- 350 grams (12 ounces) of pasta (traditionally spaghetti or rigatoni)
- 200 grams of guanciale, cut into small strips or cubes
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated- more for serving
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Kosher Salt, for pasta water
- Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add salt to season the water, like seawater, once the water is boiling.
- Heat a large skillet or frying pan on medium heat. Add the guanciale and cook it until it becomes crispy and golden brown. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking. This process should take about 5-7 minutes.
- While the guanciale is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook it until al dente according to the package instructions. Al dente means the pasta should still have a slight bite to it. Stir pasta occasionally.
- Once the guanciale is crispy, remove the skillet from the heat with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Be sure to keep the rendered fat in the pan as it adds flavor to the dish.
- When the pasta is cooked, reserve a small cup of pasta water, then drain pasta.
- Return the skillet with the guanciale to low heat. Add the drained pasta to the skillet, and toss it with the guanciale to coat the pasta evenly. If the mixture seems dry, you can add a splash of the reserved pasta water to moisten it slightly.
- Sprinkle the grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the pasta and toss it well, allowing the cheese to melt and coat the pasta. The heat of the pasta should be enough to melt the cheese, but if needed, you can put the skillet back on low heat briefly while stirring. The pasta water, fat, and cheese will create a naturally creamy cheese sauce.
- Season the pasta with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Be generous with the pepper, as it adds a distinctive flavor to the dish.
- Serve the Pasta alla Gricia immediately while it's hot. You can sprinkle some additional Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper on top for garnish, if desired.
Enjoy your authentic Italian Pasta alla Gricia!
- Quality Ingredients: Since Pasta alla Gricia is a simple dish with few ingredients, it's crucial to use high-quality ingredients. Opt for authentic guanciale, Pecorino Romano cheese, and freshly ground black pepper to ensure the best flavors.
- Cook the Guanciale Properly: Cook guanciale slowly over medium heat until it becomes crispy and golden brown. This process allows the fat to render, infusing the dish with rich flavors. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking and prevent burning.
- Don't Overcook the Pasta: Cook the pasta until it is al dente, meaning it should still have a slight bite. Overcooked pasta can become mushy and affect the texture of the dish. Follow the package instructions and taste the pasta a minute or two before the recommended cooking time to ensure it's cooked to your desired consistency.
- Save Pasta Water: Reserve a small cup of starchy pasta water before draining the cooked pasta. The starchy pasta water can moisten the dish and create a silky sauce when mixed with the guanciale and cheese. Add the starchy water gradually as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
- Toss the Pasta with the Guanciale: Add it directly to the skillet with the cooked guanciale once the pasta is cooked and drained. Toss the pasta well with the guanciale to coat it evenly and infuse it with the rendered fat flavors.
- Melt the Cheese: When adding the grated Pecorino Romano cheese to the pasta, ensure the skillet is on low heat. The residual heat from the pasta and guanciale should be sufficient to melt the cheese. Stir the pasta continuously to create a creamy, cheesy sauce. Briefly return the skillet to low heat while stirring to melt the cheese completely.
- Season Generously: Don't be shy with the black pepper! The distinct flavor of black pepper is a defining characteristic of Pasta alla Gricia. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste, and be generous to enhance the dish's overall taste.
- Serve Immediately: Enjoy Pasta alla Gricia immediately while it's hot and at its freshest.