Cacio e pepe Or Spaghetti alla Gricia

Spaghetti alla Gricia

I switched to TLC watching Anthony Bourdain.  He was in Rome, about to leave.  Taking a window of the last 2 hours, he went to Cacio e pepe to enjoy a pasta dish simply with pecorino cheese & pepper.  Delicious, he claimed.  And it’s the last important thing before leaving Rome.

The next day I purchased capsules at Nespresso.  Before I left I glimpsed someone taking a magazine.  It featured Rome, the beloved eternal city, one of my favourite cities in the world. Flipping the pages a recipe of Spaghetti alla Gricia stuck me.  What? A pasta dish with Pecorino Romano and pepper?  Such a coincidence!  It is from Trattoria Armando al Pantheon.  Then let’s try it out.

Serves 4, yes only as appetizer or first dish in Italian way.

360g spaghetti
200g guanciale (pork jowl bacon)  I used two slices bacon for a one person meal
80g grated pecorino Romano  (I grated a handful, not knowing the weight)
2 spoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 glass white wine

Spaghetti alla Gricia1

Heat the oil and add the diced guanciale. I just took the normal bacon as guanciale is not available in Hong Kong.

When fairly crispy add cooked pasta water and remove from the heat

Pour drained spaghetti into the pan with the bacon and mix with some of the pecorino.

Once the mixture is creamy, serve it with the rest of Pecorino and a big pinch of black pepper.

Of course, more Pecorino!

Yum!  Simple and tasty!  I don’t need to return to Rome to enjoy this fantastic dish. Just do it any time.  White wine is used by the Trattoria.  But pasta water did it fine.  It is said the guanciale tastes very different from bacon.  No problem at all.  Or we can better call the dish Cicao e pepe, cheese and pepper.   Just make sure that you don’t add strange or innovative ingredients, else it won’t be the one intended.  Read here to reference how strict or serious Italian can be.  To make a real Cacio e pepe next time, I’ll simply skip the bacon.


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