6 ounces guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), cut into ¾-inch pieces
8 ounces rigatoni
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, preferably ground with a mortar and pestle
3 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated on the small holes of a box grater (about 3 cups)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium low. Cook guanciale, stirring often, until it starts to brown and crisp, 10 15 minutes; it will shrink dramatically as the fat renders. Transfer to a small bowl with a slotted spoon; reserve skillet (do not wipe out).
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling lightly salted water, stirring occasionally, until pasta is about halfway cooked (not quite al dente); drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
Add ¾ cup pasta cooking liquid to reserved skillet and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, swirling often to encourage drippings and liquid to emulsify, about 1 minute. Add pasta and cook, tossing often and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until pasta is al dente and a thick, glossy sauce forms, 5–7 minutes (this second cooking is why you undercook the pasta initially).
Increase heat to medium-high. Add guanciale, pepper, and two-thirds of Pecorino; toss well to combine and melt cheese. Serve pasta topped with remaining Pecorino.
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