Bucatini with Matriciana Sauce

Bucatini with Amatriciana sauce
Bucatini all’Amatriciana

    • Prep Time
    • Minutes
    • Cook Time
    • Minutes

The ingredients for bucatini with Matriciana Sauce

Total Cost: UK/£ 5,80*

Cost/portion: UK/£ 1,93*

Amatriciana or Matriciana?

Amatrice is the village in Latium where this sauce has its origins. Both names have the same meaning: “the Amatrice way”. “Amatriciana” in official Italian language, “Matriciana” in Roman dialect. So both names are correct.

This recipe is actually a variation of the ancient Gricia, which you already know and which is made without tomatoes. As for its ancestor, the two most important ingredients are pecorino romano cheese and guanciale. Pecorino is a very tasty sheep cheese, stronger than parmesan cheese. Guanciale is quite easily mistaken for pancetta, but while the latter comes from the belly of the pork, guanciale comes from the cheeks and the higher part of the pork’s neck. In English it is called “cheek lard”. Guanciale tastes much more delicate than pancetta and the fat itself has a different consistency than pancetta’s fat.

If you can’t have access to guanciale, you can use some bacon or mix this with some thick slices of Parma ham, keeping as much natural fat as possible. Also, you can use simple tomato passata instead of peeled plum tomatoes. Pecorino romano cheese can be found in any supermarket, so there is no excuse to use parmigiano cheese in its stead.

Bucatini can also be changed into spaghetti, or even penne or rigatoni. But you should choose a quite thick shape of pasta since this sauce would be too strong for small and thin sizes.

Find some interesting details about the origins of this recipe here.

Note for the users: please click on the label “HOW TO” to watch the slide-show of each cooking step.

* Please note that both total cost and cost per portion are approximate and that can vary according to seasons and to different conditions.

Recipe Rating

  • (2 Rating)

Ingredients

  • for the sauce

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil -50gr

  • Chili Pepper - 1 large

  • Pecorino Romano Cheese* - 80gr

  • Guanciale* (possibly with its rind) - 180gr

  • Black pepper corns** - 3gr or to taste

  • Peeled Plum Tomatoes***- 400gr (tinned)

  • Salt - 4 gr or to taste

  • * Both “guanciale” and “pecorino romano” cheese are essential ingredients for this recipe. “Pecorino romano” is very easily available by now in supermarkets. Guanciale, instead, is a delicacy and it is sold in deli shops or online. If you can’t find it, thought, you might as well use a common bacon. Make sure it’s not smoked otherwise the taste would be completely altered and way too different from the original.
  • ** Black pepper corns should be either crushed with pestle and mortar, or milled; just try to avoid the ready made black pepper powder since there is no trace of any aroma anymore in it. Guanciale already has its layer of pepper and seasoning on one side, so you might want to reduce the quantities I am suggesting, but please try to be generous: this is a dish with a strong and uncompromising flavour.
  • *** Plum Tomatoes can be either tinned or peeled from fresh, in which case, you will need to get fresh San Marzano tomatoes, drop them into boiling water - a couple at a time - and take them out after 30-40seconds. Then, holding them up with a fork, immediately peel them off with a paring knife. They might be less juicy than tinned plum tomatoes.
  • for the pasta

  • Water - 5lt

  • Salt* - 35gr

  • Bucatini - 240gr (or spaghetti)

  • *If you want to use less water (not less than 3lt - see the main note about boiling pasta) then you can reduce the salt to 25gr. This dose of salt is very low, since the guanciale will be savoury itself.
  • Utensils for the sauce

  • One chopping board

  • One paring knife

  • One sharp chef knife

  • One zester or grater

  • One small plate or bowl

  • One pestle and mortar

  • One large frying pan

  • Utensils for the pasta

  • One 6-8lt saucepan

  • One ladle

  • One large strainer or a pasta server

  • Two wooden spoons or silicon spatulas (if necessary)

Instructions

  • 1.
    Putting the water to boil and preparing the ingredients

    • Water - 5lt
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 50gr
    • Chili Pepper - 1 large
    • Pecorino Romano Cheese - 80gr
    • Guanciale (possibly with its rind) - 180gr
    • Black pepper corns - 3gr or to taste
    • One 6-8lt saucepan
    • One large frying pan
    • One pestle and mortar
    • One paring knife
    • One sharp chef knife
    • One chopping board
    • One zester or grater

