic Bucatini all’Amatriciana – Romans, Lend Me Your Pork!”

  1. Tony September 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    I’ve had amatriciana in Rome and it is different there. Not as much as the carbonara is though, as that dish is butchered here in the states compared to what it’s like in Rome.

    • Paggi Pazzo November 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

      Thanks for the post and my next recipe is actually featuring Carbonara and the “cream on carbonara crimes” happening daily in this country. We must unite and put an end to this ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Christian Perret September 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Bene Bucatini, va beh!.pero I tortellini in brodo non c’e altro! forza Bologna!!…You know how i feel……..anche la pizza al taglio a Bologna!!!!………..and Forza Inter!!

    • Paggi Pazzo September 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

      Well I know I can’t change your mind about Inter ๐Ÿ™‚ But how can you argue with any food that is created from Bologna, the food capital of Italy! You have given me some ideas though for future recipes specific to Bologna! Mille Grazie!

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