Yes I am obsessed with pasta and lots of Italian dishes. Amatriciana is one of those recipes that looks simple enough in the beginning but acutely requires the right ingredients to be true to the original.
The original recipe, the one developed by shepherds, was only pasta, cheese and pork. Tomatoes and chillies were added later once these were introduced to Italy from the Americas.
Amatrciana does rely on the flavour of pork cheek, a very fatty cured pork cheek call guanciale. Now where I live it is hard to get and almost impossible to get it in a form that gives the flexibility to cut or slice the way suggested by Italian chef's. Namely, thicker strips between 5-10mm in thickness and about 2-3 cm in length. So I apologies up front to anyone taking note of my indiscretions in this regard. In the absence of guanciale, pancetta can be used, and at a stretch, that will offend and purist, fatty bacon works.
The other key original ingredients were the pasta of course and the cheese. For the pasta, bucatini is alleged to be the traditional, a thicker spaghetti style long pasta, sometimes called tube spaghetti. Again not something where I live that is usually on the average supermarket shelf, however we can get it thru a couple of specialty online grocers.
The cheese is where traditionalist seem to get pretty fussy. To be authentic you do have to use pecorino, and arguably pecorino from Amatrice. You can guess that is almost impossible to find that in Sth East Asia at a price that makes sense. However Pecorino Romano is easier to find and I dare anyone to tell me the difference once the pasta is dished up. Pecorino is a sheep milk version or parmesan ... yeah I will get blasted for that comparison also.
Having made this dish, badly, many times, I took time to actually research this one properly. There are always nuances to what looks to be a simple dish. And bugger me, don't Italian chef like to heap shit on someone that f*cks around too much with a traditional recipe. So bring it on and heap the shit.
Because I like, what I like, I add a couple extra ingredients, like garlic, a bay leaf and a little white wine, for personal taste mostly. None of these would be considered traditional so I've indicated these in the ingredients list for anyone wanting to ignore or be a little more traditional. And the traditional version I'm talking about is the one after tomatoes and chillies were added.
So have a go and let me know.