This post is about a year late (sorry). Ever since our trip to Italy last summer I have been wanting to make the perfect carbonara at home. I had it once in Rome, at a little restaurant that really catered more to tourists than it did to actual Romans I think, but it was still perfection (no matter where we ate, I never had a bad pasta dish in Rome). I’ve made carbonara plenty of times in the past 15 months, but it took me a while to find the right recipe, and then longer to perfect it to how I liked it (and make the portion perfect for the two of us, since it’s hard to split a recipe in half that calls for 5 eggs). And then I was terrible about writing down what I had done in the kitchen (how many eggs? how much bacon?), and so just now, in the past month, have I finally felt like I’ve been making a consistent carbonara in my kitchen.
My only real complaint is that I have to make this with bacon instead of guanciale. I know. That makes me sound like a food snob, and I’m sorry. But I’ve had dreams, like literal in the middle of the night dreams, of finding guanciale at my local grocery store and I cannot even tell you how disappointed I am when I wake up from that.
I saw some pork cheek at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago, and I’m seriously considering making some guanciale at home. (I’ll let you know how that goes if I make that decision, although I’m not sure how I’d be able to squeeze that in to life right now).
But even with just plain old bacon, this is delicious. And I was surprised at how easy carbonara was to make. It really only takes about half an hour, which is within my time-limit for dinners right now, so it has become one of our regular quick weeknight pasta dishes.
And because I need to be reminded, and I think you could perhaps use this, too, here are a few more of our favorite quick pasta dishes:
– mushroom marsala pasta
– pasta with sausage and tuscan beans
– roasted red pepper pasta
– spaghetti with garlic and olive oil
This is the closest I've found to what we actually ate in Italy. And while pasta alla carbonara sounds like a fancy thing, it's actually easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner. A lot of people think carbonara involves a lot of cream, but true carbonara is only thickened with eggs. The key here is to make sure you combine the pasta and the eggs while the pasta is still warm in order to cook your eggs just enough and create that creamy sauce.
- Olive oil
- 4 oz. bacon (about 4 slices), or pancetta or guanciale, diced
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- Kosher salt
- 8 oz. spaghetti or linguine
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 whole large egg
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a small saute pan and place the bacon in it. Set over medium heat and cook until the bacon is just beginning to brown but isn't too crispy. Add the garlic, cook for 1 more minute, and then remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, combine the egg yolks, egg, Parmesan cheese, and a good pinch (according to your tastes) of black pepper. Whisk together. Then stir in the bacon (you can use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the rendered fat if the amount of fat is excessive, but be sure to include a decent amount of the fat in the egg mixture for flavor).
- When the pasta is done, use a ladle to remove about 1 cup of the pasta water and set it aside. Then drain the pasta. Place the pasta in a large bowl and immediately add the egg mixture (it's important to do this while the pasta is still hot). Stir together.
- Add a bit of the reserved pasta water if necessary to give the pasta a better sauce-like consistency. Top with extra Parmesan cheese and serve warm.
adapted from Under the Tuscan Gun