May 7, 2009

Bucatini all’amatriciana

Bucatini all’amatriciana is another very Roman recipe, a red version of spaghetti alla gricia, where the influence of Neapolitan cuisine appears with the use of tomato. While the original recipe comes from the town of Amatrice (now in the Lazio region but before in the Abruzzo region), it is in Rome where people eat bucatini with this sauce. But in Amatrice, sugo all’amatriciana, which means sauce in the Amatrice style, is almost always served with spaghetti. Actually Amatrice claims the invention of spaghetti.

Sugo all’amatriciana is very simple to prepare, although lots of people make the mistake of adding onion to it. Even Italians do it. Even some Romans do it, but people never do it in Amatrice. I was watching Lidia Bastianich on TV once, and I almost fell down when she was blanching some onions for her amatriciana. Good Lord! I must say though that in Italy adding onion to a sauce for pasta is a question of personal taste, but you must take note of the interesting lack of onion in a lot of traditional recipes: puttanesca, amatriciana, arrabbiata, carbonara … no onion at all! And yet, especially when sauce is prepared outside Italy, people tend to use onion. In Chile, where pasta is one of the most common dishes, people use big chunks of onion in their sauces. I’ve heard of some Italians that freak out at how oniony Chilean sauces are! (And I’ve heard of lots of Italians who freak out at how garlicky American sauces are, but that’s another story.)

1 lb bucatini
4-5 oz guanciale
12 oz passata di pomodoro (good quality tomato sauce) or canned San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup white wine
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pinch peperoncino (red pepper flakes)
4 Tbsp pecorino romano cheese, grated
Salt, black pepper

Dice the guanciale. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the diced guanciale with the olive oil and peperoncino. When the guanciale begins to lose its fat, add the wine. Sauté until the guanciale turns golden. Take the guanciale from the saucepan and reserve. Start cooking the pasta in salted boiling water. While the pasta is cooking, heat the tomato sauce in the same saucepan where you sautéed the guanciale. Add the guanciale and continue heating the sauce until the pasta is al dente. When the pasta is ready, drain it and toss it directly into the saucepan with the sauce. Give a quick stir, add some black pepper and serve with pecorino cheese!

In Rome some locals call this sauce matriciana. That’s why some people argue that the Roman version with bucatini (and onion according to some other people) has nothing to do with the amatriciana from Amatrice (with absolutely no onion, often served with spaghetti, and sometimes using pancetta instead of guanciale, the latter being considered too poor as an ingredient). Actually they claim that the word matriciana comes from the Latin word matrix in reference to motherhood and matriarchy: an argument that, they claim, shows how ancient the Roman recipe is (they forget that tomatoes were introduced from America though). However, a common feature of Romanesco or the Italian dialect from Rome is dropping vowels, so not surprisingly people simply say matriciana in Rome.
Posted by Daziano at 8:23 PM |  
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