Just north of Rome, heading northeast towards the Adriatic Sea, skirting the region of Umbria, lies the town of Amatrice recently leveled by the horrific earthquake that hit this area of Italy only a few weeks ago. Not many may know that this same town has given its name to one of the most iconic Roman pasta dishes, Spaghetti alla Matriciana (In the style of Amatrice). In remembrance of the many who lost their lives and those who lost their homes I am publishing the recipe for this delightful dish so that all who make it will think of those who were struck by this horrible tragedy. So make this dish with love, respect and with good thoughts.
Ingredients: (For 4 hungry people)
1 Lb of Spaghetti or Bucatini
4 oz of Guanciale or Pancetta diced into ¼ inch pieces.
Pecorino Romano (grated)
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes (Preferably Marzano)
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Make a basic tomato sauce by heating a can of pealed tomatoes in a medium saucepan with a pinch of red pepper flakes and a tsp of salt. Let cook until tomatoes breakdown and create a smooth sauce. Set aside.
In a dry pan add the guanciale and over a low flame and render the meat until it gives off it’s oils and crisps up. Be careful not to burn so keep an eye on it – when meat is well rendered and crisp add a couple ladles of tomato sauce and cook on low flame at a simmer for about 10 minutes.
In the meantime salt a pot of water (so it tastes like the sea) and bring to a boil, add pasta and cook 6-7 minutes until al dente. (Don’t over cook, this is a sin…)
Add pasta to the pan along with a fist full of pecorino and amalgamate well by tossing and adding more cheese as desired. (In Italian this process is called “mantecare”). Finish with a drizzle of good olive oil, serve with a sprinkle of additional cheese, say a prayer (whatever your faith may be), and enjoy.