Amatriciana from Twelve Recipes by Cal Peternell

Cooking pasta at home can get boring by just using cheese or sauce from the jar. We think you should spice up your pasta options (literally) with this delicious Amatriciana recipe from Twelve Recipes by Cal Peternell, chef at legendary restaurant Chez Panisse. This sauce is robust in flavor with nice heat from crushed red pepper and the perfect amount of saltiness from bacon. Twelve Recipes offers Cal’s tips and tricks from his years of cooking at restaurants and at home. It also features beautiful photographs and illustrations. Purchase a copy of Twelve Recipes from your favorite retailer.


This is the pasta that has become a family fallback, and though sometimes overexposed, it’s still the favorite at our house. It is popular not only for its ability to satisfy and comfort but also because it, like puttanesca and arrabbiata, can be made from ingredients that are among the staples in our pantry. It’s probably the one that my sons are most accomplished at making; in fact, personal preference variations have emerged in the making of amatriciana in our kitchen: some like to sauté onions to start the sauce, whereas others find that all the sweetness needed is handled by the bacon and tomato. Maybe try it both ways and decide for yourself.


2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ pound sliced bacon, cut across into short sticks, or pancetta or, most authentically, guanciale, which is pork cheek cured like pancetta
2 garlic cloves
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 15-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes, chopped, juice
reserved separately
1 pound bucatini or spaghetti
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Put a big pot of cold water on to boil. Add salt.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the bacon. Cook until the bacon starts to brown around the edges, less than 5 minutes. If there’s too much fat in the pan, take a little out, but save it. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for just a moment, and add the tomatoes. Raise the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer while you boil the pasta, stirring it frequently. As the skillet gets to looking (and sounding) too dry and sizzly, add doses of the reserved tomato juice. When the pasta is done, drain it and toss it in the pan with the sauce and parsley, tasting and making the proper adjustments (think: oil, bacon fat, pasta water, salt, spiciness). Pass the cheese to grate.

Twelve Recipes

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