Gricia is one of the signature dishes of Roman cooking. Often referred to as the “Amatriciana without tomato”, it’s second to none when it comes to flavor. You can also call it “Carbonara without eggs”, or “Cacio & Pepe” with guanciale. But there are a few secrets that make it’s execution unique. Maybe you’ve already guessed the ingredients… Let’s get to work then.
A quick note on the pasta you are supposed to use, I would recommend Rigatoni, Elicoidali or Mezze Maniche. But if you prefer long pasta formats, go for tick spaghetti, bucatini, chitarra, vermicelli. Nobody uses egg pasta for this.
230g Mezze Maniche or other durum wheat pasta
Red hot chili pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Put a large pot full of water on the stove and while it gets to a boil, prepare the guanciale.
Cut it into thick slices and then into matchsticks, with a 3-4mm tick squared section. Place them in a large, non stick, pan. Make sure they are all single layered in the pan, that’s one of my secrets. Add a little EVOO and let it go on low/med flame. Cover with a lid, and stir frequently until the guanciale gets golden brown and its fat is no longer translucent. Crunchy, crispy guanciale, that’s what you want. Few minutes before, add the crushed spicy chili to the pan.
Meanwhile cook the pasta “al dente”, my trick is to cook it 2 min less than the box says. Save some water from the cooking, drain the pasta and add it to the pan. Toss and turn the flame off. Now we need some magic. Sprinkle with generous Pecorino Romano, almost making the pasta tick, at this point slowly add some of the water from the pasta you saved. It’s a very delicate balance, basically the heat of the pasta will get the cheese to melt, while when you add the water it becomes creamy. Keep tossing till it’s perfect. Nothing should remain in the pan, a little white creamy sauce should coat each piece of pasta. It’s ready, grind some fresh pepper on top of each plate and bring it to table.