June 14, 2011

Pasta alla Gricia

A year ago I posted a pasta recipe and mentioned my quest to replicate the best pasta dish I've ever had. I've tried several recipes, and while none have quite lived up to the pasta in my memory, this one is definitely worth repeating.

The pasta dish I'm seeking after is one I had in Rome that was made with rigatoni, cheese, olive oil, black pepper, and tiny, tasty morsels that were most likely guanciale. Guanciale is a pork product with a very high fat content (like bacon). I was able to find guanciale in the amazing international grocery store in town. I bought a half pound piece and divided into four sections and froze them to use as needed.

This recipe has the added ingredient of onions, so it's not The Dish, but it tastes great. Also, rigatoni has recently become a favorite pasta. Don't overcook it - keep it al dente for a slight chew.

Pasta alla Gricia
from the New York Times

1 pound bucatini or rigatoni
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, sliced thin
6 ounces guanciale, in 1-inch slivers 1/4-inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated aged pecorino cheese, more for serving

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add bucatini or rigatoni.

2. Meanwhile, place a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, onion and guanciale. Cook until onion is translucent and barely starting to brown. Remove from heat.

3. When pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Transfer pasta to skillet, place over medium-low heat and toss with guanciale and onion. Season with salt and generously with pepper; fold in about half the pasta water and the cheese. Toss, adding more pasta water as needed to help cheese coat pasta. Check seasoning and serve, with more cheese on the side.