Pasta alla gricia

 

While the recipe for pasta alla gricia isn’t very well known even by Italians outside of the region of Lazio, this can be considered the original pasta dish. This is in fact what ancient Italians ate before the introduction of tomatoes. This also means two things. First, pasta alla gricia could be thought of as the ancestor of pasta all’amatriciana, with which it shares 90% of its recipe. Second, do not attempt to replicate this recipe with non-original ingredients, since like all simple dishes it owes everything to the quality and special taste of its intended components.

 

Ingredients

 

- 400g pasta (we strongly suggest using rigatoni)

- 250g guanciale

- 60g grated pecorino romano cheese

- Salt

- Ground black pepper

 

 

Preparation

 

Guanciale is a type of cured meat similar to pancetta, but using the cheek of the pig. The flavor is rather distinct from that of pancetta or bacon. To prepare it you cut away its outer rind and slice the guanciale in strips. These are then cooked in a non-sticky pan without adding any oil, as the fat in the guanciale will melt forming all you need. Add abundant ground black pepper and set aside. To cook the pasta you should follow our suggestions (see the specific post), but use just half of the salt you normally would as the ingredients are rather salty already. When the pasta is ready, save three tablespoons of its cooking water and strain the rest – then drop the pasta and the water you saved in the pan with the guanciale and cook over a strong fire for about one minute while mixing. Turn off the fire, spread the cheese on the pasta, mix some more to amalgamate all the flavors together and serve. That’s it! Pasta as it was eaten almost two thousand years ago. Try it and it will be the best history lesson of all your life.