Bucatini all’amatriciana

There’s a debate about the exact name and origins of this dish. In fact you can find it written as Bucatini all’Amatriciana or Bucatini alla Matriciana as well as Spaghetti alla matriciana. As far as its origins go it seems to come  either from Rome or from the town of Amatrice in the Abruzzo region until 1927 now part of Lazio.

The ingredients are almost the same bucatini (they’re a little bit thicker than spaghetti but they are hollow inside), guanciale which is cured and unsmoked pork jowls, canned tomatoes, red hot pepper and Pecorino cheese. Not everybody adds onions, I do because it makes the sauce sweeter and tastier. If I don’t find guanciale I use pancetta which is non smoked bacon, cut in cubes. I make another exception to the recipe I prefer short pasta like pennette or pasta shells.


1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti
1/2 medium onion
1 cup guanciale cut in cubes but I prefer pancetta* because is leaner
3 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 to 1 tsp. red hot pepper
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated Pecorino romano cheese*


1. Warm up a large nonstick skillet add the oil and when it’s hot put the thinly onion sliced.
2. Cook it until soft add the bacon and let it cook for about 5 minutes. If the bacon is too fat cook it beforehand and eliminate the extra fat and then add it to the onion.
3. Cut the tomatoes in cubes and add them to the onion and the pancetta. Add then salt and pepper to taste.
4. Cover the sauce and let it simmer for half an hour.
5. Prepare the pasta as directed and when is ready add it to the sauce in the skillet and mix.
6. Serve it hot and sprinkle with fresh grated Pecorino romano cheese.

* If you don’t find the Pecorino romano cheese you can substitute it with Parmesan cheese. Please don’t buy the cheese in the box, buy genuine Italian Parmesan.

2 Responses to “Bucatini all’amatriciana”

  1. gerico said:

    Patty, Amatrice is in Lazio Region. http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amatrice
    Bucatini all’amatriciana.Matriciana is a big mistake.

  2. Patty said:

    @Gerico: Thanks for your input. You’re right Gerico, Amatrice is Lazio now but was in the Abruzzi region until 1927. In some of my cookbooks, and I don’t want to name names it is also written alla matriciana.

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