Bucatini All’amatriciana is a traditional Italian pasta dinner that’s sophisticated enough for dinner parties and date nights! Pasta is tossed in a sauce that’s made quickly and with ease. The sauce consists of key ingredients like guanciale, crushed red pepper flakes, tomatoes, and much more. Mangia!
Bucatini All’amatriciana. Say that five times fast! This quick and easy pasta dinner hails straight from Italy, and you can taste the authenticity in every bite. While I’m shamelessly a big fan of Americanized Italian dinners, I’ve got to hand it to our friends across the sea – they sure know how to make a delicious, boldly flavored pasta sauce that really shouldn’t be altered!
Let’s discuss the ingredients at play here that really can’t be omitted if you plan on keeping things authentic. First and foremost, there’s an ingredient here called guanciale, which is curated pork. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, pancetta is a fine swap, but make sure you don’t omit the pork! It adds a rich signature flavor that adds depth to the vibrant tomatoes.
Another big player in this sauce is the crushed red pepper flakes. Bucatini All’amatriciana has a noticeable kick to it, but it’s not overwhelming. I like that the amount of red pepper flakes I add creates a note of spice, but not enough that your eyes will be watering. The black pepper contributes to the heat, but in a unique musky way that really helps develop the savory flavors in this otherwise fresh sauce.
How to Make It
Boil the pasta. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat and cook the pasta until al dente.
Cook the guanciale. While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or deep sided skillet over medium heat. Add the guanciale to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly crispy.
Add the spices. Stir in the red pepper flakes and black pepper. Continue cooking for 15 seconds.
Stir in the tomatoes. Slowly add the tomatoes to the pan with the juice and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
Add the pasta. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the sauce. Toss to coat.
Add the pasta water. Add the reserved pasta water to the skillet and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Add the final touches, and enjoy! Stir in the salt and cheese. Serve immediately.
Ingredients Notes for Bucatini All’amatriciana
- Guanciale – This curated meat comes from pork jowels or cheeks. If you don’t find any at the grocery store, you can use pancetta in a pinch. However, I will make a trip to my local Italian butcher just for this cut of meat so I can keep the meal as authentic as possible.
- Bucatini – Essentially, bucatini is the same thing as spaghetti, but it has a hole running through the middle of it. I like to use it in this recipe, again, for authenticity’s sake. With that being said, spaghetti is a perfectly fine substitute!
- Black Pepper – For the most noticeable flavor of this key ingredient, be sure to grind the peppercorns yourself! Freshly ground black pepper always yields the best flavor.
- Kosher Salt – Keep the sodium down in this classic dish by using coarse, or kosher salt, as opposed to iodized salt.
- Parmesan Cheese – I know it may sound like a pain to freshly grate the parmesan cheese yourself, but I promise the end results are SO very worth the effort! And if you really don’t have time to grate the cheese by hand, then head to the deli at the grocery store and see if they sell containers of freshly grated parmesan. It makes all the difference.
Pour yourself a glass of vino and enjoy these authentic pasta dinners!
Get the Recipe: Bucatini All’amatriciana
- 1 pound dried bucatini or spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound guanciale or pancetta
- 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 28 ounce can peeled tomatoes with juice, hand crushed or chopped with kitchen shears
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat and cook the pasta until al dente.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or deep sided skillet over medium heat.
- Add the guanciale to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly crispy.
- Stir in the red pepper flakes and black pepper. Continue cooking for 15 seconds.
- Slowly add the tomatoes to the pan with the juice and reduce the heat to low.
- Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the sauce.
- Toss to coat.
- Add the reserved pasta water to the skillet and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the salt and cheese.
- Serve immediately.