Bucatini alla ‘Matriciana’, a classic Roman pasta dish, that combines a flavorful tomato sauce made with guanciale, onions, wine, Pecorino Romano, and bucatini pasta, leaving you with an exquisite and rich rustic dish.
Song of the day: “Thunder” – Imagine Dragons.
I’m writing this post while we’re on holidays in Italy, wishing we heard a thunder and see some bolts of lightning in the sky to announce the imminent rain. With Loreto, we said we would go out in the street to dance underneath the downpour, to freshen up, to feel our skin finally cool off. We’re waiting for some rain since we arrived here, a couple of weeks ago, waiting for the temperatures to go down a bit from the 40 degree average, but still nothing. Dry and extremely hot, I am the one who’s suffering from the heat more than him. Me, the one who should be used to the weather, me, always complaining about the cold Canada.
Rome greeted us with affection from family and friends, among boiling temperatures and desert-like scenery. They haven’t seen rain in a while here, fires have been bad, the sky is opaque, the humidity super high. The only relief from the heat is the beach or the pool. But if you need to take the car to go anywhere, and you parked it in the sun, it feels like entering a circle of hell. The other day we wanted to escape the house and its sticky, hot, and humid air to go to the pool, but the car was parked in the sun and the temperature inside was 48° C. We cranked the A.C. on and we concentrated on our destination: a cool clear water pool. Loreto imagined steam coming off his skin as he jumped in the pool, lol.
You would think that cooking and eating would be the last thing on your mind at these temperatures, but you would be greatly mistaken. In Italy wood fire ovens, stoves, ovens are still going full throttle as nothing stops an Italian from the ultimate passion: food, and eating.
My family’s passion for pasta, for example, never stops. Rain or shine, hot or cold, they eat pasta every day. We were doing some shopping at Eataly Roma and my father said he had some guanciale and pecorino romano in the fridge, so, among many other things, we brought home bucatini to make one of his favorite pasta dishes: Bucatini alla ‘Matriciana’.
It is not a mistake that you’re reading ‘Matriciana‘ instead of Amatriciana. This sauce is the “real deal” in Rome, where they say the Matriciana sauce was actually born before being transferred to Amatrice, a small town north-east of Rome, where its inhabitants created a revised and corrected copy: white and without onion in Amatrice, with tomato sauce and onion in Rome. The invention of the Matriciana is claimed by the Romans, who would only be “inspired” by the shepherds coming from Amatrice who during the summer months used to go to Rome to sell their dairy products and meats.
Although this seems to be the true story of the Matriciana, even in Rome there is a constant passionate exchange about the ingredients in the sauce. The use of guanciale is a must (otherwise it cannot be called Matriciana), together with Pecorino romano, fresh pureed tomatoes, e.v.o. oil, dry white wine, a pinch of peperoncino (chili pepper). The main controversy is about the onion. For some, adding it to the sauce is a “sacrilege”, for others, there’s no other way. I’ve been taught by a true zealous Roman to add sauteed onions to the tomato sauce, as well as some crushed San Marzano tomatoes. This creates a magnificent sauce, rich and sweet, with a diverse textural component.
As for the type of pasta to use for the Matriciana, the connoisseurs only use spaghetti, although bucatini and rigatoni are tolerated. My father loves to use bucatini, the thick spaghetti with a hole running down the center, almost like a thin straw. He says their texture and body marries perfectly with the rich sauce. When you eat spaghetti you slurp them, with bucatini you make a whistling sound, due to the hole in the middle. It is a delight watching people eat Bucatini alla Matriciana.
When making this classic pasta dish, make sure to use only quality ingredients: the e.v.o. oil, the Pecorino, the tomatoes, pureed and crushed, the guanciale (cured meat product prepared from pork cheek or jowl), the pasta. And make sure to cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Pasta has to stay al dente to preserve its texture and flavor and has to be cooked in boiling salted water.
If you’re craving something Italian and authentic, this Bucatini alla Matriciana is the dish for you. Its rich, robust flavor and wonderful texture are always a delight to the palate. The guanciale adds a beautiful component that marries well with the tomatoes, and the wine does a wonderful job in tenderizing the meat, also subduing its sometimes salty and pungent profile. The onion brings its natural sweetness to the table balancing the flavors of the sauce very well. The pecorino, along with a bit of peperoncino, gives that little bit of kick to spike the flavors even more.
From Rome with love, whether with spaghetti or bucatini, enjoy this timeless Italian sauce!
Song of the day: “Thunder” – Imagine Dragons.
- 1/2 cup guanciale, chopped
- 3 Tbsp white wine
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
- pinch peperoncino (chili pepper)
- 1 1/2 cups strained (pureed) tomatoes
- 1/4 cup crushed stewed tomatoes
- salt to taste (we did not add any, since the guanciale is pretty salty)
- 400 g bucatini
- 100 g pecorino
- In a small saute pan, add the chopped guanciale and render at low medium heat. Add the white wine and let cook for about 10 minutes until tender. Strain the guanciale from the fat and set aside.
- In a big saute pan add the e.v.o. oil, the onion and peperoncino. Cook until onion is translucent, then add the pureed tomatoes, and the crushed tomatoes.
- Cook the tomato sauce on low medium heat for about 10 minutes, then add the guanciale.
- Keep cooking the sauce until thickened.
- While the sauce is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to boil.
- Add the bucatini (or spaghetti) and cook according to package instructions.
- Drain al dente and add to the sauce.
- Add half of the grated Pecorino and stir letting the pecorino blend the sauce and coat the strands of pasta.
- Serve immediately with more Pecorino on top.
If you like Matriciana sauce, the real deal, you might like the authentic Carbonara recipe:
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