Spaghetti all'amatriciana is one of the most iconic Roman dishes. The traditional recipe calls for guanciale, a sort of bacon that comes from the fat around the pig's cheek. In a pinch you can replace it with smoked pancetta or bacon.
200g guanciale, cut into strips
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 red chilli, diced
500g tinned whole plum tomatoes
150g grated Pecorino Romano cheese
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In a large frying pan, cook the guanciale in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add onion and chilli then cook for 10 minutes over medium heat.
Roughly chop the tomatoes then add to the pan. Cook 20 minutes over medium heat, uncovered.
In the meantime, cook spaghetti in plenty of salted water until "al dente", or according to the time listed on the packet.
Drain pasta and add to the sauce in the pan. Stir and cook few seconds, just to mix pasta and sauce.
Serve each portion with a generous sprinkle of Pecorino cheese.
Guanciale is a bacon like product that is made from the cheek rather than the belly. You can substitute the guanciale with pancetta or smoked bacon if you can't find the real thing.
A few tips to perfectly cook pasta, as Italians would do: use a large amount of water, around 1L per 100g of pasta; add the pasta only when the water is boiling, stir, then bring back to the boil, stirring from time to time. Cook 1 minute less than the time suggested on the packet; drain and reserve some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and finish cooking, adding some of the reserved water as needed. Serve straightaway! Also, never rinse pasta, you'll lose the starch needed to keep it moist.