"Amatriciana is a great Roman classic, but there's no one recipe; everyone has their own spin on it," says Sarah Cicolini, head chef and co-owner of Rome's Santo Palato. "Like Sora Lella, the late and legendary Roman chef, I use a touch of vinegar. This trick, along with the short cooking time for the sauce, keeps it light and pleasantly acidic. I finish the dish with some crisp guanciale for a contrast of texture."
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 400 gm (5 cups) Pecorino Romano, finely grated
- 320 gm guanciale (see note), cut into lardons
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 litre (4 cups) tomato passata
- 500 gm dried rigatoni
- 1Dry-roast peppercorns in a small frying pan over low heat, swirling until very fragrant (4-5 minutes). Cool then coarsely grind with a mortar and pestle. Combine with Pecorino Romano.
- 2Cook guanciale in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fat renders and guanciale is crisp (7 minutes). Drain guanciale on paper towels, leaving 2 tbsp fat in the pan and reserving 1 tbsp fat separately.
- 3Add vinegar to pan and cook until evaporated (1 minute), then add tomato passata and simmer until thickened (15 minutes).
- 4Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until just short of al dente (2-3 minutes less than cooking time on packet). Drain, reserving a few cups of pasta water.
- 5Add pasta to the sauce, increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly and adding pasta water as needed to keep pan from getting dry, until al dente (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat, then stir in reserved fat, half the guanciale and a handful of pecorino mixture. Add most of the remaining pecorino mixture, stirring constantly and loosening the sauce with a small ladleful of pasta water at a time as needed, until sauce is coating the pasta. Serve topped with remaining guanciale and pecorino mixture.
Guanciale, cured pork cheek, is similar to pancetta and is available from Italian butchers and delicatessens.
Drink suggestion: Earthy red Cesanese. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.