In 2010, Patrick and I went to Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria in Geyserville, CA and ordered a fantastic pork cheek ragu pasta. It was the first time I've ever had pork cheeks in Italian food and I fell in love with the texture and flavors cooked in a dreamy tomato sauce.
I've been obsessed with pork cheeks since, so we've been curing our own cheeks to make guanciale. Patrick found a great recipe for amatriciana, and it has become our favorite pasta dishes ever. When it's the season, we use ripe dry-farmed early girl tomatoes for the sauce, which really brightens it up. The sauce is so rich and wonderful from rendering the cheek fat into the tomato sauce. The combination of flavors really come together for a great balance.
Bucatini Guanciale Amatriciana/Matriciana Recipe
Recipe adapted from La "CODIFICA" degli Spaghetti alla Matriciana o Amatriciana.
- 20 oz fresh bucatini pasta (dry spaghetti is fine)
- 1/2 lb guanciale, sliced into bite sized strips
- 1 1/2 lb fresh ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and shocked (read below*)
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- salt to taste
*To skin, seed, and shock tomatoes, fill a large pot with water and put it on high heat to boil. Score the bottoms of the tomatoes and drop them in the pot once water boils. The tomatoes should cook for only 1 minute. Take them out of the water and immediately put them in ice water then start skinning and seeding.
- Cut and slice guanciale into small thick bite sized strips.
- Place guanciale in a large pan over medium heat, start rendering the fat and allow it to cook in the guanciale's own fat for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Do not strain the fat - this component is needed for the dish.
- Pour the prepared tomato into the guanciale pan and cook for 15 minutes until it's reduced. Add in chili flakes.
- While the sauce is cooking, cook your pasta as directed and set aside, be sure to salt the water you're boiling.
- When sauce is done, add in the grated parmesan cheese, taste and if needed, add some salt. Turn off the stove. Then pour the pasta into the sauce. Serve.
This post has been updated on 8/6/2016, but here are some older photos.