Pasta all’Amatriciana

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I love pasta, and that I love bacon.  I try to limit eating pasta to once a week and bacon even less than that, so when I combine the two in one dish, it’s really something spectacular.  Pasta all’Amatriciana is one of my favorite ways to combine the deliciousness of bacon with the comfort of pasta.  The sauce gets a nice smoky, meaty flavor from the bacon, and the house smells so good while the sauce simmers that neighbors you’ve never even met might show up and ask what’s for dinner.  Okay, maybe that won’t happen, but it should.

Amatriciana sauce originates in Amatrice, Italy and originally calls for guanciale, cured pork cheek.  More modern and Americanized versions call for pancetta or bacon.  I had bacon left over from making a nice weekend breakfast, so that’s what I used.  If you do use bacon, I recommend a thick, center cut bacon so that there isn’t too much grease and so that there are nice thick pieces of bacon throughout the pasta.

Pasta all’Amatriciana


  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. thinly sliced guanciale, pancetta, or chopped bacon
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 C. sliced onion, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 12 oz. spaghetti


Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.

Chop bacon into 1/2 inch pieces.

Add bacon, two cloves of garlic, and 1/2 of the sliced onion to the skillet.

Stirring often, cook until bacon is just slightly crispy and onion and garlic have softened.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the remaining onion and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft.

Add the canned tomatoes, oregano, and salt and stir to combine.

Bring the tomato mixture to a boil and reduce heat.

Simmer tomato mixture for ten minutes.

Add the bacon mixture (including drippings) to the tomato mixture and stir to combine.

Continue to simmer the sauce for 10-20 minutes over medium-low heat.

Boil pasta according to package directions and drain.

Serve sauce over the pasta.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: loosely based on a Mario Batali recipe


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