Few dishes identify a country as strongly as pasta does Italy, and the most popular primi piatti you're likely to find on trattoria menus in the Eternal City is bucatini all'Amatriciana (originally from Amatrice in Lazio). But the recipe we've given here is that of its ancestor, pasta alla Gricia, from the town of Grisciano. Rome has adopted these dishes as its own, and the use of local produce, namely Pecorino Romano and guanciale, is key to their success. With so few ingredients, substitutions should be avoided, but, while it's not traditional, a few basil or flat-leaf parsley leaves make a nice addition.
- 400 gm dried spaghetti
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 135 gm guanciale, cut into batons
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 25 gm finely grated Pecorino Romano (1/3 cup)
- 1Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water according to packet instructions until al dente (5-10 minutes), drain (reserve 250ml pasta water), set aside.
- 2Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep frying pan, add guanciale and stir until crisp (2-4 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside.
- 3Add onion and garlic to pan (you should have plenty of fat to fry the onion in; if not, add a little oil) and cook over medium heat until very tender (10-15 minutes). Return guanciale to pan with pasta and reserved water. Season with pepper, then add half the cheese, stirring until the cheese melts and forms a sauce (1-2 minutes). Serve hot, scattered with remaining cheese and a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper.
Note Guanciale is cured pig's cheek or jowl. It is available from select Italian delicatessens and butchers.
Drink Suggestion: A dry white Orvieto. Drink suggestion by Max Allen