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The pasta alla gricia is the progenitor of the amatriciana, since it was made before tomatoes were imported to Europe: all you need is guanciale (jowl bacon), pecorino cheese and black pepper… enjoy!
Today we’ll be eating the pasta alla gricia, that is basically the progenitor of the amatriciana, without tomato sauce. All you need is guanciale, pecorino romano cheese and black pepper and you’ll have one of the most simple and delicious meals of Latium cuisine. But let’s see what ingredients we’ll need:
• 14 oz (400 g) of pasta
• ½ lb (250 g) of guanciale (jowl bacon) • just over ½ cup (60 g) of grated pecorino romano cheese
• salt / pepper
Let’s make together the pasta alla gricia:
And here’s our piece of guanciale, leave the peppery crust on the outside, but remove the rind… in this way. What I can tell you about this ancient recipe is that it was invented before tomatoes were imported from America; it was created by shepherds in the Latium region, who produced these ingredients and therefore used them to make a humble yet luscious dish. Here we are, the rind has been removed, so cut into slices, about ½ inch thick, then cut further into strips.
It’s time to boil the pasta, so bring plenty of water to a boil, but salt the water just a little bit, since guanciale and pecorino cheese are salty enough. For this recipe, you can use a long pasta, such as spaghetti… or bucatini, that are a bit larger and hollow, or even a short pasta, such as the rigatoni that I’m using right now; so add a bit of salt… and boil the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, move on to the sauce, so put the guanciale in a pan… and sauté on a very low flame until transparent and almost melted, since the rendered fat we’ll be our sauce. Needless to say that the original pasta alla gricia calls for guanciale, but if you can’t find it, you can replace with a type of sweet and tender bacon.
The guanciale is ready and the pasta is cooked, now sprinkle some pepper… which can be replaced by chili pepper, to make it hot… add a ladle of the pasta cooking water… and now toss in the pasta. Stir together for one minute until creamy.
As a final touch, the pasta alla gricia must be sprinkled with plenty of grated pecorino romano cheese… here we are. Mmmh… delicious! Accompany with a glass of good red wine, cheers!