1. Enter your nearest Italian deli and say, ‘I am cooking a Gricia, what do I need?’ If they’re not from Rome, they probably won’t know what the pancetta you’re talking about so show them this blog and then this list:
SERVES FOUR PEOPLE OR ONE RORY O’KEEFFE
500g dry pasta – High Quality Rigatoni*, Mezzi Rigatoni, or Mezzi Paccheri
200g Pecorino Romano
Black Pepper and Salt
*you’re cooking a Gricia recipe from the world’s foremost Gricia blogger, why are you buying Sainsbury’s own brand? To save 80p? Get a fucking grip. Buy Rummo, or De Cecco
The Italian behind the counter (do check they’re Italian – if not, leave and go elsewhere.) should cut the guanciale into ‘fette’ – slices – for you. If they ask ‘how thick?’, just laugh scornfully and say ‘I’m cooking with it. How thick do you think?!’. They will shamefully cut you the right width
2.At home, enter your kitchen and loudly declare: ‘it’s time to cook a bella Gricia, ragazzi!’
3. Put on the following playlist of terrible but fantastic Italian pop music: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5FqULbJfSlTnDVJD4vnUVq?si=1KTUktB_SpazUuggGgKD-w
4. Chop the guanciale into ‘matchsticks’, little cookable batons, and grate pretty much all of the cheese. You can also grate while the pasta cooks but I like to have everything ready so I don’t get stressed and scream at the people I’m cooking for.
5. Boil a saucepan of water. Then boil your kettle to top it up. You want as many litres of boiling water as possible. Add some salt.
6. Put a big frying pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the Guanciale matchsticks. They should sizzle. If they don’t, you’ve fucked up and it’s only step three. It’s okay. Relax. Increase the heat.
TOP TIP: An Italian called Federico cooked this for me once and he set my smoke alarm off because he made the Guanciale so crispy. I was angry. Then I tasted it. It is now an absolute necessity to crisp the living life out of that meat. When the smoke alarm goes off, scream ‘finally!’ and get your Italian wife to fan it with a rolling pin.
7. Once the meat is pretty crispy, add 100ml of white wine. Swig the rest while shouting ‘that’s-a bella pasta!’ in the vague direction of the Vatican.
8. As the wine evaporates, put 500g of that quality quality pasta into your boiling pan. Set a timer for 1 minute less than the packet says. If you disobeyed my advice to buy quality and you have an English brand, then set the timer for 3 minutes less but honestly what’s the point ‘cos you fucked it the minute you walked out the shop.
TOP TIP: Why not use the ten minute pasta cooking time to buy tickets to my show ‘When In Rome’ at Vault Festival? Just kidding: focus. Why not grind some pepper into the pecorino cheese so they’re pre-mixed?
9. Stir the pasta regularly. I like to go clockwise, then anti-clockwise, then fun figure of eights. But do whatever you need to do to keep your demons at bay.
10. When the pasta is nearly, set aside a ladleful of pasta water into a novelty mug. Then, when it’s ‘al dente’, drain the pasta, and add it to the frying pan.
11. Sprinkle in 3/4s of the pecorino romano, and mix mix mix. Pour in the novelty mug of pasta water and cook for two more minutes.
TOP TIP: To avoid losing pasta over the edge of the frying pan, I would re-use the empty saucepan and do some mixing in there too. If you have a sous chef (I use my sister, or my girlfriend, but others are available), scream at them to grind in the pepper “now, now!”
12. Serve in pretentious white bowls and sprinkle the last 1/4 of pecorino on top and grind an obscene amount of pepper on there.