Bucatini all’Amatriciana… and the Winner of “Table Manners”


Bucatini all’ Amatriciana is one of those quick pasta dishes that draws raves from unexpecting guests. Guanciale, the pig’s jowl bacon, is the star of the show here and one of the rare foods that makes you burn the calories before you actually eat it – chances are you’ll have to trek across town just to find this sucker. You could of course substitute it for bacon or pancetta but it’ll be a little bit like trying to win a marathon on clutches. For the best odds of ooohh’s and ahhh’s at the dinner table go find yourself some guanciale, or make your own if you live in a place large enough to have a porky smell buffer zone and/or understanding mates.

After experimenting quite a bit with this pasta i found that imported canned San Marzano cherry tomatoes works best here. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, and i’m not afraid to repeat it: canned cherry tomatoes imported from Italy beat the crap out of the fresh stuff (unless of course you have access to extra-premium tomatoes which will be out-of-season before you can say out-of-season. Done.). We’re after the sweetness here that balances out the deep porky flavor so perfectly, and combined with red onions, garlic and red pepper flakes it creates the ideal ‘yang’ to the other rich ingredients. Pecorino-Romano cheese is tossed at the end to make this pasta dish extra luscious. And if the person sitting across the table tries to jump on you after a few bites… you’re on your own.


I know i’ve been a bit of a slacker with the last giveaway but it’s finally time to announce the winner of “Table Manners” by Mia King. I randomly asked someone to give me a number between 1 and 59 on twitter (not saying why) and @chefashbabe tweeted back number # 17 within seconds. I’m happy to announce the winner of “Table Manners” is comment #17: 5 Star Foodie. Congrats! Contact me soon so i can arrange shipping. Next giveaway coming up soon. Stay tuned.

  • Bucatini all’Amatriciana

    • Serves 4
  • bucatini-allamatriciana-4

    • For the pasta:
    • 3/4 lb guanciale, thinly sliced
    • 1 tablespoon XV olive oil
    • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • salt & black pepper, to taste
    • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
    • 1 can San Marzano cherry tomatoes, with the juice
    • 1 lb bucatini
    • To finish:
    • 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated
    • Chopped parsley (optional)


  • Bring an 8 quart pot of water to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons of salt.
  • Add the olive oil to a large saute pan over medium-low heat and add the guanciale slices. Cook them slowly until they render their fat and become crisp, about 10 min.
  • bucatini-allamatriciana-2

  • Add the sliced red onion and garlic to the pan (do not discard the fat, Misérable!) and continue cooking slowly for 10 more minutes, or until the onion is very soft. Meanwhile, put the cherry tomatoes + juice in a small bowl and crush with the back of a fork.
  • Cook the bucatini ‘al dente’.
  • bucatini-allamatriciana-3

  • Add the tomatoes to the pan and keep cooking on slow heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little bit of the cooking water to the pan if the sauce gets too thick.
  • Add the Bucatini and toss with Pecorino-Romano and chopped parsley if using. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
  • bucatini-allamatriciana-8

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , ,

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    How exciting! Thank you so much! And thanks to @chefashbabe for picking #17 :) I’m looking forward to reading the book! Bucatini recipe looks excellent!

  • Sarah Welch

    I’ve been making a version of Amatriciana for years, and it’s a fave in our household. I try to use San Marzano tomatoes if I remember to get them when I’m STL (live in the middle of no where in MO). I do use bacon, though–no chance for guanciale here, but I do buy locally cured bacon that has much more flavor than the national brand crap.

  • jen

    wait. seriously? i can still taste the tin from the LAST [the very last ever…unless i’m camping] canned tomatoes I used.

  • http://colloquialcooking.com Colloquial Cook

    Love the ads on your blog. There’s one right now left of the shiny-licious plateful of pasta that claims “Cut down 3lb of your belly every week by using this one weird tip” and an arrow points straight at the guanciale in the picture.

    Hmm. Is it because you literally cut off 3lb of your belly *and then cure it*? Talk about a weird diet.

