SPAGHETTI WITH GUANCIALE AND ONIONS

THE INSPIRATION FOR THIS DISH WAS PASTA I ATE AT LUPA ON SULLIVAN STREET:  GUANCIALE AND A PILE OF CARAMELIZED ONIONS WITH SPAGHETTI.  I ASKED THE WAITER HOW THEY DID THE ONIONS AND HE TOLD ME THEY COOKED THEM DOWN IN A LOW OVEN.  I TRIED THIS ONCE AND BURNT THE ONIONS.  ONIONS WILL GO FROM CARAMELIZED TO BURNED VERY QUICKLY, SO YOU NEED TO KEEP AN EYE ON THEM.  THIS IS MORE EASILY ACCOMPLISHED ON TOP OF THE STOVE.  GUANCIALE, A BACON CURED FROM THE JOWL OF THE PIG, IS A BIT GAMIER THAN ORDINARY BACON, ALTHOUGH GOOD, SMOKED, THICK-SLICED BACON IS AN ACCEPTABLE SUBSTITUTE.  IF YOU WANT TO SPICE IT UP A BIT SPRINKLE A FEW CHILI FLAKES OVER THE ONIONS AS THEY COOK DOWN.  OTHER THAN THAT, THERE AREN'T TOO MANY OPTIONS LEFT FOR THIS BLISSFULLY SIMPLE AND FLAVORFUL PASTA.  PARMESAN OR PECORINO ROMANO?  I USE BOTH.  

 ½ lb GUANCIALE
 1 LARGE RED ONION
 1 PACKAGE OF SPAGHETTI OR CHITARRA
 1 ½ cups FRESH-GRATED PARMESAN OR PECORINO ROMANO
 ITALIAN PARSLEY

1

SLICE THE GUANCIALE 1/4" THICK THEN INTO PIECES ABOUT 1/2" SQUARE. PLACE IN A CAST IRON PAN WITH JUST A SPLASH OF OLIVE OIL.

COOK ON A LOW FLAME UNTIL THE GUANCIALE IS BROWNED BUT STILL A BIT SOFT.

MEANWHILE, PEEL AND SLICE THE ONION 1/4" THICK. YOU SHOULD HAVE AN ALARMING PILE OF ONIONS. DON'T WORRY, THEY COOK DOWN A LOT.

WHEN THE ONIONS HAVE BROWNED ADD THE ONIONS. SPRINKLE WITH A LITTLE SALT, PEPPER AND CHILI FLAKES IF YOU LIKE. COVER. COOK ON LOW FLAME TURNING WITH TONGS EVERY TEN MINUTES OR SO. IT WILL TAKE AT LEAST 20 MINUTES FOR THE ONIONS TO START TO CARAMELIZE.

UNCOVER AND CONTINUE COOKING AND TURNING THE ONIONS TILL THEY ARE A DARK GOLD IN COLOR.

BRING A LARGE POT OF WATER TO A BOIL. SALT GENEROUSLY. BOIL THE PASTA AS DIRECTED (ABOUT 10 MINUTES). TOWARDS THE END OF THE COOKING, SCOOP OUT A CUP OF PASTA WATER AND RESERVE.

DRAIN THE PASTA, THEN RETURN IT TO THE POT. PLACE OVER A MEDIUM FLAME. ADD THE GUANCIALE AND ONIONS, 1/2 CUP OF PASTA WATER AND 1/2 CUP GRATED CHEESES.

STIR VIGOROUSLY WITH A WOODEN SPOON UNTIL MOST OF THE LIQUID HAS EVAPORATED AND THE PASTA HAS A CREAMY TEXTURE.

EMPTY INTO A WARM PASTA BOWL*. SCATTER WITH ROUGHLY-CHOPPED PARSLEY. SERVE WTIH MORE CHEESE ON THE SIDE.

SERVES 4

*NOTE: PLACE THE EMPTY PASTA BOWL IN THE SINK UNDER THE COLANDER. THIS WAY, WHEN YOU DRAIN THE PASTA, THE HOT WATER WILL WARM THE BOWL.

Ingredients

 ½ lb GUANCIALE
 1 LARGE RED ONION
 1 PACKAGE OF SPAGHETTI OR CHITARRA
 1 ½ cups FRESH-GRATED PARMESAN OR PECORINO ROMANO
 ITALIAN PARSLEY

Directions

1

SLICE THE GUANCIALE 1/4" THICK THEN INTO PIECES ABOUT 1/2" SQUARE. PLACE IN A CAST IRON PAN WITH JUST A SPLASH OF OLIVE OIL.

COOK ON A LOW FLAME UNTIL THE GUANCIALE IS BROWNED BUT STILL A BIT SOFT.

MEANWHILE, PEEL AND SLICE THE ONION 1/4" THICK. YOU SHOULD HAVE AN ALARMING PILE OF ONIONS. DON'T WORRY, THEY COOK DOWN A LOT.

WHEN THE ONIONS HAVE BROWNED ADD THE ONIONS. SPRINKLE WITH A LITTLE SALT, PEPPER AND CHILI FLAKES IF YOU LIKE. COVER. COOK ON LOW FLAME TURNING WITH TONGS EVERY TEN MINUTES OR SO. IT WILL TAKE AT LEAST 20 MINUTES FOR THE ONIONS TO START TO CARAMELIZE.

UNCOVER AND CONTINUE COOKING AND TURNING THE ONIONS TILL THEY ARE A DARK GOLD IN COLOR.

BRING A LARGE POT OF WATER TO A BOIL. SALT GENEROUSLY. BOIL THE PASTA AS DIRECTED (ABOUT 10 MINUTES). TOWARDS THE END OF THE COOKING, SCOOP OUT A CUP OF PASTA WATER AND RESERVE.

DRAIN THE PASTA, THEN RETURN IT TO THE POT. PLACE OVER A MEDIUM FLAME. ADD THE GUANCIALE AND ONIONS, 1/2 CUP OF PASTA WATER AND 1/2 CUP GRATED CHEESES.

STIR VIGOROUSLY WITH A WOODEN SPOON UNTIL MOST OF THE LIQUID HAS EVAPORATED AND THE PASTA HAS A CREAMY TEXTURE.

EMPTY INTO A WARM PASTA BOWL*. SCATTER WITH ROUGHLY-CHOPPED PARSLEY. SERVE WTIH MORE CHEESE ON THE SIDE.

SERVES 4

*NOTE: PLACE THE EMPTY PASTA BOWL IN THE SINK UNDER THE COLANDER. THIS WAY, WHEN YOU DRAIN THE PASTA, THE HOT WATER WILL WARM THE BOWL.

SPAGHETTI WITH GUANCIALE AND ONIONS
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