Pasta alla Gricia Recipe
How to make authentic pasta alla Gricia
Possibly the lesser-known of Rome’s four classic pasta dishes, gricia is often forgotten about in favor of carbonara, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe. But in actual fact gricia is the granddaddy of the other two, forming the base of guanciale bacon and pecorino cheese, two of the Lazio regions’ most important ingredients.
Follow our simple recipe for Roman-style pasta alla gricia for a true taste of the Eternal City. If you really want to go further in-depth, check out these 2 amazing cookbooks that we love and cherish. One was written back in the 1920s and is most probably in every household in Italy! It’s the Talismano della Felicità, which literally translates into the ‘Talisman of Happiness’. The other, more recent, is written by Maria Pasquale. She is a Rome-based Italian-Australian food and travel expert and her passion brought her to write the I Heart Rome Cookbook. Guaranteed that you will fall in love with it. Now let’s get back to our recipe.
Pasta alla Gricia
120 g guanciale
50 g grated pecorino romano
250 g pasta (spaghetti or rigatoni)
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring your well-salted pasta water to the boil. While the water is heating, slice the guanciale into strips, wide ribbons, or even a fine dice, the cut depends on how you want the guanciale to mingle with the pasta you’ve chosen.
Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan and place over medium heat. Slowly cook the guanciale to soften the fat until it turns translucent. Fry the guanciale until just turning crunchy then lower the heat.
Cook the pasta until ‘al dente‘, occasionally add a few spoonfuls of starchy pasta cooking water to the guanciale pan, just enough to keep it moist. The starchy water is a key element to the finished dish; it combines with the fat to form the sauce for the pasta.
When the pasta is cooked, scoop out a cup of the water then drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the guanciale. Toss the pasta vigorously, coating it with the guanciale and rendered fat. If necessary, add a splash of the reserved pasta cooking water to bring it all together.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the grated pecorino romano cheese, continuing to stir well so the cheese binds smoothly with the water and fat. Grind some black pepper into the pan, toss well and serve immediately.