Pasta alla Zozzona

Zozzona means “dirty” pasta and is the name of this dish, which originates from Lazio, the region around the city of Rome. In a sumptuous way, it combines the classic Roman pasta dishes

  • Cacio e pepe: With Pecorino Romano and black pepper
  • Gricia: With additional guanciale, an air-dried bacon from the pork cheek
  • Amatriciana: With additional tomatoes
  • Carbonara: Without tomatoes, but with added egg yolk

Madame Chilipepper has created a very instructive infographic on this subject:

The “dirty pasta” also contains salsiccia, a coarse Italian raw sausage, as well as the tomatoes of Amatriciana and the egg yolk of Carbonara.

It is decadently delicious.

Guanciale (which is not available everywhere, otherwise you can use another type of bacon) is cut into pieces of a convenient size. In Italy, they are usually quite large. Salsicce is sliced lengthways and the sausage meat is scraped off the skin with the back of a knife, after which it is shaped into pieces also of a convenient size. Egg yolks are separated from the egg whites and Pecorino Romano is very finely grated.

Depending on how fatty the bacon is, you may only need a very small amount of olive oil. Use this to fry the bacon and salsicce slowly over a medium heat in a large, high pan. A low heat with more time allows the fat from the bacon to render better and makes it more palatable. This will brown the meat in about 8 minutes, stirring only occasionally.

If you like it spicier, you can add finely crumbled dried peperoncino to the pan right at the start, as this is the best way to distribute the spiciness throughout the dish. If you do this, you should wash your hands very thoroughly straight away, otherwise the consequences can be extremely unpleasant.

Next, tomato passata is added, peeled tinned cherry tomatoes are a very nice variation. Stir once and simmer gently for a further 10 minutes with the lid on.

During this time, you can cook the pasta in well-salted water (as salty as the sea, is the rule of thumb). Rigatoni are the means of choice.

As always, you will find the quantities at the end of the recipe. Now mix egg yolk with half of the Pecorino Romano to form a paste, which is best done with a fork.

When the pasta is almost cooked, add 1 ½ tablespoons of the starchy pasta water for each egg yolk, slowly and in stages so that the egg is not overheated. Only one tablespoon at a time is stirred into the mixture, which slowly becomes more liquid.

Drain the cooked pasta and mix gently but thoroughly with the tomato sauce in the pan. Salt is no longer required, but a little ground black pepper can be added to taste. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting just to keep the pasta warm.

Then add the egg and cheese mixture and the rest of the pecorino.

Now all that remains is to mix it all together carefully. The residual heat is enough to turn all of this into a delicious sauce.



And may the taste be with you.

Ingredients (for 2 people):

As you would make it in Italy:

A little olive oil

200 g Guanciale (alternatively another bacon)

250 g Salsiccia

100 g Pecorino Romano (half for the sauce)

350 g Passata di Pomodoro (alternatively tinned peeled cherry tomatoes)

160 g Rigatoni (dry weight)

2 egg yolks

Optional: 1 chilli pepper, crumbled

Optional: black pepper from the mill

With less meat:

As above, but

150 g bacon

200 g Salsiccia

200 g Rigatoni

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