Although it often plays second fiddle to the famous Roman pasta triumvirate of carbonara, amatriciana and cacio e pepe, la gricia is in many ways the most Roman of them all.
Giving equal limelight to both guanciale and pecorino it combines chunks of crunchy pork jowl with a creamy cheese coating to celebrate the very best of local produce.
Sometimes referred to as a ‘white amatriciana’, gricia originated in the countryside around Rome where the skill in balancing just a few ingredients to create something delicious helped to form the backbone of traditional Roman cuisine.
It’s now the perfect ‘empty the fridge’ dish; quick, simple and comforting. Be sure to take some time at the end to stir in the pecorino carefully: tossing the pasta, the starchy water and the guanciale fat with the cheese will magically bind everything together right before your eyes.
Rigatoni alla Gricia recipe
60ml white wine
50g grated pecorino romano
Trim the rind from the guanciale and cut into 1cm strips.
Heat a frying pan and add the guanciale, cook for a few minutes until the fat is released and it is turning crispy at the edges. Add the white wine and simmer for 2 minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
Add the almost cooked pasta to the pan with a good splash of the cooking water, continue to cook for another minute.
When the pasta is al dente turn off the heat and sprinkle in the pecorino, toss everything together well to thicken and coat the pasta. Add some freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
Recipe by Kate Zagorski
Kate Zagorski has lived in Italy since 2000. Married to a food-obsessed Roman chef, she leads food tours and also worksa freelance food and travel writer. For more of her recipes see Wanted in Rome recipe page.