Pasta alla Gricia con Tartufo

Pasta alla Gricia con Tartufo

Purists will likely denounce this variation on the Italian classic, Pasta alla Gricia, which, they will insist, consists of nothing other than pasta tossed in the pan with cooked Guanciale, generous amounts of pepper, grated cheese and sufficient pasta water to make a rich ‘sauce’. My addition of Truffles … hence the ‘con Tartufo’ … will be viewed as heretical in and of itself, but the further inclusion of thinly sliced Broccolini stems may well earn me the death penalty should I ever visit Italy again. Trust me though, this is delicious…

Ingredient Notes

A Jar of Black Truffles in Oil
A Jar of Black Truffles in Oil

Do not be tempted to use Truffle Oil for this recipe, rather use the best Truffle you can find (or afford). My source, and pocket, was limited to the jar of Black Truffles in Oil you see picture above, but if you have access to fresh White Truffle, go ahead and be decadent.

Guanciale is the ne plus ultra for any Pasta alla Gricia, but even Italian purists will make allowances for Pancetta in its stead. Regular Bacon is sometimes used in a pinch, and actually is pretty good, but I believe this is still the last remaining offence for which you can get the death penalty in Italy.

As for the Broccolini, this is added in such a small amount that it is really included for a little color and textural appeal. You can omit it, if you like, but if you do use it, be sure to blanch it in a little boiling salted water for a minute or two before using it here.

The Basic Method

Frying Guanciale for Pasta alla Gricia con Tartufo
Frying Guanciale for Pasta alla Gricia con Tartufo

The first step is to get the pasta boiling in salted water, but once this is well underway it is time to get the Guanciale sautéing. This should be done at a medium temperature to allow a good deal of the fat to render out while leaving the surfaces only slightly crispy here and there.

A Basic Pasta alla Gricia
A Basic Pasta alla Gricia

Once the pasta is al dente, you can drain it and add it to the Guanciale in the pan along with the Pepper. When the strands are well coated, it is time to add the truffle and the cheese along with a little of the pasta water (about a quarter to one third of a cup ought to be sufficient).

Toss and stir until some of the water has evaporated and you are left with a thick, almost creamy coating for the pasta. Finally, add in the Broccolini, stir until all is piping hot and serve immediately…

Your Recipe Card:

Pasta alla Gricia con Tartufo

This Pasta alla Gricia con Tartufo recipe takes some liberties with an Italian classic by adding Truffles and a small amount of Broccolini.
Course: Main Course, Pasta Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Asiago Cheese, Bell Peppers, Broccolini, Guanciale, Spaghetti, Truffles
Author: John Thompson

Ingredients

  • 2 portions of Spaghetti
  • 100 grams of Guanciale sliced into batons
  • 1 tsp or more freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1 ½ Tbsp slivered Black Truffle
  • ½ cup pre-blanched Broccolini sliced thinly crosswise
  • 3 Tbsp Grated Pecorino-Roman Cheese plus more for the table

Instructions

  • Add the Pasta to boiling salted water.
  • Add a thin film of oil to the bottom of a pan over moderate heat and slowly fry the Guanciale until it has rendered its fat and is beginning to turn slightly crispy.
  • When the Pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving some cooking water and add it to the pan along with the Pepper.
  • Stir to coat the Pasta with the rendered fat and then add the Truffle, Cheese, and enough pasta cooking water to form a smooth sauce.
  • Add the Broccolini, then stir for a minute or so longer and plate for service.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!