This dish is actually the base recipe for a trilogy of classic Roman pastas. Add some beaten egg and Pecorino cheese to the steaming hot pasta and pancetta and you have alla carbonara. Add fresh chiles, white wine and tomatoes and you have all'amatriciana. For this recipe, use the rendered fat from the pancetta and resist the temptation to add chopped parsley to the finished dish for color; it just confuses the flavors.
Fast Weekday Pastas
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound pancetta or guanciale, thinly sliced and cut into long thin strips
1 pound perciatelli or spaghetti
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano Cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
Fill a large pot with water, cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, abut 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Add salt and the perciatelli to the boiling water, Cover partially until the water just returns to a boil, then uncover, stir the pasta and cook until al dente.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta, pasta water and the 1/2 cup of cheese to the pan and set over moderate heat. Season with 6 to 8 turns of a pepper mill and toss well. Serve the pasta in warmed bowls. Pass additional cheese and pepper separately.
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