Rome-based food writer Katie Parla, co-author of the new book Tasting Rome ($30), explains that spaghetti alla gricia is a Roman classic that's kind of like carbonara minus the egg, or amatriciana without the tomato. Either way, we fell in love with this mash-up the first time we tried it in our Test Kitchen. Rendered fat from the guanciale mixes with wine and cheese to make a creamy sauce that coats spaghetti. It's a super easy, authentic Italian dinner that you can whip up in less than 30 minutes.
Guanciale is an Italian meat made from cured pork jowl. It has a salty richness and intense pork flavor that will perfume your kitchen with meaty goodness. You can find it at any Italian grocery store and in many butcher shops, but feel free to substitute pancetta if you can't find any.
To learn more, read "Rome Sweet Rome."
Spaghetti alla Gricia (Spaghetti with Guanciale and Cheese)
Recipe adapted from 'Tasting Rome,' by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill (Clarkson Potter)
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Kosher salt, to taste
1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
7 ounces guanciale, cut into 1½-by-½-inch strips
½ cup white wine
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Season the water with salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 9 to 11 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the guanciale and cook, turning often, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Add the white wine and cook until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. Pour in the reserved 1 cup of cooking liquid and bring to a simmer.
4. Add the pasta and the grated cheese and toss to coat. Cook, stirring vigorously, until a thick sauce forms, 2 to 3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Divide the pasta between plates and garnish with more grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper, then serve.