Preparation: 10 min
Cooking: 20 min
Rigatoni 0.7 lb (320 g)
Guanciale ½ lb (250 g) - (already peppered)
Pecorino Romano cheese ½ cup (60 g) - to grate
Fine salt to taste
Pasta alla gricia (pasta with guanciale) is one of the most famous dishes of Lazio cuisine, considered the ancestor of pasta amatriciana. As with the recipe for the amatriciana, in fact, it includes guanciale and Pecorino Romano cheese.
The main difference lies in the tomato sauce, which is absent in pasta alla gricia because its origin even predates the importation of tomatoes into Europe.
It is said that pasta alla gricia was invented by the shepherds of Lazio, who, with the few ingredients they had available, prepared this simple but equally tasty and substantial dish.
You can choose to add a long type of pasta like bucatini and tonnarelli, or a short one like rigatoni!
To prepare pasta alla gricia, first place a pot full of water on the burner that will be used to cook the pasta. At this point take the guanciale and cut slices 1/2" (1 cm) (1) thick. Then separate any rind that may be present (you can keep it in the fridge and use it in other recipes, such as soups) and from the slices you get strips about 1/8" (half a cm) (2) thick. Pour the guanciale into a pan already hot, without adding more fat (3);
Let it sizzle on medium heat for about ten minutes until it is golden and crisp (4), taking care not to burn it. In the meantime the water will have come to a boil, salt and cook the pasta (5); while the pasta cooks, finely grate Pecorino cheese. When 2 minutes are left before the pasta is done, slow down the cooking of the guanciale by adding a ladle of cooking water. The cooking of the guanciale will stop and the starch released from the pasta will create a pleasant cream (6). Jiggle the pan a little bit to move the pieces of guanciale.
At this point your pasta is done, add it directly to the sauce (7), preserving the cooking water. Stir for about 1 minute, shake the pan and stir. Then remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle with a third of grated Pecorino cheese (8) and add a little more cooking water if necessary (9).
Stir and toss the pasta again; you will notice that a tasty cream will have been created (11). You can then serve pasta alla gricia and garnish each plate with the remaining Pecorino cheese (12).