Pasta all'Amatriciana


One of the secrets to perfect Italian pasta is to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. If you master and understand this dish, you will understand the art of Italian pastas and pasta sauces which is all about putting very simple ingredients together in just the right way. Try using my Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce (see Notes).

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
2 servings

There's no way to actually win an argument about which pasta sauce or pasta dish is Italy's best, but that's not really the point. Arguing is fun, especially with Italians. Just being able to passionately make your case more than makes the effort worthwhile. I tried to do that in this Pasta all'Amatriciana video, although it was really more about showing why than explaining why.

I tried to do an "authentic" version, with one major exception: I used the Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce. But for the realist of real deals, we're supposed to use pure, finely crushed San Marzano tomatoes. So, if you don't have time to whip of a batch of that gorgeous sauce, don't feel too bad. Just open up a can of San Marzanos, and enjoy your even purer version.

Speaking of substitutions, if you can't find guanciale, pancetta really does a nice job in its place (but try to use a little more fat than meat). You can trim off the meatier sections and save that for pizza or a frittata, then use what's left for this dish. It's much more about the fat than the flesh here, and the richness it adds to the sauce really is the secret. The last major decision you'll have is which pasta shape to use. As long as there's some type of hole involved, I'm fine with your choice. No matter what that is, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Pasta all'Amatriciana
Chef John

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  • 4 ounces guanciale

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 4 ounces rigatoni pasta

  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine

  • 1 ½ cups fresh tomato sauce

  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • kosher salt to taste

  • 1 ½ ounces finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese


  1. Cut guanciale into 1-inch by 1/8-inch strips.

  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add guanciale and cook until well browned and fully rendered, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a bowl. Leave all fat in the pan.

  3. Start pasta: Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook rigatoni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until not quite done, about 10 minutes. You want it undercooked by at least 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.

  4. At the same time, add wine to the guanciale fat in the saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in tomato sauce and pepper; bring to a simmer.

  5. Transfer the almost fully-cooked pasta into the sauce using a slotted spoon; it's okay if some water gets in the sauce. Add guanciale and stir to combine. Season with salt. Cook and stir until pasta absorbs the sauce and finishes cooking, and the sauce thickens up, about 3 minutes. If the sauce gets too thick, add a splash of the pasta water.

  6. Turn off the heat and add some of the Pecorino cheese. Stir until melted, then repeat until all cheese has been added.

  7. Ladle into 2 bowls and serve.


Chef's Notes:

If you can't find guanciale, use pancetta. Use any pasta shape you like.

For best results, use with my Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce, or pureed San Marzano tomatoes.

Using wine is optional, but it adds a subtle acidity that will help cut through the richness of the dish.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

760 Calories
51g Fat
52g Carbs
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 2
Calories 760
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 51g 65%
Saturated Fat 18g 92%
Cholesterol 66mg 22%
Sodium 1254mg 55%
Total Carbohydrate 52g 19%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 13mg 65%
Calcium 264mg 20%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 748mg 16%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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