Carbonara is a joyful dish that anyone can prepare. Sometimes, a simple combination of a few ingredients makes all the difference in the world. Pasta Carbonara is a classic Italian dish that comes from Rome. It is a simple, almost elemental, combination of cheese, bacon, and egg to create an unctuous sauce. The slightly intimidating reputation of this dish comes from the use of a raw egg. Don’t worry, the egg will end up cooked, but lots of people are not always comfortable with cracking an uncooked egg over their food.
Ingredients for 2
- 1/2lb Pasta, dried or freshly made. You want a noodle like fettucini or bucatini to really catch the sauce.
- 1/2lb Pancetta (Italian cured bacon) cut into lardons or large dice. Guanciale is the traditional choice, but it is easier to get good quality pancetta here. Thick cut bacon will do in a pinch.
- ½ Cup grated parmagiana or percorino cheese
- Plus a little more cheese for garnish
- 2 eggs beaten
- Black Pepper
- Parsley to garnish (Optional)
Step 0: Because this happens very quickly once you get going, it is imperative to have your mis-en-place ready before you get cooking. Measure and prep everything and place them in your cooking area for use. In this picture, you can see the pasta dough about to be rolled out for my fresh pasta.
Step 1: Get your water started for the pasta
Step 2: Over medium to medium-low heat cook the pancetta to render the fat and start to crisp the outside. Once most of your fat is rendered, drop the heat to low to keep it warm if your pasta is still cooking.
Step 3: Cook the pasta
Step 4: Take a ladle of pasta water just before it is done cooking and swirl it into the serving bowl to warm the bowl. Drain the pasta and toss with the pancetta.
Step 5: Empty the warmed serving bowl, cut the heat on the pasta and pancetta.
Step 6: Combine the remaining ingredients in the warmed serving bowl rapidly mixing the pasta around the egg mixture.
As you mix this around, the heat from the pasta and the rendered pancetta fat will cook the thin coating of eggs just a little bit so that your sauce has a custard or cream like consistency that coats each and every noodle with its joyful goodness.
Step 7: Crack freshly ground black pepper over the dish and add the remaining cheese and optional garnish of parsley.
Step 8: Eat IMMEDIATELY.
Because this recipe is so simple, it allows for interpretation and your own versions. You could add more flavor to the rendered fat by sautéing a garlic clove or onions in it while the pasta cooks. You could use white wine to add flavor to the pancetta or guanciale. Lots of people like peas in their carbonara or sauteed mushrooms. For my money, the simple Carbonara is the best way to go, though I never scoff at some garlic or onion additions. What is your favorite carbonara?
ETA – I’m still making it in 2018!