Pasta Alla Gricia

Grisciano is a very small village in the heart of Central Italy, a few miles East of Rome.
History wants that the shepherds coming down from the mountains of Central Italy, to sell their cheese and pigs in the markets of the capital, would cook this dish while traveling; they would hang their Guanciale to their belts when leaving home, and whenever they stopped to rest and get fed, they would cook this very simple and yet very powerful traditional recipe.The Americas were not yet discovered, therefore Tomatoes were not part of the Italian diet at that moment; we can easily say that Pasta alla Gricia is the mother of the other two very famous recipes for pasta sauce that use Guanciale, the Carbonara and the Amatriciana.
This sauce is extremely simple in its execution and the freshness of all the ingredients will transport you far away…
Today we are pairing a special wine to our Pasta Alla Gricia: from my own town Fiesole, a brand new Super Tuscan that makes me very proud, “Il Soffocone di Vincigliata”. Until a few years ago, the area I grew up in, was famous for its traditionalism, and for the fact that the majority, if not all the wineries, only used Sangiovese grapes in order to earn the Chianti denomination. Now finally, wine producers like Bibi Graetz from the Castello di Vincigliata, started taking more risk in mixing different varieties of grapes, and this is very romantic, because it opened the door to many new flavors we can now enjoy at the table, accompanying our favorite meals.
Time to cook now!!!

INGREDIENTI

½ Lb Guanciale (cured Pig Cheek). You can order it online at Armandino Batali's Online Store.
¾ Cup of freshly grated Pecorino Cheese
5 Cloves of Garlic
4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Handful of Freshly Chopped Sage Leaves
1 Lb Pasta
1

Slice the Guanciale in thin strips, but do not chop it the way you would do with regular bacon; the strips will curl nicely when sautéing in the olive oil.

2

Peel the Garlic cloves.

3

In a large non-stick pan, heat the Olive Oil, and then add together the Guanciale and the Sage. Cook for about 10 minutes, making sure that the meat does not get too crunchy and the garlic does not burn…if you see that the garlic is browning too fast, remove it from the pan, finish the pork, and then add it again to the sauce.

4

When the Guanciale and the Garlic appear to be ready, add the Sage; since you probably rinsed it before, make sure the herbs are well dry, otherwise you’ll end up bathing yourself in a sprinkle of boiling oil!

5

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta to the water, and cook it about two minutes less than indicated on the box. Strain the pasta and add it to the sauce pan; on a medium-high flame, toss it around for a few seconds, then add the grated Pecorino.

6

After another minute of cooking and tossing it around, your Pasta Alla Gricia will be ready to serve.

7

Garnish with some grated Pecorino, a drop of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and some ground pepper…make sure you do have a bottle of robust red wine to go with it.

Buon Appetito

Debi and Gabriele