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Spaghetti all’amatriciana | Spaghetti Amatrice |

Spaghetti Amatriciana

Spaghetti all’amatriciana is a winner.  The dish is quick and really easy to make. Typical of good Italian food it only has four ingredients. Traditionally the dish is made using “guanciale di maiale” (cured pig’s jowl or cheeks). As this is quite difficult to buy outside Italy this recipe has been adapted using sliced gammon steaks. As an alternative, this dish can be been made equally as tasty, using smoked streaky bacon. 

Spaghetti all’amatriciana | Spaghetti Amatrice |

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By marc Spendlove-Kruger Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 12 minutes


  • 500 g (1.1 lb) Spaghetti
  • 30 ml (2 tbs) Extra virgin olive oil (alternatively use pork lard)
  • 125 g (4 1/2 oz) Guanciale di maiale (alternatively use unsmoked streaky bacon or gamon steaks cut into batons)
  • 1 Red chilli
  • 400 g (14 oz) Plum peeled tomatoes (canned)
  • 100 g (3 1/2 oz) Pecorino cheese - medium aged (grated)
  • Salt for seasoning



First thing to do is the ingredient preparation. Take a slice off the “guanciale” and make it into sticks. A 5mm (3/16") thick slice will do; that will allow you to make 5x5mm (3/16"x3/16") sticks, 2cm (3/4") long. Don’t worry if they look a bit chunky; after the frying they will half their size.


Break the plum tomatoes with whatever comes to hand.


Take a frying pan and pour the extra virgin olive oil into it.


When the oil is hot, add the chilli. Do not break the chilli in many pieces; just break it into two, so that it will be easier to remove it from the pan at a later stage.


Add the guanciale into the pan and turn the heat to low.


After about a couple of minutes, the guanciale sticks should turn to a golden colour.


Add the tomatoes to the pan.


Give it a good stir and simmer for about 10-12 minutes


Boil the spaghetti according to instructions given on the packet. Remember to cook the spaghetti “al dente” and to use 10g (1/3 ounce) salt for each litre (4 1/8 cups) of boiling water.


A few minutes before the end, check the seasoning and add some salt according to your taste.


Remove and discard the chilli.


Add two good ladels of the cooking liquer to the sauce and stir well


Add half of the Pecorino cheese into the pan and stir. Keep the remaining Pecorino cheese for the serving.


Plate the spaghetti, add some extra Pecorino cheese on top and enjoy this fab spaghetti all’amatriciana.

Try our other Italian recipes and enjoy:

Lemon Chicken and Artichokes | Favoloso Italian Flavour

Spaghetti Aglio e Peperoncino | Roman Holiday Zest |

Porchetta |Taste of Umbria on a Plate |

Wine Matching

Spaghetti all’amatriciana needs an Italian wine. It has to be a Pinot Grigio. We chose a Vivolo Pinot Grigio 2017. It is crisp and refreshing. Compare this wine alongside a bland, mass-produced Italian Pinot Grigio and it seems like a different grape entirely.  Available from Naked Wines.   

About Amatrice

The dish originated from the little mountaintop village of Amatrice.  The picturesque town is located on the Le Marche, Lazio border of central Italy. The vilage is situated in the middle of a National Park. Amatrice was devestated in the 2016 earthquakes.

It is believed that the ancient version of dish was created by the local shepherds, a few centuries ago. Initially, there was no tomato in the amatriciana sauce.  At that time people probably didn’t know about its existence or its culinary application. This original version, without tomatoes, still exists. This is called “pasta alla gricia”. Sunsequently, in the late 1700s, the use of tomato, as a cooking ingredient began. Tankfully someone discovered that it was good to add tomato to the basic “gricia” sauce and this is what nowadays we know as amatriciana sauce.

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