This is one of my most stand-by recipes of all time! Spaghetti all'Amatriciana hails from the town of Amatrice (oddly enough), which is located in the mountains of Lazio, skirting the Abruzzo border. Romans often try to claim it as their own, though they use bucatini instead of spaghetti, and frequently make it using onion and garlic, the addition of which the good Amatriciani say is akin to blasphemy. They should know; they've been making this plate for generations. The town isn't labeled "la citta` degli spaghetti" (spaghetti city) or nothing!
The original "matriciana" was made in bianco, without tomatoes. Shepherds used cured guanciale (a type of bacon made from the cheek) and the abundant pecorino cheese to flavor their pasta. Eventually, tomatoes got thrown into the pot, and a famous dish was born.
While you can use smoked pancetta if you can't find the guanciale, do not substitute parmigiano for the pecorino!
about 1/4 pound guanciale (or pancetta), chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups tomato puree
salt, pepper, red chile flakes
1/2 cup coarsely grated aged pecorino cheese
1 pound spaghetti
In a large skillet fry the guanciale (or pancetta if you can't find guanciale) in a little olive oil until cooked and crispy. Remove half the meat to a paper towel to drain, set aside. Add the wine into the skillet and let it mostly evaporate, then add the tomatoes along with some salt and pepper and a dash of red chile flakes.
Cover and let simmer about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the spaghetti until they are al dente. Drain and add to the sauce in the skillet, tossing well. Toss in half of the pecorino cheese and combine. Sprinkle on the remaining crispy pieces of guanciale.
Serve with a healthy dusting of the pecorino on top.