Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cooking Italy: Amatriciana (Tomato Sauce with Pancetta & Chile Pepper)

This weeks recipe for the Cooking Italy Group was Amatriciana (Tomato Sauce with Pancetta & Chile Pepper). 

Before we talk about the recipe, I should explain. I grew up a Chef Boyardee kind of girl. Canned, jarred, it made no difference. Just dump it in a pot, heat it up dump it on a plate and call it dinner. After I read the recipe, I was a bit underwhelmed by the ingredients and pretty sure it was not going to taste all that great.

I am happy to be very wrong.

And I am now forever spoiled when it comes to Italian food now thanks to Marcella Hazan.

The only mistake I would say I made was starting to cook the sauce before i had the water boiling but that's because my pots take forever to boil water, even if i crank it to high. So I had the sauce done before the water even began to full boil and had to wait another 15 minutes with it simmering before I had cooked pasta.

The biggest surprise though was how good it tasted. You have to realize that I have flirted with cooking before so I know how good some things can taste homemade versus processed. But I think this was the first time that I've made pasta sauce from scratch that didn't involve sugar and a lot of ingredients.  The Amatriciana just had tomatoes, bacon (BACON! BACON! BACON BACON BACON!), onions, salt, white pepper, parmesan cheese and  romano cheese.

Seriously though. Real food tastes amazing when you just eat it as it's supposed to be. Only shame is I didn't discover this earlier.

Even more amazing was that it wasn't too difficult to make. I cheated a bit by using regular bacon instead of pancetta. Also I am not a chile pepper girl (or spicy foods in general) so I used white pepper in its place.Also, I used Penne pasta in place of the bucatini as it was a lot easier to find at Jewel. But this is still a keeper in my house now.

Amatriciana Sauce with Penne Pasta
from Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking"

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion chopped fine
1/4 inch slice pancetta cut into 1/2 wide/1 inch long slices
1 1/2 cups plum tomato(drained & cut)
pepper to taste (original recipe called for chili pepper)
3 tbsp parmigana reggiano cheese
2 tbsp romano cheese
1 pound penne pasta

Put oil, butter and onion in saucepan and turn heat to medium. Saute onion until pale gold, then add pancetta. Cook for one minute, stirring once or twice. Add tomatoes,pepper and salt and cook in uncovered pot at a steady, gentle simmer for 25 minutes. Toss pasta with sauce then add cheeses and toss again.


  1. That a nice little serving of comfort !!!! ...Does not look like the creation of a... chef boyardee kinda girl ; ) !

  2. I hear everyone raving about this recipe so I can't wait to try it out! Looks seriously good... Ever since I started making my own pasta sauces I haven't looked back. There is so much more flavor in most of them!! This looks very good!

  3. Nat, I'll confess...I don't think my addiction to chef boyardee may be completely gone as I haven't found a recipe yet for spaghetti-o's and tiny little meatballs yet.

    Junglefrog - thanks for visiting my blog. This was super easy to make and tasted great too. Definitely recommend it.

  4. Amatriciana is one of my favorite pasta sauces because of all that cheese and bacon. You did a wonderful job and it looks sooooo mouth-wateringly good!

  5. Hmmm... I love pancetta. Thanks for visiting my blog!! ;-)

  6. Palidor, it was so yummy...i was surprised something so simple could be that good.

    Bliss- thanks for visiting my blog. Pancetta & bacon are the best.