Here’s to you Amatrice:
Take a bite of Amatrice’s legacy a hearty classic, Spaghetti all’amatriciana. This local staple is pure comfort food handed down from pastoral ancestors.
Thanks to Paolo Campana, a graphic artist and blogger, #AMAtriciana, an initiative to collect funds for the areas of central Italy devastated by the recent earthquake has been launched: Through “spaghetti amatriciana”, the dish that has become the symbol of Amatrice, restaurateurs throughout the world are being asked to participate in person and help those who are in real need.
For every plate of “spaghetti all’amatriciana” ordered in participating restaurants, 2 euros will be donated to the Italian Red Cross: one by the restaurateur and one by the customer. If you are a restaurant who would like to participate, go here for more info.
Not a restaurant, but want to show some love to the people and the city of Amatrice? Make your own spaghetti all’amatriciana at home. There is much debate around this dish and what ingredients are used. Purists say that the ancient version of this dish was created a few centuries ago by local shepherds and was prepared sans tomatoes most likely because people didn’t know about its existence or culinary uses. The initial version without tomatoes is known today as “pasta all gricia”, however, during the late 1700s, tomatoes began to show up in kitchens and eventually made it into the “gricia” sauce to make what is now known as amatriciana sauce.
Following the traditional Matriciana way this sauce has six ingredients and six ingredients only: Guanciale (pork jowl), pecorino cheese, chili pepper, black pepper, white wine and tomatoes from San Marzano. No onion and no garlic! If you want to eat your spaghetti all’amatriciana in its pure form, here is your recipe:
1/4 lb or 100 grams guanciale
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 or 2 whole red chili peppers (fresh or dried)
1/4 cup or 50 ml dry white wine
14 oz or 350 grams canned whole San Marzano tomatoes
3/4 lb or 400 grams spaghetti
salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup or 75 grams Pecorino cheese, grated
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add coarse salt and cook the spaghetti until very al dente or just about done. The pasta will continue cooking to al dente when it is paired with the sauce in a skillet later on in the recipe.
2. Slice the guanciale into think strips. In a large sauce pan, add the extra virgin olive oil, guanciale and red chili pepper.
3. Cook over medium heat until the guanciale becomes golden. At this point remove 1/4 of the guanciale to keep it crisp, turn on high heat and add the white wine to deglaze the pan. Cook until the wine has evaporated, lower the heat, and add the tomatoes. Crush them with the back of a wooden spoon or like the Nonna’s do — with your hands. Cook the tomatoes at a simmer until the sauce thickens a bit about 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
4. Next add the al dente pasta to the pan and continue cooking with the tomatoes. Add some of the starchy pasta water to the skillet, which will facilitate the cooking and make the sauce creamy. When the pasta is done add the reserved crisp guanciale pieces and freshly grated pecorino to taste.