Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
One big skillet of comfort, coming right up. Pasta alla Gricia is one of the quintessential pasta dishes of Rome, and what makes it so fantastic is how simple it is. Just 5 ingredients total – and one of those is just black pepper! Because the ingredients are so limited, this dish really benefits from getting ones that are great quality.
Traditionally, in Italy, we use guanciale, which is a cured Italian pork product. It’s a specialty item, and you can often only find it in gourmet grocery stores or Italian markets. I decided to make it extra easy with a much more accessible ingredient in the states… bacon! I think bacon works wonderfully as an alternative here – pancetta would even do the trick, too.
The magic with this pasta comes from the way the Pecorino and Parmesan emulsify with the starchy pasta water – so save that pasta water! It creates a really deliciously creamy sauce that is just unbeatable. Make sure you stir it frequently once you add the cheese in, and don’t be afraid to ladle in extra pasta water as needed!
Giada's Pasta Alla Gricia
- 3/4 pound 12 ounces applewood smoked bacon, diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground coarse black pepper
- 1 pound linguine pasta
- 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese plus more to serve
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- To a large skillet add the diced bacon. Place over medium heat and cook the bacon until the fat in rendered and the bacon is crispy, about 20 minutes. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan. Stir in the pepper and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season it generously with kosher salt. Cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package directions, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup of pasta water to the pan with the bacon and return the pan to medium high heat scrpaing up the bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Using tongs, remove the pasta from the water and add it directly to the pan with the sauce. Sprinkle the bare pasta with the 2 cheeses and begin to toss the pasta with the sauce. Continue to stir and toss until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta and the pasta is cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes Through this process, you may need to add more pasta water as needed to help cook the pasta and maintain a sauce. This could take up to a cup more pasta water. Serve topped with more cheese if desired.