Spaghetti alla Gricia
Over time I’ve been trying to cover Rome’s traditional pastas with an amatriciana and a carbonara, and then with those less traditional pastas like mezze maniche alla checca and mezze maniche con i broccoli romani. I’ve noticed that Roman cuisine has become fairly trendy lately, it could be that it is so familiar to me now that I am noticing it more, or that the simplicity and hominess of Roman cooking is more enticing during these rough times. It’s true, aside from the difficulty of finding quality cheese and if you replace pancetta with bacon, it is pretty easy to find the ingredients for many of the Roman pastas in your refrigerator and pantry on any night of the week.
Spaghetti alla gricia has not always been my favorite, it is essentially a carbonara without the egg or an amatriciana without the tomato. With all of the ingredients in our fridge one night, we decided to make a spaghetti alla gricia. It could have been fantastic, could have, but one of the things that we are struggling with in Charleston is finding the right cheese. It may be called pecorino romano, but there is no black wax around it and when grated it turned into weird clumps that were half melted (see above photo). When it met the hot pasta it turned to glue. The final picture may look delicious, but when trying to lift a few spaghetti with a fork, the entire bowl of pasta came with it. When we find real pecorino romano, I’ll finalized the Roman pasta repertoire with a cacio e pepe, in the meantime I’ll stick to carbonara and amatriciana.
- 1/4 lb of bacon (pancetta or guanciale would be better if available)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 lb of spaghetti
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated parmiggiano reggiano or pecorino romano
- salt to taste
Fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Cut bacon into small slices, chop onions. Heat the bacon in a heavy skillet over medium-low, as the bacon starts to sizzle, add onion. When onions starts to turn a golden brown add the oil and turn the heat to low. The onions and the pancetta will caramelize, but you don’t want them to burn.
Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
When the pasta is perfectly al dente, drain the pasta, but leave the burner on at a low flame. Return pasta to the pot on the low flame and add the onions and bacon and toss to cover the pasta.
Serve with grated parmiggiano or pecorino.