Here’s one of my favorite spaghetti sauces that’s ready in the time it takes to cook the spaghetti. The recipe comes from the the small hill town of Amatrice in the Sabine Hills northeast of Rome.
You see spaghetti all’Amatriciana in all the trattorie in Rome. It’s a really popular pasta here in North Beach too. I get it whenever it’s on the menu at da Flora on Columbus.
Here’s my version of this simple sauce. It doesn’t have many ingredients. Make sure you use canned San Marzano tomatoes for this one. The tomato, onion and guanciale sauce is ready in about 20 minutes.
I like the sauce a little on the chunky side. It sticks to the spaghetti better. The onions enhance the sweetness of the tomatoes. The crispy little guanciale cubes add texture to every bite. I add some chili flakes to perk everything up.
Nothing better than a fat forkful of spaghetti all’Amatriciana. It’s a mouthful of flavor that packs a little heat.
In Amatrice they hold an annual August festival, Sagra degli Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, that celebrates their world-famous pasta dish. Here’s a video of the town and the festival devoted exclusively to this dish. Buon appetito!
- 1 pound (500 grams) spaghetti
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces guanciale, diced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups canned San Marzano tomatoes, squashed by hand
- Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ¼ cup grated pecorino
- Put on a large pot of well-salted water (5 quarts, 2 tablespoons sea salt) and bring to a boil.
- While the water is boiling make the sauce.
- Put the olive oil in a large sauté pan (large enough to hold the cooked spaghetti) and heat over medium-high.
- When the oil is hot add the sliced onions (and chili flakes if using) and saute until the onions soften.
- Add the diced guanciale and saute until the guanciale picks up a bit of color.
- Add the white wine and deglaze the pan picking up any brown bits on the bottom. Stir them into the sauce.
- Cook until the wine decreases in volume by half.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce rapidly simmer for about 15 minutes so it thickens.
- When the water is boiling cook the pasta.
- When the pasta is al dente drain the spaghetti.
- Put the spaghetti in the pan with the sauce. Mix well to evenly coat the spaghetti with the sauce.
- Finish cooking the pasta in the pan for a minute or so. The spaghetti will finish cooking and absorb some of the sauce.
- Put the spaghetti and sauce on a serving platter and top with the grated pecorino. Serve immediately.