Thursday, March 7, 2024

Pasta alla Gricia


Pasta alla gricia is one of those pastas that should be more well known, but is rarely found on menus in Italian restaurants in the U.S. It's one of the iconic pasta dishes in Italy's Lazio region, especially Rome, along with bucatini all'amatriciana (almost like gricia but with tomatoes) or pasta alla carbonara (similar to gricia but with eggs) and cacio e pepe (no guanciale, just pecorino and pepper).  It's a simple dish to put together with only a few ingredients -- guanciale (pork cheek), olive oil, black pepper and pecorino cheese. If you can't find guanciale where you live, do an online search and you're sure to find a source that can mail it to your door. Start out by cutting the guanciale into small batons with some fat and meat on each piece. 

They have a tendency to burn if cooked too quickly, so take your time and slowly cook them until crispy. 

Remove the guanciale pieces and set them aside, but keep the rendered fat in the pan.

Add the boiled pasta (I used calamarata, but rigatoni is the traditional shape used with this dish) and swirl in the rendered fat, adding some of the pasta water. Stir everything quickly to create an emulsified sauce. Remove from the heat and add the grated pecorino cheese, mixing everything together quickly.

Serve with additional pecorino on the side. 

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Pasta Alla Gricia

1/2 lb. pasta (rigatoni, paccheri or calamarata)
1/2 lb. guanciale, cut into batons
2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
hot pasta water, as needed

Add the olive oil to a saucepan along with the guanciale. Cook the guanciale batons over low to medium heat until crispy, taking care not to burn them.
Remove the batons and set aside but keep the rendered fat in the pan.
Cook the pasta and drain, keeping some of the pasta water.
Place the pasta into the pan with the rendered fat, and grind the fresh pepper all over the pasta.
Stir the pasta into the rendered fat, along with enough pasta water to make an emulsified sauce.
Put the guanciale batons back into the pan and remove from the heat.
Add the grated pecorino and stir until everything is mixed together and creamy.
Serve with additional pecorino if desired.


  1. I love paccheri! This dish is so pretty.

  2. Hi Linda,
    This is a favorite spring/summer dish in our house. Luckily we have great Italian market in Lund that always has guanciale as well as wonderful pancetta. It's makes a great dinner that we enjoy with olive oil and garlic marinated ripe tomatoes.