      Put the saucepan with the water on a high heat and cover with a lid. The water will take from 18 to 20 minutes to get to a stable boiling.
      Put the 50gr of extra virgin olive oil into the frying pan and put this on a medium heat. It will need to get very hot before adding the guanciale(step 1 - pic. A).
      Finely crush the black pepper corns into the mortar. Set aside.
      If guanciale comes with its rind, cut it off in one piece and put it into the frying pan with the olive oil. then, finely slice the guanciale with a sharp chef knife. Cut it across, so that each slice will have an even quantity of fat and meat.
      With the paring knife, cut off the top green end of the chili pepper, open it with a longwise cut and clean off its inner membrane. Chili pepper seed are very hot so it’s up to you whether or not to keep them all or get rid of them. Just consider that this sauce must be carachterised by a hot note(step 1 - pic. A).
      With a grater or a zester, finely grate the pecorino romano cheese and set aside(step 1 - pic. C).


      Note about salt and water for pasta

      If you think you might forget to salt water before adding pasta, you can salt water right after putting it on heat. This can become a safe routine, but the commonly unknown result of this is that it will require a longer time to come to the boiling temperature of 100ºC. It would be better instead to wait for the boiling to start and then carefully add the salt. The addiction of salt at this stage causes a sudden increase of the temperature of the solution for a couple of seconds during which the water increases the bubbling and risks to pour out if the pan’s sides are not sufficiently high.

      So the right pan should be taller than its diameter and capacious enough to contain a good amount of water.

      The minimum ratio between water and pasta is 1lt every 100gr. Although, for small amount of pasta it’s better to use a fairly large and deep pan which will keep the water to temperature also after dropping the pasta in. So that’s why I prefer to use 5lt of water even just to cook a single portion of pasta.

      Another important detail of which to take care, is the right quantity of salt to add to the water. It depends on the quantity of salt the condiment for pasta is going to contain and the cooking time that pasta requires; not only on your personal taste.

      A normal dose of salt is 11-12gr per litre of water and it can be increased to a maximum of 14-15gr for those who like their food to be particularly savoury. When using ingredients which are already salty themselves, like bacon or ham, the dose can be lowered to a minimum of 9-10gr per litre of water, as well as when you know that you will bind pasta with a lot of its own cooking water.

      Keep also in mind that longer cooking time require smaller doses of salt whereas quicker cooking will need a larger dose.

  • 2.
    Frying the cheek lard with black pepper and chili pepper

    • The frying pan with the hot extra virgin olive oil (and the rind)
    • The sliced guanciale
    • The crushed black pepper
    • The chopped chili pepper
    • One wooden spoon or silicon spatula
    • One small plate of bowl

      When the olive oil has changed its colour(step 2 - pic. A) and has turned almost completely transparent, it means that it is hot enough for frying the cheek lard, which must become slightly crispy and golden on the edges.
      If you are using a heavy aluminum frying pan, this will have accumulated a lot of heat, so you might need to set the heat to a low power. Add the sliced guanciale and let it fry gently for about 3 or 4 minutes(step 2 - pic. B).
      Then, season with black pepper and add the chopped chili pepper(step 2 - pic. C-D). Let it all fry for another minute, then take it all out and set aside into a small bowl or plate(step 2 - pic. E).

  • 3.
    Cooking the peeled plum tomatoes and putting the pasta to boil

    • The frying oil with the hot fat
    • Peeled Plum Tomatoes - 400gr (tinned)
    • Salt - 4 gr or to taste
    • Half of the fried guanciale and chili peper - (part 1 of 2)
    • The boiling water in the saucepan
    • Salt* - 35gr
    • Bucatini - 240gr (or spaghetti or penne)
    • *If you want to use less water (not less than 3lt - see the main note about boiling pasta) then you can reduce the salt to 25gr. This dose percentage of salt is very low, since the guanciale will be savoury itself.

      Set the heat under the frying pan to a high power and add the 400gr of peeled plum tomatoes. Stir evenly and let it reduce for 5 to 6 minutes(step 3 - pic. A).
      Add the 35gr of salt to the boling water for pasta and add all bucatini in. Keep stirring them frequently for the first few minutes, so they will not stick to each other. If needed, cover with a lid but leaving a gap(step 3 - pic. B).
      When the tomato sauce has reduced, add half of the mixture of guanciale and chili pepper; the rest will be added at the last minute, so it will give the dish a more interesting texture(step 3 - pic. C).

      Note about the correct cooking point "al dente”

      “Al dente” literally means “to the tooth”. It indicates the perfect consistency that pasta, or any other food, should have at the end of the cooking process: not too soft and not too hard at chewing. Pasta cooked “al dente” maintains a harder consistency at the centre of the dough sheet which gives the diners a pleasant feeling of “biting” rather than “mushing” something under their teeth..

