Pasta alla Gricia may be the most underrated of all the classic Roman pastas (carbonara, cacio e pepe, amatriciana) and today we learn how it’s done. All the techniques in this video we have covered but if you’ve ever had trouble creaming your Cacio e pepe, you’re gonna wanna watch this one.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
½lb of Spaghetti
½ - 1 Cup, Sliced Guanciale/Pancetta
½ - 1 Cup, Grated Pecorino Romano
2-3 Cups, Starchy Pasta Water
Cut the guanciale/pancetta into little slices. Make sure you have plenty of fatty pieces as the fat is essential in making the sauce.
Get a pot of water up to temperature to cook the pasta in. Lightly salt this water, much lighter than normal, as the meat and the cheese add a lot of salt to the dish already.
As the water is coming up to temperature, get a pan on medium heat and add the guanciale/pancetta to the cold pan and let it slowly render out all its fat and brown up and get crispy. Once the fat has rendered and the meat has browned, tilt the pan up to one side to let the fat drain from the meat, then spoon the meat into a bowl and reserve to add back into the dish later. Grate some fresh cracked pepper into the pork fat to let it bloom for a minute and then turn off the heat.
The water should be ready by now, add the pasta and cook for about 3 minutes less than the packages requires. Add some pasta water to the pork fat, get it back on to medium heat and then add the spaghetti to the pan. Finish cooking the pasta in the fat and the water, stirring and tossing it around to create a sauce consistency. The pasta will absorb that liquid and all its flavor so if you see it dry up at all, just add a bit more pasta water. The water will save this dish in so many ways so be sure to use it as a crutch but add little bits at a time. Once the pasta is perfectly al dente, add another ladle of pasta water and then shut off the heat. Let the pan cool down for at least 30 seconds before adding the cheese.
After 30 seconds, add a handful or two of cheese to the pasta and immediately begin to shake it and stir it up to help the sauce emulsify. If it tightens up at all, add some pasta water to adjust it. Remember, this sauce will thicken as it cools which is why you want the sauce a little looser than you think and it is also why you should serve it on a warmed plate.
Once the sauce is perfect and creamy and the pasta is perfectly cooked, add the guanciale/pancetta back to the pasta, mixed up on last time and make any last-minute adjustments with pasta water and then serve immediately. Finish with extra pecorino cheese and fresh cracked black pepper.
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