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Everyday Pasta Recipes: Spaghetti All'amatriciana

Updated on December 7, 2012
simmering sauce
simmering sauce
finished product
finished product
Spaghetti all'amatriciana
Spaghetti all'amatriciana

A Classic Italian Pasta Dish

One of my favorite pasta dishes is Spaghetti all'amatriciana. This is a simple and delicious recipe that comes from the city of Amatrice in northern Lazio (southern region of Italy in which lies Rome). There are many variations of this recipe and the original, according to purist, does not use onions but mine does. I also like to use a few splashes of white wine which may or may not be authentic

Pancetta ( unsmoked Italian bacon) or Guanciale (cured unsmoked bacon from pig jowl) are the main ingredient in this recipe. Some of you might not be able to find either one of these products if you don't live close to any specialty stores or Italian markets. I have used regualar smoked bacon for this recipe and it will do but will leave a smoked flavor, which isn't so bad actually.



large saute or frying pan

wooden spoon

Sharp large knife


1/2 lb of pancetta, guanciale, or regular American style bacon

1 large onion, diced

1/2 cup of dry white wine

15 oz can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, pure tomato with nothing added if possible. You can use peeled fresh tomatoes pureed if you like.

1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon of sea salt


First, dice the pancetta into small cubes and add to saute pan. Let the pancetta brown and render fat. Once the pancetta is starting to crisp a little, add the diced onion and allow the onion to saute and become soft, this will take about 4 minutes. You can tell your onions are ready when they begin to appear translucent.

Now pour a glass of white wine. Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice but any white wine variety will do. While on a high flame, pour half of the glass into the pancetta and onion mixture. Drink the other half glass of wine. Allow the wine to simmer for about 5 minutes. The liquid should be almost completely absorbed and evaporated at this point.

Now add the tomatoes, salt, and crushed red pepper and let simmer for 20 minutes. If the sugo (sauce) becomes too dry add a1/2 cup of water. This sauce is excellent served on top of spaghetti, penne, and rigatoni.

When you boil your pasta make sure the water is "as salty s the sea" and to remove it from the water when it is al dente (not overcooked). Strain the pasta and then cook it for 3-4 minutes in the sauce. This step allows the sauce's flavor to absorb into the pasta.

The best cheese to serve on top of this pasta is Pecorino. If you only have Parmigiano then use that.

Try drinking a semi-chilled Sauvignon Blanc with this dish. The acidity level and citrus fruitiness pairs well with dishes on the spicier side. If not a white, try a medium bodied red like Barbera or even a lighter Pinot Noir.


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