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Spaghetti with Guanciale and Cheese

Spaghetti with Guanciale and Cheese

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Serves 4 to 6.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from an internet recipe.

Guanciale is an Italian meat made from cured pork jowl. When prepared correctly, it has a rich flavor and fragrance. I would not have attempted this dish, but a friend brought me a piece (which sells locally for $26 per pound!). You could substitute bacon, pancetta of prosciutto.

Ingredients:

Salt, to taste
1 pound (450g) spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
7 ounces (200g) guanciale, coarsely chopped
½ cup (120ml) white wine
1 cup (2 ounces/55g) grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Optional: Chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley for garnish

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season the water with salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

While the water is heating, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the guanciale and sauté, turning often, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

If desired, spoon some of the excess fat from the pan after the meat is cooked. Add the white wine and cook to slightly reduce, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid and bring to a simmer.

Add the spaghetti and toss to coat. Cook, stirring often, until a thick sauce forms, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and add the cheese. Stir to distribute. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with additional grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper, then serve. If desired, garnish with a little chopped fresh parsley.

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