Another dish you always find in Roman restaurants, besides spaghetti alla carbonara, is rigatoni alla gricia, which is the forefather of the more famous “Amatriciana” and is made with guanciale, pecorino romano and black pepper. There are different versions of its origins: some say it comes from Grisciano, a small town close to Amatrice bordering on the regions of Lazio, Umbria, Marche and Abruzzo. Others think that it originated from a group of Swiss immigrants that lived in that area and came originally from the alpine canton of Grigioni (“Grischuna” in their original language), where they had used bacon in their recipes for centuries.
Being Swiss and somewhat of a patriot myself, I like this version better and for all I know the name of the town Grisciano might very well have the same origins as the recipe.
My variation (and many people would kill me for this) is to add some chopped onions to the frying mix, sometimes even sprinkle it with a half glass of dry white wine and let it evaporate for extra flavor. You can try and see what you like best.
Alibaba is our mysterious chef-photographer based in Rome, Italy. You can read his earlier columns and recipes here.
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 6 ounces guanciale
- 1/4 pound Pecorino Romano, grated
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
- Cut the guanciale in thick slices, then cut the slices in chunks about 1/3” wide.
- Throw the cut guanciale in a hot pan until the fat melts and the meat starts browning.
- Add onion and white wine, if using, and allow the wine to evaporate. Turn off the flame.
- Cook the rigatoni al dente and add to pan.
- Mix it up in the pan quickly until all the pasta gets moist with fat.
- Divide among plates and sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper and grated pecorino romano.