  • 4.
    Straining and binding the bucatini and the sauce

    • The frying oil with the sauce
    • The almost cooked bucatini
    • The second half of fried guanciale and chili pepper - (part 2 of 2)
    • The grated pecorino romano cheese
    • One ladle
    • One large strainer or a pasta server
    • Two wooden spoons or silicon spatulas (if necessary)

      Check the cooking time instructions on the pasta bag and remember that you will need to take the bucatini out of the water just one or two minutes earlier.
      Collect about 20ml or 25ml of cooking water with a ladle and put it aside in a small receptacle.
      Drain the pasta thoroughly with a strainer. As an alternative, you can use a pasta server and move the pasta directly from the saucepan to the frying pan.
      Immediately add the bucatini to the sauce, stir and toss quickly and add a small ladle of cooking liquor(step 4 - pic. A-B). Stir continuously and let the mixture reduce. Keep adding cooking liquor one ladle at a time until bucatini are perfectly cooked, always allowing the added water to reduce completely before adding more of it.
      Add three quarters of the grated pecorino romano cheese and the second half of the fried guanciale with chili pepper. Stir evenly(step 4 - pic. C).
      Serve immediately with the rest of the pecorino romano cheese sprinkled on top.

      Note about binding pasta

      As well as for rice, almost all recipes require pasta to be bound together with its sauce and tossed over heat. This allows the sauce to grab on the surface of pasta, wether it is smooth or lined or copper drawn, so that every forkful will have its perfect balance of flavours and textures. Otherwise, sauce would slip away while eating and you would end up with a good quantity of the sauce still on the bottom of the bowl.
      Another very good idea, even if not allowed by etiquette, is to eat pasta, any kind of pasta, with some nice fresh crusty bread. Bread’s starchy flavour enhances both flavours of sauce and pasta dough itself.

Instructions

  • 1.
    Putting the water to boil and preparing the ingredients

    • Water - 5lt
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 50gr
    • Chili Pepper - 1 large
    • Pecorino Romano Cheese - 80gr
    • Guanciale (possibly with its rind) - 180gr
    • Black pepper corns - 3gr or to taste
    • One 6-8lt saucepan
    • One large frying pan
    • One pestle and mortar
    • One paring knife
    • One sharp chef knife
    • One chopping board
    • One zester or grater

      Put the saucepan with the water on a high heat and cover with a lid. The water will take from 18 to 20 minutes to get to a stable boiling.
      Put the 50gr of extra virgin olive oil into the frying pan and put this on a medium heat. It will need to get very hot before adding the guanciale(step 1 - pic. A).
      Finely crush the black pepper corns into the mortar. Set aside.
      If guanciale comes with its rind, cut it off in one piece and put it into the frying pan with the olive oil. then, finely slice the guanciale with a sharp chef knife. Cut it across, so that each slice will have an even quantity of fat and meat.
      With the paring knife, cut off the top green end of the chili pepper, open it with a longwise cut and clean off its inner membrane. Chili pepper seed are very hot so it’s up to you whether or not to keep them all or get rid of them. Just consider that this sauce must be carachterised by a hot note(step 1 - pic. A).
      With a grater or a zester, finely grate the pecorino romano cheese and set aside(step 1 - pic. C).


      Note about salt and water for pasta

      If you think you might forget to salt water before adding pasta, you can salt water right after putting it on heat. This can become a safe routine, but the commonly unknown result of this is that it will require a longer time to come to the boiling temperature of 100ºC. It would be better instead to wait for the boiling to start and then carefully add the salt. The addiction of salt at this stage causes a sudden increase of the temperature of the solution for a couple of seconds during which the water increases the bubbling and risks to pour out if the pan’s sides are not sufficiently high.

      So the right pan should be taller than its diameter and capacious enough to contain a good amount of water.

      The minimum ratio between water and pasta is 1lt every 100gr. Although, for small amount of pasta it’s better to use a fairly large and deep pan which will keep the water to temperature also after dropping the pasta in. So that’s why I prefer to use 5lt of water even just to cook a single portion of pasta.

      Another important detail of which to take care, is the right quantity of salt to add to the water. It depends on the quantity of salt the condiment for pasta is going to contain and the cooking time that pasta requires; not only on your personal taste.

