La pasta alla zozzona | Turismo Roma
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Pasta alla zozzona

It is a feast for the palate, an almost poignant symphony of flavors and aromas, one of those dishes so heavenly, in short, that you might experience a twinge of “nostalgia for the present” as you eat it. It is in all likelihood not an ancient recipe (with different variations it has been around since the 1960s) but it celebrates Roman spirit in the cuisine no more and no less than other cornerstones of the city’s gastronomic tradition. And as in the case of other typical recipes that have also become gourmet dishes, it has recently witnessed a definite leap in popularity.

Its fame has in fact spread from the kitchens of the Roman homes and most popular trattorias to the other side of the ocean, winning over readers of the New York Times, for example. The newspaper recently dedicated an article and a post to “rigatoni alla zozzona” by Anna Francese Gass, also an expert on the cuisine of immigrant women to the US, on the much-followed Instagram page NytCooking that usually posts the world’s most delicious and interesting recipes, focusing on top and emerging food trends.

The success of pasta alla zozzona is also due at least in part to the simplicity and speed of execution. The sauce can be prepared in little more than the time it takes to cook the pasta, preferably rigatoni, the pasta shape that according to almost all recipe books is the most suitable for carrying and retaining the many components of the sauce. What do you need to bring it to the table? Pecorino Romano cheese, egg yolks, guanciale, sausage and cherry tomatoes or tomato sauce, the genuine and local ingredients that are typical to Lazio’s culinary tradition.

It may seem like a combination in the name of excess, a “kitchen sink” approach or a “big mess” as the New York Times puts it, even if it is absolutely worth trying. But the truth is that the choice of ingredients reflects a desire to condense the best of Roman traditions and the inimitable flavors of its speciality pasta dishes into a single recipe. Pasta alla zozzona in fact combines the creamy and enveloping carbonara, the tasty amatriciana, the simple cacio e pepe and the ancient gricia, with the addition of sausage.

The result is an enjoyable and cheerful dish that is an invitation to conviviality – especially when paired with a glass of Castelli wine – a dish that is is “dirty” enough to satisfy any taste buds: “zozzo” means “dirty” in Italian and Romans use the word to refer to something rich, fatty, and full of calories, decidedly un-minimal. But its merits do not end there: despite the many components of the sauce, it is a poor recipe, created to use up all the leftovers, in a fair and responsible anti-waste perspective.

The recipe 
Ingredients - Serves 4
- 400 g rigatoni 
- 200 g guanciale
- 2 fresh pork sausages
- 400 g fresh or canned tomatoes
- 4 egg yolks 
- 200 g seasoned pecorino cheese, grated
- salt, pepper
- bread, to mop up the last of the sauce on your plat (the “scarpetta”)
Bring the water for the pasta to the boil. In the meantime, dice the guanciale and brown it over a low heat in an earthenware pan. Skim off the first fat that melts and add the sausages, chopped and cased, to the pan. Then add the tomatoes or sauce, salt the sauce and cook it for about ten minutes. Separately, beat the egg yolks with half of the pecorino cheese, pepper and the dissolved fat of the guanciale until you get a sort of cream. Boil the pasta, drain it al dente and transfer it to the pan with the sauce. Off the heat, add the egg yolk cream, stirring in a little cooking water from the rigatoni if necessary. Finish the preparation with more pecorino cheese and ground pepper.

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