Amatriciana pasta is a typical dish of Roman taverns and inns, originally from the town of Amatrice, in the province of Rieti. The ingredients are basically three: pecorino cheese, cheek lard, and tomato sauce. It seems certain that the addition of this last element goes back to the end of 1600, but there are many variations of the dish. It is very difficult to trace a real, original recipe.
We are indeed talking about a dish of peasant origin, handed down for the most part orally from father to son and, although we have various historical documents, they are all very different from each other. What is certain is that all the various additions provided by many recipes do not distort in any way the dish; rather those enrich its flavor according to personal taste, just as the shepherds of the time did.
Amatriciana Pasta originally had a sauce without tomato. It was called Pasta alla Gricia (or Griscia, in honor of the town of Grisciano, near Amatrice). Centuries ago, the shepherds who lived in the mountains of Amatrice brought in their saddlebags the necessary ingredients to make that dish, such as cheek lard pieces, pecorino cheese, lard, black pepper and sun-dried pasta.
Only later, with the seasonal shift of the shepherds to the Roman countryside, the tomato was introduced in the preparation of the famous spaghetti amatriciana. This dish is based on a simple, but meticulous preparation, both in the various steps and in the use of special kitchen utensils – such as the iron pan used for cooking the sauce, indispensable for a true amatriciana.