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Spaghetti all’Amatriciana inspired this…but it’s a different dish now

February 4, 2010

I made this pasta dish because Bob made Spaghetti alla amatriciana the other day. I set out to duplicate his recipe as I grew up eating amatriciana, but had never made it before. Strange thing since I have extremely fond memories of eating it when my father made it. What I remember most is the bacon, tomato and chili flakes. Beyond that I have no idea what variation my father made. There is what seems a good history of the classic Italian dish here on wikipedia complete with different variations.

In any case what I ended up with was not the classic dish at all. I started out intending for it to be but after I cooked the bacon and onion I added the tomato and it was simply too heavy on the tomato and I needed to correct it somehow. I had no more bacon so I added anchovies. Americans seem to hesitate to use anchovies believing them to be fishy. I suppose that is because they are associated with a pizza topping which does taste fishy. When they are used in tomato sauces with meats they do not retain their fishiness at all and instead enhance flavor wonderfully.

My husband does not like anchovies on pizza for example. But he loved this pasta dish. He said he could not taste the anchovies at all but he had about three servings of the pasta. He also gave the high complement that this pasta could be served in a fine Italian restaurant. It was rather addictive.


  • 8 oz pasta
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 6 pieces of bacon cut up and browned*
  • 1 tsp red vinegar
  • 1/2 can of anchovies
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 tbls pureed basil (I freeze fresh basil in the summer, if you’ve got fresh basil simply use a generous amount)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup pecorino cheese

So I cooked the bacon until lightly crispy. I drained some of the fat out but not all. I sauteed the onion with the bacon and fat until soft and also mildly browned. Added the tomato sauce and red pepper and cooked for 20 minutes. At this point I realized it needed more so I added the anchovies chopped small and the olive oil that the anchovies are packed in. Cooked until the flavors blended then added the basil last.

Cooked the spaghetti al dente and tossed the sauce and 1/2 cup pecorino into the pasta.

*I use natural organic bacon with no nitrates added.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2010 12:16 pm

    Oooo, that sounds awesome. I’m not afraid of anchovies, just so long as they are mixed in well. Heh.

    Thanks for the shoutout!

  2. February 4, 2010 1:05 pm

    I love amatriciana sauce. Great idea to fix it up with the anchovies! Still haven’t tried them yet…more because I haven’t stumbled across a recipe that calls for them…

  3. Papa permalink
    February 4, 2010 2:37 pm

    I read somewhere that there are discussions going on in Italy about putting or not putting onion in the amatriciana sugo. Recipes like that can be modified in so many ways….Nonna, for instance, made it with canned tomato concentrate….it was very good.

    I’ve used mostly fresh tomatoes, with or without onion; with bacon, salt pork or pancetta.

    – Papa`

  4. February 4, 2010 10:47 pm

    Hats off to you for taking a recipe and taking it up another notch. Cheers to you!

  5. February 6, 2010 12:01 pm

    Hey MJ, glad you liked the energy balls.

    Just FYI, I’m on a food blogging break right now…Which is why I haven’t been visiting or commenting right now. Long story. But thanks for reading & letting me know you made the recipe, and that it turned out.

  6. February 7, 2010 10:02 am

    What a wonderful combination of flavors!!! I can smell it from here. Delicious dish.

  7. February 10, 2010 6:16 pm

    Wonderful ….I’d love a plate. You did nice job with one, love the post :-)

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