CHIAVARI, Italy - There was a time, before 1935 to be precise, that the small village of Amatrice was part of the region of Abruzzo. It was in that Abruzzese village, in that “before” time, that the delicious pasta dish l’amatriciana originated.
In the beginning it was a simple dish of pasta, bacon, actually guanciale (cheek) and grated cheese. Then Italy met the tomato, tomato was added to the dish and the recipe spread throughout Italy like a wild fire in the August.
In 1935 Italy changed. The government changed, there was a new rule of order and one of the changes involved the border of Abruzzo and Lazio. As fate would have it, Amatrice found itself no longer part of Abruzzo, but in Lazio and its favorite local dish soon came to represent the typical cooking of Rome.
But every August the 2,700 inhabitants of Amatrice still celebrate the dish that made them famous with a Sagra degli Spaghetti all’Amatriciana. Here’s the contact information: Sagra degli Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, http://www.amatriciana.org/
The recipe for a true Amatriciana needs just these few ingredients: spaghetti; guanciale or bacon; Pecorino cheese; peeled tomatoes; a little olive oil, extra virgin olive oil; a little dry white wine; red pepperoncino. Some cooks now add a little onion and maybe a little garlic, but true connoisseurs of this flavorful dish call that “heritic” Amatriciana.
There's a recipe for Amatriciana posted below, but if there is a trip to Rome in your future, you might want to save this list of the top ten restaurants in the Capital for Amatriana aka Matriciane and try the real deal.
Sora Lella di Aldo Fabrizi, via Ponte Quattro Capi 16, Roma
La Amatriciana di Arcangelo Dandini, via Belli 59, Roma
|Alla Vecchia Roma Via di Monte Testaccio 30, Roma|
|Osteria La Gensola, Piazza Gensola 15, Roma |
The recipe below, from Bon Appetit Magazine, does include onion and garlic http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/bucatini-all-amatriciana-2 but you can leave them out if you want.
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. thinly sliced guanciale, pancetta, or chopped unsmoked bacon
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz. can peeled tomatoes with juices, crushed by hand (I think they mean with a fork or potato masher)
12 oz. dried bucatini or spaghetti
1/4 cup grated Pecorino (about 1 oz.)
Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add guanciale and sauté until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes. Add pepper flakes and black pepper; stir for 10 seconds. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 2 minutes before al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
Add drained pasta to sauce in skillet and toss to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. (Add a little pasta water if sauce is too dry.) Stir in cheese and transfer pasta to warmed bowls.