Pasta alla gricia recipe: Rome on a plate!

by marta
Plate of pasta alla gricia in Rome

Traditional recipe for pasta alla Gricia, one of Rome’s most famous pasta dishes. Step by step in striations to cook pasta alla Gricia at home and bring a burst of Rome flavour to your table.

Pasta alla Gricia is one of the most famous dishes from Rome.

With carbonara, cacio e pepe and amatriciana, it makes up the fab 4 of Rome pasta dishes and is made with ingredients that are typical of the Rome area namely Pecorino Romano (cheese) and guanciale (pork).

Gricia is somehow less famous than the other dishes on this list however, there is reason to believe it is the oldest of all and, possibly, the base for some of the others.

Indeed, if you look at the ingredients, this sounds like a reasonable assumption.

If you add eggs to pasta alla gricia, you get carbonara and if you add tomato sauce, you get amatriciana. However, gricia is more than egg-free carbonara or white amatriciana. Its story, while controversial, tells us why.

Today, I share it with you. If you want to get to the recipe straight away, you can scroll to the bottom of this page.

Photo collage of pasta alla gricia closeup and ingredient shot of cooking pork + overlay text: pasta alla Gricia with step by step instructions

The story of pasta alla Gricia: where does Gricia come from?

The origins of pasta alla gricia are unclear.

Some say that its names derives from the place where this pasta was born, Grisciano, a small town in Lazio, the region of Rome. In this case, the etymology of this plate seems to follow that of pasta all’ Amatriciana, so-called as created in the town of Amatrice, also near Rome.

Pasta all’amatriciana is pasta ‘Amatrice way’ and gricia is pasta ‘Grisciano way’.

Others think the name of the past comes from the name ‘Gricio’ which is the 1400 was used for the bakers. According to this theory, the ‘Grici’ would make this simple dish on a carbon fire in their bakery shop, using the few, simple ingredients they could afford.

Last but not least, another theory attaches the making of pasta alla gricia to the ‘transumamza‘, the moving of shepherds that is typical of the region of Lazio and Southern Italy.

During their long time on the road, the shepherds would be able to only carry simple and long lasting ingredients such as guanciale and cheese, and would therefore make pasta to make a full meal out of them.

Whatever theory we want to go with, there is no doubt that pasta alla gricia is an ancient recipe and one that taps into a very traditional way of life in Lazio and ingredients that are specifically from the region.

What do you need to make pasta alla gricia

  • Pasta (dried is ok, you don’t need to make fresh pasta for it) with salt and water for cooking
  • Guanciale
  • Pecorino Romano
  • Black pepper
  • Non-stick pan
  • Pasta pot and strainer
  • Pasta bowl for serving

Pasta alla gricia ingredients for 4 people

  • 400 gr pasta (mezze maniche, rigatoni, tonnarelli, spaghetti all work well)
  • Pecorino Romano 100gr
  • Guanciale 200 gr
  • Salt and black pepper to taste.

How to make pasta alla gricia: method

Start heating up the water to cook your pasta. Add salt and bring to a boil

While the water heats up, cut the guanciale in small cubes 1cm x 0.5 cm thick (make sure you remove the skin)

Heat up a non-stick pan and put the guanciale in. Let it cook on medium heat until the pork is fully cooked. There is no need to add butter or oil: the fat of the guanciale will melt in the hot pan and will be enough to cook the meat.

As soon as your water is boiling, cook the pasta and start grating the pecorino in the large pasta bowl you will use to serve your trivial

Two minutes before the pasta is ready, take a spoonful of pasta cooking water and add it to the pecorino: mix well so that the cheese slowly turns into a nice smooth cream.

Then take some more water and add it to the guanciale.

At this point, drain the pasta and add it to the pan with guanciale so that it starts getting coated with the fat and taste of the meat.

Finally, move onto the pasta bowl and mix with the pecorino sauce. once the pasta is nicely coated by the sauce, add extra grated pecorino and freshly grated black pepper and serve hot.

Mistakes to avoid making pasta alla gricia

When making pasta alla gricia, you have a few enemies that can stir you away from the best and most traditional result however, that are easy to avoid.

Using oil – pasta alla gricia doesn’t need oil. You can easily cook the guanciale without it and, if you really want to add something else, then add animal fat, not vegetable or olive oil if you want to stay close to tradition.

Replacing black pepper with chilli – gricia is made with black pepper only. If you find you need extra heat, add extra black pepper but stay away from the very different heat of the chili.

Adding garlic, onion or herbs – the beauty of pasta alla gricia is its simplicity, no need to add anything!

Not preparing the pecorino in advance – pecorino is a temperamental cheese that will only turn into a nice sauce if carefully mixed with pasta cooking water (not any water, it doesn’t work! You need the starch of the pasta water for the magic sauce to happen). Your biggest enemy when preparing gricia is adding the pecorino to the pasta instead of the pasta to the pecorino. Make sure you make your pecorino sauce first for a truly luscious result.

Pasta alla Gricia recipe (authentic)

Pasta alla Gricia recipe (authentic)

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Delicious, authentic recipe for pasta alla gricia, a typical Rome dish made of pasta, pecorino cheese, guanciale (pork) and black pepper. A warming pasta dish from Rome using poopular, poor ingredients local to the Lazio region, the region of Rome.

Ingredients

  • 400 gr pasta (mezze maniche, penne, etc)
  • 200 gr guanciale
  • 100 gr pecorino cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Start heating up the water to cook your pasta. Add salt and bring to a boil
  2. While the water heats up, cut the guanciale in small cubes 1cm x 0.5 cm thick (make sure you remove the skin)
  3. Heat up a non-stick pan and put the guanciale in. Let it cook on medium heat until the pork is fully cooked. There is not need to add butter or oil: the fat of the guanciale will melt in the hot pan and will be enough to cook the meat.
  4. As soon as your water is boiling, cook the pasta and start grating the pecorino in the large pasta bowl you will use to serve your trivial
  5. Two minutes before the pasta is ready, take a spoonful of pasta cooking water and add it to the pecorino: mix well so that the cheese slowly turns into a nice smooth cream.
  6. Then take some more water and add it to the guanciale.
  7. At this point, drain the pasta and add it to the pan with guanciale so that it starts getting coated with the fat and taste of the meat.
  8. Finally, move onto the pasta bowl and mix with the pecorino sauce.
  9. Once the pasta is nicely coated by the sauce, add extra grated pecorino and freshly grated black pepper and serve hot.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Buon appetito!

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