      A normal dose of salt is 11-12gr per litre of water and it can be increased to a maximum of 14-15gr for those who like their food to be particularly savoury. When using ingredients which are already salty themselves, like bacon or ham, the dose can be lowered to a minimum of 9-10gr per litre of water, as well as when you know that you will bind pasta with a lot of its own cooking water.

      Keep also in mind that longer cooking time require smaller doses of salt whereas quicker cooking will need a larger dose.

  • 2.
    Frying the cheek lard with black pepper and chili pepper

    • The frying pan with the hot extra virgin olive oil (and the rind)
    • The sliced guanciale
    • The crushed black pepper
    • The chopped chili pepper
    • One wooden spoon or silicon spatula
    • One small plate of bowl

      When the olive oil has changed its colour(step 2 - pic. A) and has turned almost completely transparent, it means that it is hot enough for frying the cheek lard, which must become slightly crispy and golden on the edges.
      If you are using a heavy aluminum frying pan, this will have accumulated a lot of heat, so you might need to set the heat to a low power. Add the sliced guanciale and let it fry gently for about 3 or 4 minutes(step 2 - pic. B).
      Then, season with black pepper and add the chopped chili pepper(step 2 - pic. C-D). Let it all fry for another minute, then take it all out and set aside into a small bowl or plate(step 2 - pic. E).

  • 3.
    Cooking the peeled plum tomatoes and putting the pasta to boil

    • The frying oil with the hot fat
    • Peeled Plum Tomatoes - 400gr (tinned)
    • Salt - 4 gr or to taste
    • Half of the fried guanciale and chili peper - (part 1 of 2)
    • The boiling water in the saucepan
    • Salt* - 35gr
    • Bucatini - 240gr (or spaghetti or penne)
    • *If you want to use less water (not less than 3lt - see the main note about boiling pasta) then you can reduce the salt to 25gr. This dose percentage of salt is very low, since the guanciale will be savoury itself.

      Set the heat under the frying pan to a high power and add the 400gr of peeled plum tomatoes. Stir evenly and let it reduce for 5 to 6 minutes(step 3 - pic. A).
      Add the 35gr of salt to the boling water for pasta and add all bucatini in. Keep stirring them frequently for the first few minutes, so they will not stick to each other. If needed, cover with a lid but leaving a gap(step 3 - pic. B).
      When the tomato sauce has reduced, add half of the mixture of guanciale and chili pepper; the rest will be added at the last minute, so it will give the dish a more interesting texture(step 3 - pic. C).

      Note about the correct cooking point "al dente”

      “Al dente” literally means “to the tooth”. It indicates the perfect consistency that pasta, or any other food, should have at the end of the cooking process: not too soft and not too hard at chewing. Pasta cooked “al dente” maintains a harder consistency at the centre of the dough sheet which gives the diners a pleasant feeling of “biting” rather than “mushing” something under their teeth..

  • 4.
    Straining and binding the bucatini and the sauce

    • The frying oil with the sauce
    • The almost cooked bucatini
    • The second half of fried guanciale and chili pepper - (part 2 of 2)
    • The grated pecorino romano cheese
    • One ladle
    • One large strainer or a pasta server
    • Two wooden spoons or silicon spatulas (if necessary)

      Check the cooking time instructions on the pasta bag and remember that you will need to take the bucatini out of the water just one or two minutes earlier.
      Collect about 20ml or 25ml of cooking water with a ladle and put it aside in a small receptacle.
      Drain the pasta thoroughly with a strainer. As an alternative, you can use a pasta server and move the pasta directly from the saucepan to the frying pan.
      Immediately add the bucatini to the sauce, stir and toss quickly and add a small ladle of cooking liquor(step 4 - pic. A-B). Stir continuously and let the mixture reduce. Keep adding cooking liquor one ladle at a time until bucatini are perfectly cooked, always allowing the added water to reduce completely before adding more of it.
      Add three quarters of the grated pecorino romano cheese and the second half of the fried guanciale with chili pepper. Stir evenly(step 4 - pic. C).
      Serve immediately with the rest of the pecorino romano cheese sprinkled on top.

      Note about binding pasta

      As well as for rice, almost all recipes require pasta to be bound together with its sauce and tossed over heat. This allows the sauce to grab on the surface of pasta, wether it is smooth or lined or copper drawn, so that every forkful will have its perfect balance of flavours and textures. Otherwise, sauce would slip away while eating and you would end up with a good quantity of the sauce still on the bottom of the bowl.
      Another very good idea, even if not allowed by etiquette, is to eat pasta, any kind of pasta, with some nice fresh crusty bread. Bread’s starchy flavour enhances both flavours of sauce and pasta dough itself.

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