We’re traveling outside of Spain today and hopping over to Italy for one of my favorite pasta dishes. David shares the authentic pasta alla gricia recipe.
Ask someone to name the classic Roman pasta dishes.
Some people might give you blank stares, others might mumble “carbonara“. A couple might manage to name cacio e pepe or amatriciana, but almost no one will get to pasta alla gricia!
This is the fourth famous pasta of Rome, and its most overlooked! Coat rigatoni in an emulsion of pasta water, guanciale, black pepper and Pecorino cheese and you’ve got a tasty time. The secret to this dish is rendering the guanciale nice and slow.
This gives you crispy, salty chunks of pork for your pasta, and lots of fat to make the emulsion. And when you add the pasta water you get the starch needed to get the creamy sauce!
Try my pasta alla gricia recipe for yourself and see why Romans love this pasta as much as any carbonara.
Note: If you can’t find guanciale, you can replace it with unsmoked pancetta. Likewise, Pecorino Romano can be substituted with good Parmesan.
And while you’re at it, try authentic pasta like a local on a classic Devour Rome food tour!
Classic Roman Pasta alla Gricia Recipe
Crazy Delicious Pasta alla Gricia Recipe
- 6 ounces guanciale cured pork jowl
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces rigatoni
- salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
- 3 ounces Pecorino Romano freshly-grated
- Cut the guanciale into 1/4 inch strips, and then cut each strip into 1/4 inch batons. (Tip: freezing the guanciale for 15-20 minutes can make it easier to slice).
- Place a large skillet over a medium-low heat, and add the olive oil. When the oil is heated, cook the guanciale, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until golden and crispy. It will shrink as it cooks!
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked guanciale to a small plate, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet, remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water (generously salted). When the rigatoni is halfway cooked, remove and drain the pasta (reserving 1.5 cups of the pasta water).
- Add 3/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet with the guanciale fat and place back on the heat to bring to the boil. Cook for 1 minute, swirling often to encourage it to emulsify.
- Add the rigatoni to the skillet and cook until al dente. You can add more pasta water if necessary to keep the rigatoni coated in the emulsified sauce (it should be thick and glossy).
- Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the cooked guanciale, black pepper, and 2/3 of the pecorino romano. Toss well to combine as the cheese melts.
- Serve immediately, topped with the remaining cheese.
What’s your favorite of the four classic Roman pasta dishes? If you like my Pasta alla Gricia recipe, why not check out my recipe for authentic cacio e pepe as well? Or hop over to Spain with a traditional tuna pasta recipe.