Ann’s Paccheri alla Gricia

Paccheri alla Gricia is one of my favorite pasta fast-foods. I have to add that it's kinda sorta alla gricia, being based on that idea rather than strictly trad as I like to toss it with a couple of big handfuls of spicy baby arugula at the very end before serving. You can make this dish with any kind of pasta, the pantry basic spaghetti being more usual, but I love the bite of fat, chewy paccheri with aromatic pancetta, and depending on the brand, they can take up to 15 minutes to cook,  just enough time to get the sauce together. Fast. Easy. Delicious. Perfect.

AuthorAnn Gaffney
RatingDifficultyBeginner

When making Ann's paccheri alla gricia, addling the pasta water to the sauce and then reducing it, adds an amazing amount of flavor and helps the oils in the sauce to emulsify.

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Paccheri alla Gricia
Yields4 Servings
Prep Time15 minsCook Time25 minsTotal Time40 mins
 water as needed to cook pasta
 10 oz paccheri or other pasta
 2 tbsp olive oil
 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
 4 oz pancetta, diced
 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
 3 whole, dried, pequin peppers(optional)
 ½ cup freshly grated pecorino cheese, divided (see Ann's Tips)
 2 cups packed, baby arugula, or to taste
 salt to taste
1

Fill a stock or pasta pot 2/3 full with water. Add salt to taste. Bring to a rolling boil over a high flame. Depending on your stove this will take about 10 minutes. As soon as the water boils, add the paccheri. Cook 1 minute less than packet directions. (See Ann's Tips)

2

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan or wok. When it starts to ripple, add the ground pepper cook 30seconds then add the pancetta. Stir to mix. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the pancetta is pink on all sides and its fat translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan, and, if using, the hot pequin peppers. Cook until the garlic starts to turn a little golden at the edges and the pancetta is starting to color too. About 2-3 minutes.

3

Turn the flame up to medium-high. Add 1/4 cup of the boiling pasta water to the pan. It will spit and sizzle. Cook until it has been reduced to a syrupy sauce, about 3 minutes. Repeat. You will do this several more times while the pasta is cooking.

4

About 2 minutes before the pasta is due to be ready, add 2 tablespoons of the grated pecorino cheese to the sauce. Cook stirring until it is melted into the sauce and the sauce looks syrupy and almost creamy. Stir in another round of pasta water if it starts to stick to the pan.

5

As soon as the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup of the water and drain. Add the drained pasta to the sauce along with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir to coat the pasta with sauce. Cook stirring for 1 minute. The pasta will absorb the liquid, so if it looks dry, add more reserved pasta water a tablespoon at a time to keep some sauce at the bottom of the pan.

6

Sprinkle with the remaining cheese over the pasta. Stir to mix. Add the arugula to the pan. Toss together until the greens wilt, about 30seconds. Plate immediately, spooning sauce and greens from the pan over the pasta. Serve with extra freshly grated pecorino to taste.

Ann's Tips
7

- I add about 1 tablespoon of salt to my pasta water.
- I always cook the pasta less time than directed so that it can finish cooking in the sauce until perfectly 'al dente'
- I usually start to prep the pancetta and the garlic as soon as I put the pasta water on to boil.
- When making paccheri alla gricia addling the pasta water to the sauce and then reducing it, adds an amazing amount of flavor and helps the oils in the sauce to emulsify. I try to time this so that the last time the sauce needs water is when I add the pasta.
- if you don't have fresh pecorino, use freshly grated Parmesan cheese instead. It doesn't melt into the sauce quite as well but is a good substitute.

Ingredients

 water as needed to cook pasta
 10 oz paccheri or other pasta
 2 tbsp olive oil
 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
 4 oz pancetta, diced
 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
 3 whole, dried, pequin peppers(optional)
 ½ cup freshly grated pecorino cheese, divided (see Ann's Tips)
 2 cups packed, baby arugula, or to taste
 salt to taste

Directions

1

Fill a stock or pasta pot 2/3 full with water. Add salt to taste. Bring to a rolling boil over a high flame. Depending on your stove this will take about 10 minutes. As soon as the water boils, add the paccheri. Cook 1 minute less than packet directions. (See Ann's Tips)

2

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan or wok. When it starts to ripple, add the ground pepper cook 30seconds then add the pancetta. Stir to mix. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the pancetta is pink on all sides and its fat translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan, and, if using, the hot pequin peppers. Cook until the garlic starts to turn a little golden at the edges and the pancetta is starting to color too. About 2-3 minutes.

3

Turn the flame up to medium-high. Add 1/4 cup of the boiling pasta water to the pan. It will spit and sizzle. Cook until it has been reduced to a syrupy sauce, about 3 minutes. Repeat. You will do this several more times while the pasta is cooking.

4

About 2 minutes before the pasta is due to be ready, add 2 tablespoons of the grated pecorino cheese to the sauce. Cook stirring until it is melted into the sauce and the sauce looks syrupy and almost creamy. Stir in another round of pasta water if it starts to stick to the pan.

5

As soon as the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup of the water and drain. Add the drained pasta to the sauce along with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir to coat the pasta with sauce. Cook stirring for 1 minute. The pasta will absorb the liquid, so if it looks dry, add more reserved pasta water a tablespoon at a time to keep some sauce at the bottom of the pan.

6

Sprinkle with the remaining cheese over the pasta. Stir to mix. Add the arugula to the pan. Toss together until the greens wilt, about 30seconds. Plate immediately, spooning sauce and greens from the pan over the pasta. Serve with extra freshly grated pecorino to taste.

Ann's Tips
7

- I add about 1 tablespoon of salt to my pasta water.
- I always cook the pasta less time than directed so that it can finish cooking in the sauce until perfectly 'al dente'
- I usually start to prep the pancetta and the garlic as soon as I put the pasta water on to boil.
- When making paccheri alla gricia addling the pasta water to the sauce and then reducing it, adds an amazing amount of flavor and helps the oils in the sauce to emulsify. I try to time this so that the last time the sauce needs water is when I add the pasta.
- if you don't have fresh pecorino, use freshly grated Parmesan cheese instead. It doesn't melt into the sauce quite as well but is a good substitute.

Ann’s Paccheri alla Gricia

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