April 19, 2009

Bucatini alla gricia - a pristine recipe from Rome

This might be the easiest pasta dish to make! And this recipe is the real McCoy, in the sense that other traditional Roman dishes like bucatini all’amatriciana and spaghetti alla carbonara were inspired by bucatini alla gricia.

Ingredients
1 lb bucatini pasta
5 oz guanciale (Italian unsmoked bacon), diced
4 Tbsp pecorino romano cheese, grated
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. In the meantime, in a saucepan over medium heat sauté the guanciale until nice and golden. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and reserve about ¼ cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta over the guanciale, add the cheese, some freshly ground black pepper, and the reserved starchy water. Give a quick stir and serve!

Tips
Pasta alla gricia is supposed to come from the town of Grisciano near Rome. The absence of tomatoes indicates its ancient origins: pasta alla gricia was eaten before tomatoes were introduced to Europe from South America.

Bucatini are like thick spaghetti with a transversal hole inside. Buco means hole in Italian.

The traditional recipe calls for guanciale, a kind of Italian unsmoked bacon (actually, cured and unsmoked pig jowl). However, New York City is the only place I know in North America where you can find guanciale (in one store in the middle of the meat district). So, it's only for this reason that you’re temporarily allowed to use pancetta or unsmoked bacon instead… but if you’re in New York, then you MUST get some guanciale! The same thing will apply to every recipe calling for guanciale.
Posted by Daziano at 9:06 PM |  
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