Pasta alla Gricia

Pasta alla Gricia

Reputed to be the most popular pasta dish in Rome.  This is an old recipe, using few ingredients—but with some very precise prep.  Not difficult, not time-consuming, just precise—and very well worth the precision.  The traditional recipe calls for Guanciale, cured pork jowl.  If you can’t find that delicious product, use pancetta, or even good quality American bacon.  Pasta alla Gricia’s ingredients are few, easy to carry, readily available even in Medieval times—and it needs nothing but these few ingredients.  No garlic, no onion, no herbs.  The dish is said to have sustained long-ago shepherds as they followed their flocks—and is now a favorite of the beautifully turned-out Romans in their caffès.  This recipe serves 4.

  • 2 cups dried pasta
  • 7-8 oz Guanciale (or substitute)
  • ½ cup FRESHLY grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Cut guanciale into small pieces—remove any skin.  Start a pot of salted water for the pasta.  Put meat in a non-stick pan and cook on medium until done.  Put meat in a separate dish and leave rendered fat in pan.  As pasta cooks, grate the cheese in a large serving bowl.  Two minutes before pasta is done to taste, take large spoonful of the starchy pasta water and mix with cheese until smooth and creamy.  Add another large spoonful of pasta water to the reserved fat in non-stick pan then return meat to the pan.  Drain the pasta and add it to the meat and toss well.  Then add everything to the large bowl with the cheese sauce and toss to coat.  Top with more grated cheese and black pepper.  It’s like a food ballet—Buon Appetito!

The Kitchen Hive

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