THE 4 PASTAS OF ROME

THE 4 ROMAN PASTAS // The Kitchy Kitchen

Your impression of La Dolce Vita says a lot about where you are in life. Do you find it exotic and romantic? Frustrating and vapid? Nostalgic and bitter sweet? The film covers seven episodes in a gossip rag journalist’s life. Seven nights, seven mornings, seven hills in Rome, the seven sins – there’s a lot of allegorical, metaphorical stuff going on, and the film meanders through what are essentially the dichotomies of modern culture. It’s beautiful and ugly; decadent and poor; filled with possibility but also despair; and there’s the constant tug of frustrated half measures and false starts, of moments missed or ignored. It’s a lot to unpack.

I hate the trope of “the city is a character too!” but in La Dolce Vita, it’s impossible to escape. Whether it’s the raging parties in the corners of the Baths of Caracalla, Anita Ekberg wandering through the alleys with a kitten on her head before she wades through the Trevi fountain, or the late nights spent on the happening Via Veneto – Rome is in constant action and reaction to it’s characters. It’s shiny and glamorous, but only after the economic miracle from a few years before. War, pain – real pain – are a short memory away, and imprinted on the ruins on top of which people have drunken bacchanalias.

There are four great Roman pastas, all connected: Gricia, Cacio e Pepe, Carbonara, and Amaratriciana. They each play off of the others and reveal different sides to the same concept. Gricia is simple and focused on the luscious guanciale fat with a dusting of pecorino, while cacio e pepe loses the meat and adds more cheese and pepper for rich sauce, add an egg and keep the meat and you have indulgent carbonara, skip the egg and add tomatoes for hearty amaratriciana. Pasta, guanciale, and pecorino are the veins that pulse through each one of these quintessentially Roman dishes. Just as Fellini examines and plays with our perception of fame culture and the cafe society, Italian cuisine can play with out perception of what a few simple ingredients can mean. Buon Apetito!

THE 4 PASTAS OF ROME // The KItchy Kitchen

THE 4 PASTAS OF ROME // The KItchy Kitchen

PASTA ALLA GRICIA

4 ounces of dried pasta

1/4 cup sliced or chopped guanciale

2 tablespoons of grated pecorino romano

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Bring your well-salted pasta water to a boil.

Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and place over medium heat, the oil will help the rendering process go a little faster. Once the guanciale has rendered out about half it’s fat (about 7 to 10 minutes), drop the pasta into the water. Make sure to slowly cook down the guanciale – no browning – you want it to look translucent and crisp. Turn the heat down if necessary. When the guanciale has softened, add a small splash of water from the pasta pot.

Lower the heat, and keep dribbling in spoonfuls of pasta cooking water as it evaporates, just enough to keep the guanciale moist. The starch in the pasta water will help you create a sauce.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan, then turn up the heat and listen for some sizzle. Reserve a cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta well, coating it with the guanciale and rendered fat, and add a small splash of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to bring it all together.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the grated Pecorino Romano cheese, but not too much. The cheese is meant to help bind, not be the star. Grind some black pepper into the pan, toss well and serve immediately on a warm plate.

THE 4 PASTAS OF ROME // The KItchy Kitchen

CACIO E PEPE

1/4 cup sliced or chopped guanciale

4 ounces of dried pasta

1 cup of grated pecorino romano

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Bring your well-salted pasta water to a boil.

Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and place over medium heat, the oil will help the rendering process go a little faster. Once the guanciale has rendering out about half it’s fat (about 7 to 10 minutes), drop the pasta into the water. Make sure to slowly cook down the guanciale – no browning – you want it to look translucent and crisp. Turn the heat down if necessary. When the guanciale has softened, remove the pieces of the guanciale (but leave the fat in the fat).

Lower the heat, and keep dribbling in spoonfuls of pasta cooking water as it evaporates, just enough to keep the guanciale moist. The starch in the pasta water will help you create a sauce.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan. Reserve a cup of pasta water. Remove the pan from heat, and toss the pasta well, coating it with the rendered fat and sprinkling in the cheese as you go. Add a small splash of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to bring it all together.

Grind some black pepper into the pan, toss well and serve immediately on a warm plate.

THE 4 PASTAS OF ROME // The KItchy Kitchen

CARBONARA

2 eggs

1/4 cup cream

1/2 cup of grated pecorino romano

1/4 cup guanciale

4 ounces dried pasta

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Bring your well-salted pasta water to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, and cheese. Set aside for later use.

Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and place over medium heat, the oil will help the rendering process go a little faster. Once the guanciale has rendering out about half it’s fat (about 7 to 10 minutes), drop the pasta into the water. Make sure to slowly cook down the guanciale – no browning – you want it to look translucent and crisp. Turn the heat down if necessary. When the guanciale has softened, add a small splash of water from the pasta pot.

Lower the heat, and keep dribbling in spoonfuls of pasta cooking water as it evaporates, just enough to keep the guanciale moist. The starch in the pasta water will help you create a sauce.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan, then turn up the heat and listen for some sizzle. Reserve a cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta well, coating it with the guanciale and rendered fat, and add a small splash of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to bring it all together.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture, stirring quickly. If you’re not quick you might end up with scrambled eggs. Grind some black pepper into the pan, toss well and serve immediately on a warm plate.

THE 4 PASTAS OF ROME // The KItchy Kitchen

AMARACITIANA

1/4 cup sliced or chopped guanciale

4 ounces of dried pasta

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes

1 cup tomato sauce

2 tablespoons of grated pecorino romano

pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Bring your well-salted pasta water to a boil.

Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and place over medium heat, the oil will help the rendering process go a little faster. Once the guanciale has rendering out about half it’s fat (about 7 to 10 minutes), drop the pasta into the water, and add the onion and chili pepper flake. Make sure to slowly cook down the guanciale – no browning – you want it to look translucent and crisp. Turn the heat down if necessary. When the guanciale has softened, add a small splash of water from the pasta pot. Add the tomato sauce to the pan, stirring to combine.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan, then turn up the heat and listen for some sizzle. Reserve a cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta well, coating it with the sauce, and add a small splash of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to bring it all together.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the grated Pecorino Romano cheese, but not too much. The cheese is meant to help bind, not be the star. Grind some black pepper into the pan, toss well and serve immediately on a warm plate.

4 thoughts on “THE 4 PASTAS OF ROME

  1. Sara

    As Italian, I can tell you that I found your introduction to these recipes so full of heart and passion, precise, sweet and touching. You remind me that I should make time to watch Fellini again, now that I am a grown up and I could understand so much more… Amazing. Thank you
    Just a note on the carbonara. Nobody in Italy puts cream in it. The original recipe for the sauce is only guanciale, eggs, cheese, pepper, and oil if needed. Apart from this, perfection.

    Reply
  2. mareen

    in my opinion the simple recipes are always the best ones. while i was in rome i ate the best pasta dishes of my life. most of them are the ones you wrote about here. i definitely will give them all a go. thanks for the great recipes and bringing back all the amazing memories of rome.
    xo.

    Reply

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