  • http://mllenoelle.wordpress.com mlle noëlle of simmer down

    I’ve never seen canned cherry tomatoes, and I’ve shopped in a lot of “specialty” markets… until I saw the photo, I thought maybe you meant plum tomatoes and just misspoke! I’m assuming canned San Marzano plum tomatoes would be a second choice?
    (and, @jen, I think if you spring for a decent brand of Italian tomatoes you shouldn’t have any tinny-tasting issues. I’ve only notices that problem with really cheap product.)

  • zenchef

    Natasha — Congrats! The book will be on its way to you very soon.

    Jen — You need to try better quality canned tomatoes (like San Marzano). No tin taste. They’re actually very good because the tomatoes are picked at the peak of ripeness.

    Claire — LOL

    Mlle Noelle — Yes, San Marzano plum tomatoes would be a good second choice.

  • http://www.fuhkit.com JD

    Any chance you know a butcher on Long Island with the guanciale? Ive tried a few around mid suffolk and so far no one knows what Im talking about.

  • http://culinarytypes.blogspot.com T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types

    Any tips on where to find the canned cherry tomatoes? Is that a Whole Foods item?

  • zenchef

    JD — Not sure about where to find Guanciale on Long Island. If your butcher doesn’t know what it is you definitely need a better butcher! In Manhattan, you can find it in Buon Italia in Chelsea Market and many other shops. You can order it online from their website.

    T.W.– I use this brandfrom San Marzano and it’s very good. I buy it at Grace’s Market but i’ve seen it a lot in Little Italy too. Not sure about Whole Food. Otherwise you can always order it online.

  • http://thesplitpea.blogspot.com Eralda

    I love Bucatini and anything with porky goodness. Beautiful photos as well.

  • andy

    man i love guanciale. best stuff in the world. Oyama in vancouver used to have some, not sure if they are still making it.

  • http://pixieate.blogspot.com pixen

    Simply lovely and yummylicious! Now to hunt for guanciale!

  • http://www.pityinthekitchen.blogspot.com pity

    lovely site you have here, i il be back, your recipes are delicious, this pasta dish is on my list already, beautiful!

    cheers from london,


  • http://www.weareneverfull.com we are never full

    ah.. this is why I love you – you told (and scolded! YAY!) everyone in your recipe to NOT discard the guanciale fat. That’s exactly the same thing I put when we did this dish on the blog – the extra fat is what really flavors this dish and makes it extra porky. i’ll never forget the first time I ate this in rome in the jewish ghetto. jonny ordered it and I kept tasting it – and tasting and tasting. i couldn’t place the flavor and why a simple red sauce was soooo good. i had never tasted bacon or pancetta in the us that tasted like that. what i didn’t realize was that guanciale existed and that it is unbelievably flavorful and delicious.

    we had smuggled a small chunk of guanciale into JFK airport so we could make it at home but now you can actually buy it quite easily in nyc. i’m SO happy to see that. also, burrata is everywhere now – another thing i was dying to eat the second i got back from italy 4 years ago.

    i’ve droned on… your website is the first comment i’ve made in a LONG time. it’s like i’ve been stuck in a cave and now have someone to talk to!

  • zenchef

    We are never full — Wow. This gotta be the longest comment i ever received. Thank you guys! We’ve got to cook together someday. I mean it!

  • http://analisfirstamendment.blogspot.com/ Anali

    Congratulations to the winner and to you Zen on having one of your creations featured in the book! It looks like a great read! : )

  • http://ouichef.typepad.com Steve

    I couldn’t agree with you more about the San Marzano tomatoes. I rarely see the cherry tomatoes canned, but can get the romas in many places. They are consistently outstanding and will beat all but the freshest local heirloom picked at the height of ripeness. Once that short seasonal window has closed, its San Marzanos all the way.

  • http://arimichan01.blogger.com Thao Phan

    Wow that looks super easy and super yummy!

  • Herb

    If it ain’t guanciale, it aint amtriciana!