Celebrating Amatrice. {Bucatini All’Amatriciana 2 Ways}

Last weekend was to be the 50th annual sagra, a food celebration of the beloved pasta dish from Amatrice, Italy “Spaghetti all’Amatriciana.”

As you well know, Amatrice was hit by a devastating earthquake on August 24th leaving hundreds of people dead and hundreds more homeless. When this happened food lovers from around the world joined in by supporting the earthquake victims & families by holding “virtual” sagras in their homes and communities.

It’s a recipe based on bacon, onion, peeled tomatoes, pepper, oil and salt and lots of love.

 -Giuseppe Vaccaro, chef

To hold a #virtualsagra, you make Amatrice’s famous dish, share it with family and friends and donate to earthquake relief efforts through the charity of your choice. (See the bottom of the post for a list of ideas)

Food has brought people together for centuries, and what better way to support and remember the people and town of Amatrice than by cooking and sharing with others? I was thrilled to read this idea online, and decided to join in.

So far, we’ve held 2 dinner parties making Amatriciana and sharing the story of the dish and the town, and encourage others to do the same and support one of the many organizations on the ground in Italy helping with the aftermath of the earthquake.

What’s next? I’m dreaming of holding a long table fundraising dinner in my community. I hope the movement spreads and snowballs, continuing the tradition of food, family & fellowship that Italy is famous for. We could all use more of that in our lives.

Now on to the recipes. I’m sure there are hundreds of opinions on what makes up a good Amatriciana. However, to make an authentic Amatriciana you only need a few key ingredients:

  • Tomatoes
  • Pecorino
  • Chilies
  • Guanciale (cured pork cheek)

There is wide debate on whether onions or garlic should be used, whether black pepper has a part in the flavor of this sauce, if you should add wine or olive oil, and what shape of pasta you should use. The traditional recipe calls for Spaghetti, but I prefer the spaghetti’s thicker friend, Bucatini. I’ve also had it with a short pasta like a rigatoni which is good.

Traditionally, part of the cooked guanciale is kept in the pan and cooked into the sauce. To make it vegetarian friendly, I keep it all out of the pan, serving on the side for people to add if they like.  I don’t know what it would be called because this most likely makes it unequivocally not Amatriciana, but I have many family & friends who are vegetarian and I thought this would be a good option.

For my dinner parties, I thought it would be fun to try 2 different recipes from 2 of my favorite food writers, Rachel Roddy [easyazon_link identifier=”1455585165″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”n” tag=”amerryfeast-20″](My Kitchen in Rome)[/easyazon_link] and Katie Parla, [easyazon_link identifier=”0804187185″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”n” tag=”amerryfeast-20″](Tasting Rome)[/easyazon_link].

The Amatriciana recipes in their cookbooks vary widely, and they were both equally delicious. I tweaked both recipes a bit, for my own tastes. I highly recommend both of these cookbooks- they are both filled with gorgeous words and recipes and photos that will whisk you away to Rome the moment you open the cover. <3

Rachel’s Classic Amatriciana
Recipe Type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Heather (adapted from Rachel Roddy, [url href=”http://amzn.to/2bOSId3″ target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”]My Kitchen in Rome[/url])
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
This dish comes together so easily you can make it in a matter of minutes if you want. I enjoy cooking the sauce a little longer if I have time, to let the tomatoes cook down which adds a richness to the sauce. Rachel’s recipe does not have onions or pepper flakes in it, she uses a fresh chile. I didn’t have a fresh chile pepper so I substituted pepper flakes.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Guanciale, cubed (can sub. pancetta, or bacon if needed)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 lg cans good quality canned whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 c Dry White wine
  • Crushed red pepper flakes or a small fresh chile minced (to taste)
  • 1 lb Bucatini
  • 3/4 c. grated pecorino cheese (plus more for passing at the table)
  • Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. In a large shallow pan, cook guanciale or pancetta until crisp.
  2. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Add chopped onion to pan and cook over medium high heat until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add white wine and deglaze pan, cooking down slightly.
  5. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
  6. Cover pan, cooking over medium heat for 20-30 minutes or more if desired.
  7. Stir occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes and smashing them with a wooden spoon.
  8. While the tomatoes are cooking, Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil and cook bucatini to [b]very al dente.[/b]
  9. Scoop pasta directly from the pan into the tomato sauce.
  10. Using tongs, mix the pasta and sauce carefully together and add a ladle or 2 of pasta water to the pan. Let the pasta mix & cook with the sauce for several minutes.
  11. Add pecorino cheese and mix thoroughly.
  12. Taste and add salt if necessary.[br]
  13. [b]To Serve:[/b][br]
  14. Dish up in shallow pasta bowls, top with crispy guanciale, and pass additional pepper flakes & pecorino at the table.
Notes
Guanciale is difficult to find in the US. You can substitute pancetta or bacon if you can’t find it. Although purists would say it isn’t Amatriciana without the guanciale! [br][br]To make it vegetarian friendly, keep the pancetta on the side for people to add if they like.
Katie’s Summer Amatriciana
Recipe Type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Heather (adapted from Tasting Rome by Katie Parla)
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
Katies version is light and summery and has a great balance of sweetness and saltiness. We loved it! I also changed a few things, adding wine and onions to the mix because I love them.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Guanciale or Pancetta, cubed
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups grape tomatoes
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1 cup Pecorino cheese, plus more for passing at the table
  • Fresh basil, cut chiffonade style
  • 1 lb. Bucatini pasta
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large shallow pan, cook guanciale or pancetta until crisp.
  2. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Add chopped onion & cherry tomatoes to pan and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add white wine & red pepper flakes to the pan, cook over medium high heat stirring occasionally and letting tomatoes cook down and burst. You can speed the process along by smashing them with a wooden spoon.
  5. While the tomatoes are cooking, Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil and cook bucatini to very al dente. (it will continue to cook once you add it to the sauce)
  6. Scoop pasta directly from the pan into the tomato sauce.
  7. Using tongs, mix carefully together and add a ladle or 2 of pasta water to the pan. Let the pasta mix & cook with the sauce for several minutes.
  8. Add pecorino cheese and mix thoroughly.
  9. Remove from heat, add chopped basil.
  10. Taste and add salt if necessary.[br]
  11. [b]To Serve:[/b]
  12. Dish up in shallow pasta bowls, top with crispy guanciale, and pass additional red pepper flakes & pecorino at the table.
Notes
Guanciale is difficult to find in the US. You can substitute pancetta or bacon if you can’t find it. Although purists would say it isn’t Amatriciana without the guanciale! [br][br]To make it vegetarian friendly, keep the pancetta on the side for people to add if they like.

I hope you celebrate Amatrice by making whatever version of Amatriciana you love,  I’d love to know if you try one of these or hold your own #virtualsagra!

-Heather xx

** By donating directly to agencies that are on the ground in Central Italy, you are helping in the quickest way possible. Here are some ideas:

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