Pasta alla Gricia (Rigatoni with Pancetta and Pecorino Romano)
Why This Recipe Works
Pasta alla gricia is a simple pasta dish based on cured pork, black pepper, and Pecorino Romano. The fat from the pork (guanciale is traditional, but easier-to-find pancetta works well) combines with starchy pasta cooking water and cheese to create a creamy sauce for the pasta. The traditional method is to let parcooked pasta finish cooking in the sauce, where it will release its starch for body, but the technique can be finicky. For consistent results, we cooked the pasta to al dente in half the usual amount of water and then added the extra-starchy pasta cooking water to the rendered pork fat and reduced the mixture to a specific volume. The boiling action further concentrated the starches in the water and emulsified the mixture before we mixed in the pasta.