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The 4 Roman Pastas

The 4 Roman Pastas
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  • The 4 Roman Pastas

    Post #1 - November 14th, 2021, 9:36 pm
    Post #1 - November 14th, 2021, 9:36 pm Post #1 - November 14th, 2021, 9:36 pm
    After returning from Italy, although we were nowhere near Rome, I decided to make what seem to be referred to as the 4 Roman pastas. Here are my thoughts in each one.

    Cacio e Pepe: With just pepper and cheese, this pasta has bold, balanced flavors. It's appearing in more menus in the U.S. and for good reason; we really like it. It's the hardest one from a technique standpoint as you're emulsifying without the assistance of any fat. But after 2 tries I made a pretty good version. I used Pecorino, of course, and ground the pepper mortar, which I think added to the boldness of the pepper flavor.

    Pasta alla Gricia: We'd never had this dish, which consists of cheese (Pecorino), pepper and a cured pork product, and it may be our favorite. The three flavors of salty pork, Pecorino and pepper balance beautifully. A simple and quick dish once you have the technique down of using the right amount of pasta water to make the sauce.

    Pasta all'Amatriciana: This dish adds tomato to the Gricia recipe, and in our version some onion. While certainly enjoyable, this was the least interesting dish to my taste as the pork, cheese and pepper trio just became background for a tomato sauce.

    Carbonara: Luscious and delicious. The great trio of pork, cheese and pepper meld in a silky sauce. I used a Pecorino Parmagiano mixture. I think I would enjoy it with just Pecorino, but not just Parmagiano as I like the salty kick from Pecorino.

    Two additional notes:
    1. I used pancetta in the first 3, but got a hold of some guanciale for the carbonara. Both are great and similar. Guanciale, at least in the piece I got, had a bit more fat and a somewhat funkier flavor.
    2. I started with whole wheat pasta, which is my preference normally, but I don't think it gives off enough starch. I switched to some pricey but very good imported Italian pasta (Morelli) that includes some of the wheat germ, so you get a bit of that nutty flavor I like, but with tons of starch.

    I highly recommend this adventure to all who haven't made these dishes.
    All comments are welcome!
  • Post #2 - November 14th, 2021, 10:44 pm
    Post #2 - November 14th, 2021, 10:44 pm Post #2 - November 14th, 2021, 10:44 pm

    I am linking here older discussions that may be quite interesting:

    Pork cheeks/hog jowls/sweetbreads....for Amatriciana

    Wine pairing for bucatini all'Amatriciana?

    Comments by Antonius on Amatriciana

    Carbonara/. Long ago, Antonius did a talk on Carbonara for Culinary Historians of Chicago. Mixed in this thread is my take on Carbonara to his definition.

    Long ago, Antonius wrote quite a bit on Italian food and culture. It is totally worth looking out for them.


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  • Post #3 - November 16th, 2021, 11:58 am
    Post #3 - November 16th, 2021, 11:58 am Post #3 - November 16th, 2021, 11:58 am
    I have tasted multiple versions of both Amatriciana and Carbonara over the years in three visits to Rome.

    In theory, these are both simple dishes--Amatriciana with 5 ingredients: guanciale, olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, Pecorino Romano. Tried it for the first time at Da Giggetto in the Jewish Ghetto area, just fabulous. Other times in Rome the Amatriciana was OK, but not like Da Giggetto's version. And at home I've tried to reproduce it, even adding a little onion and/or Italian parsley. Good but not authentic.

    Carbonara is tricky, using egg yolk as the binder for a sauce. Key is, again, guanciale & Pecorino Romano, and strong (I like African) black pepper. Again, only one version in Rome hit the pinnacle. A personal recommendation from Katie Parla, Ristorante Emma near Campo de' Fiori hit the marks on that dish, rich without being glutenous. Haven't even attempted it at home.

    I will say that here in town, on both counts, the versions are decent, edible, but never even close to transcendent.
  • Post #4 - November 16th, 2021, 12:16 pm
    Post #4 - November 16th, 2021, 12:16 pm Post #4 - November 16th, 2021, 12:16 pm
    Nothing like a little Jewish Ghetto guanciale.