Recipe - Julia Ostro


This is such a traditional dish, and in my opinion, should be kept as simple as possible. The key is really good quality ingredients and getting the timing just right. I like to set the water on the boil and allow it to bubble away while I begin the sauce – this means as the sauce simmers, the pasta can be plunged into the boiling salty water without delay. There are countless variations of Amatriciana, even adding basil, as I’ve done here isn’t exactly true to its origins. A friend (who happens to be a wonderful cook from the hometown of Amatriciana, Amatrice), suggestions this addition though and it does add a little freshness, which I love. Most commonly served with bucatini, spaghetti or a dried short pasta are other fine options. Although it’s tempting to just substitute the harder to find guanciale with pancetta, the sweet, salty, peppery flavour that guanciale brings cannot be beat.


Serves 4, modestly

150g guanciale
400g canned whole peeled tomatoes
1 dried red chilli
320g bucatini 
100g pecorino, finely grated, plus extra to serve
Basil, to serve, optional
Sea salt
Fill a large pot with water and bring to the boil over high heat while you make the sauce. 
For the sauce, remove the rind from the guanciale. Slice the guanciale into 2cm thick slices then into lardons around 1cm thick. Place the guanciale in a large pan and over a low heat, slowly fry the guanciale, stirring occasionally, until most of the fat has rendered out and it is lightly golden. Increase the heat to medium and add in the tomatoes, pressing them with the back of your spoon to break them up. Crumble in the chilli and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until thick. 
While the sauce is simmering away, season the pot of boiling water generously with salt and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. I usually cook the pasta a minute or two less than directed as it will continue to cook in the pan. 
Now it’s a matter of timing. You want the sauce and pasta to be ready together.
Remove the sauce from the heat and scatter in the cheese, stirring to melt it into the sauce. Drain the pasta, reserving around 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Transfer the bucatini to the sauce along with the pasta water and stir over a low heat until that everything is well coated. Scatter over some extra pecorino and basil leaves, if using, and serve. You shouldn’t need to add any salt or pepper, the guanciale will season the dish perfectly. 

Recipe and words by Julia Ostro

Photography by Lilli Waters

July 31, 2017
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