The odd couple: “spaghetti alla ‘matriciana”.

When I arrived early in the morning at Alessandro’s house, all the ingredients were tidily displayed on the table: guanciale, pecorino cheese, tomatoes from the countryside, onion and spaghetti. I smiled because my cooking friend once again proved himself to be as shrewd as the devil: ‘matriciana for breakfast.

We put on our aprons and set to work: we placed a pan of water on to boil and (trick worth noting) an iron pan to heat. That’s right because to make the ‘matriciana the way we like it, you need to forget about non-stick, aluminum or other fancy pans; only iron simultaneously snuggles and mistreats the guanciale appropriately.

I cut the guanciale into little bricks not too small, as they must endure a cooking session that will make them crunchy on the outside and fondant inside; when I chuck out a strip of fat Alessandro, the cunning old fox, smiles at me and says with a devious smile: “Andrè, take a look and learn”, he puts it in the hot pan to melt, preparing the base in which to start cooking the sauce.

The little bricks of guanciale are sputtering nicely in the pan; we turn them over frequently until they form an outer crust: at this stage we take them off the heat and place them to rest on some kitchen roll. Half an onion, left whole and dipped briefly into the hot oil, is now sizzling in the pan and releasing smells in the kitchen and causing languor in our stomachs. Having removed the onion, it’s now time to put the pasta into the boiling water and the tomatoes into the pan over a moderate heat, adding the right amount of salt and pepper.

We then prepare a mixture of grated pecorino cheese with a dash of olive oil: the spaghetti need to be tossed in the cheese before being dressed in the sauce and finally enhanced with the guanciale that must be added last minute, so that it remains crunchy. I stir energetically and prepare two abundant plates, the wine is already at the table, a toast and here is the perfect breakfast: if you don’t believe me, you should try it.

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