How to make Roman pasta all’Amatriciana

Ever since the very first trip to Italy in 2020, I’ve been addicted to recreating as closely as possible some of the Italian dishes we ate on our vacation. My favorite Roman pasta dish is carbonara.

In total, there are four pasta dishes that are Roman staples. Pasta all’Amatriciana is one of them. I’ll tell you how to make this easy pasta dish.

Pasta all’Amatriciana Ingredients

  • Pasta – Bucatini or Rigatoni is my personal preference, however, we had Pappardelle in the cabinet.
  • Canned peeled tomatoes – I prefer the Cento brand as they are San Marzano tomatoes.
  • White wine – I used Pinot Grigio. I keep a small four-pack of wine at home almost all the time because I only use this type of wine for cooking.
  • Black Pepper – Freshly cracked is best.
  • Pancetta – This dish calls for Guanciale, but it’s hard to find. When you find Guanciale, it’s expensive. Instead, I head to the deli in the grocery store and buy some pancetta. I ask them for the “Thick as Heck” cup. I use one of these chunky cuts for every two people I serve. You can also add another half slice for a meatier dish.
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese – Grated to taste.

Prepare your ingredients

  • Pancetta – Cut the pancetta into evenly shaped cubes.
  • Tomatoes – You will use about 2/3 of the can. I like to chop my tomatoes a bit. You can also use a fork or your hands to mash them for a more rustic style.
  • Pecorino Romano – Finely grated.

Let’s make pasta all’Amatriciana. Put your sauté pan on medium-low heat. You will want to add the pancetta to a cold skillet and skim off the fat from the meat. Depending on the size of the pieces and the fat content, this may take 8-15 minutes. I have an electric boil function on my stove and this is normally when I start heating my pasta water. Once the pancetta fat has melted, add about 1/2 to 1 full teaspoon of cracked black pepper. I let the pepper swell a little in the oil before adding the white wine. After adding the white wine, allow the alcohol to burn off the wine, then add the tomatoes to simmer.

Your pasta water should be boiling at this point. If using Bucatini or Rigatoni, cooking times for these types of pasta range from 10 to 15 minutes to al dente. This would be a good time to add your pasta.

Stir your tomato base occasionally. You will see that the sauce has started to reduce. This is what you want to happen. All the flavors of the pancetta, white wine and black pepper pair quite well with the tomatoes at this point.

Just before al dente, transfer your pasta to the tomato sauce. If using a colander, be sure to reserve about half a cup of pasta water to add to the sauce. Some people like to mix in a pan, but I tend to make a mess when doing so, so I prefer to use tongs to incorporate sauce and pasta.

After mixing the pasta and sauce, you may see that the sauce has been absorbed into the pasta. If this happens, add a little of the reserved cooking water, but not too much. One of the final steps is to incorporate Pecorino Romano cheese into your dish. To do this, sprinkle the top of the pasta, then mix or stir.

Now you’ve worked up an appetite and it’s time to eat. Plate your pasta, then finish with more Pecorino Romano and black pepper to savor this classic Roman pasta dish.

Need more than a tutorial? If you’re like me, you’re a visual learner. Youtube has been a good friend of mine when it comes to learning how to cook a new dish. Not Another Cooking Show is a channel I follow that breaks down the recipe pretty easily. If you’d like to watch the video on how to make Bucatini all’Amatriciana, I’ve linked it below:

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