Gricia’s Beautiful Daughter-Amatriciana


As previously discussed, Gricia is the ancestor of Amatriciana, one of the most famous pasta dishes in the world.  Although I did not include Amatriciana (pronounced Matriciana by Romans) on my list of Roman mother sauces, I feel a sense of obligation to write a few lines about the dish and give you my personal recipe for it.

Amatriciana sauce, which evolved from the tomatoless Gricia, originated in the village of Amatrice.  Both Amatrice and Roma claim the dish as their own, and there are as many Amatriciana recipes out there as there are chefs. The addition of tomato to Gricia likely happened during the 18th century.  When cooks introduced onions, olive oil, and Parmigiano is debatable; regardless, purists of the dish oppose the use of those ingredients and claim that both Gricia and Amatriciana should only include guanciale (and not pancetta), Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, and, for Amatriciana, tomato sauce.

Now let’s talk about the type of dry pasta that should be used.  In Amatrice they always go for spaghetti. Romans, on the other hand. always use bucatini (a thick spaghetti with a hollow center). Rigatoni or penne, however, are also very good substitutes.

This is my version of Bucatini all’Amatriciana. This recipe serves 4.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana


1 lb. bucatini pasta

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

10 oz. guanciale (or pancetta)

1 small yellow onion chopped fine

1 14 oz. can Italian plum, peeled tomatoes (preferably pomodori San Marzano)

3 oz. Pecorino Romano cheese

Salt and black pepper to taste

Crushed red pepper (optional…although I prefer to add it)

Set a large pot of well salted water to boil. Wait until you add tomatoes to sauce (see below) to add pasta to boiling water, and let it cook until it is al dente.

Meanwhile, slice the guanciale into 1/16 of an inch thick and 1 inch wide strips and place in a cold sauté pan. Bring the heat up to medium/high making sure not to burn the guanciale by stirring often. Once the pork is crispy, you can add the onions and let them slowly cook on medium heat for about ten minutes until translucent and soft but not quite caramelized. Add plum tomatoes and let cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, making sure to occasionally crush tomatoes with a fork.  After the tomatoes have cooked, add the pasta and the Pecorino to the pan and let cook on low heat for about a minute (this is just to bind the ingredients).

Serve and enjoy.

Grazie Altrettanto!

Since Easter is fast approaching, next week we will take a brief break from our discussion of the Roman mother sauces and, instead, dive into some delicious recipes that will be the perfect accompaniments to your holiday dinner. I know that many of you will be serving ham, but how about the side dishes?  Let’s make sure those are not an afterthought!  Don’t buy your groceries too early. On Monday morning, meet me here at where I will be posting some side dishes that I’m sure will be showstoppers!

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