Being a big fan of spaghetti alla carbonara I'm delighted to share with you my favourite recipe. Try it and you won't go wrong.
120 grams of spaghetti
1 whole egg and one egg yolk
30 grams of guanciale
1 clove of garlic
dry white wine
3 tablespoons of the water in which you coocked your pasta
plenty of pecorino romano and parmigiano reggiano
freshly ground black pepper and salt
Mix one egg, one egg yolk, little bit of percorino and parmigiano in a bowl. Add some black pepper and a little bit of salt.
Put your spaghetti in the plenty of salted water (until it cooks to al dente. Normally you will have it al dente if you cook it 1 minute/1 and 1/2 minutes less the cookcing time indicated on the box).
In the meantime fry the guanicale (cut into little pieces) on a large pen using a bit (do not use much because guanciale has its own fat) olove oil. Once the gianciale becomes semi-crispy, add some garlic and black pepper (unless the guanicale is already seasones with a black pepper), mix using a wooden spoon. Put one spoon of pasta water into a frying pan, mix again and remove the garlic. Set the pan aside. When pasta has almost become al dente put the pan back on the stove and add a little bit of white wine. In the meantime take your past off the stove but before draining, save about 3 tablespoons of pasta water. Once alcohol has evaporated from the wine (this will take about 30 seconds) put your pasta into the frying pan and mix well (but gently) with a wooden spoon. Add more cheese and mix again. Set aside and add youe pasta water. After that add your egg and cheese mixture into the frying pen (remember! the pan is now off the heat!!) and mix again very gently. Your cabonara is now ready to serve. Put some cheese on a plate and then place your pasta on top of it, addign some more cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Funny you should ask. I made linguine carbonara for lunch today! The most critical thing is the cured pork, whether bacon, pancetta, or whatever. I recently found some really good old fashioned sugar cured thick hand sliced bacon (NO artificial flavors!) at one of my local farmer's markets, so today I thought... It's carbonara time! My method:
Put a large pot of water to boil. For three nice sized portions, I use a half pound of linguine. When water comes to rolling boil, toss in a small handful of kosher salt, fan the linguine in the pot, press to get it under water and stir. When it boils again, reduce heat to a light boil. When almost al dente, add a half cup of cold water and remove from heat. It will still be plenty hot when you're ready for it. Meanwhile:
Melt a tablespoon or so of butter with an equal amount of olive oil in a large skillet. Add half of a medium small onion, diced. Sweat the onion until transparent. Add a clove or two of crushed garlic and increase the heat to a bit more than medium. Slice three thick rashers of bacon into squares. Add to onion/garlic mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until bacon is all separated. Allow bacon to brown slowly, stirring as needed. Do not overcook the bacon.
Break three large eggs into a bowl. Stir/whip with a dinner fork until well mixed. Add about a half cup of cream or whole milk and whip again. Add a dash of salt, some oregano (fresh or dried to taste), some freshly grated pecorino cheese, and chopped parsley.
Assembly: When the bacon is lightly browned, drain and add the pasta, tossing and turning with tongs to blend the bacon with the pasta. I find when I try to add the bacon to the eggs and mix it in, the bacon never gets as well distributed as with this method.
When bacon is well blended, add the egg mixture and continue tossing and turning until pasta is well coated and egg is creamy. If you are concerned about underdone eggs and salmonella, Egg Beaters work just fine and they're pasteurized. The goal is a thick creamy egg sauce, not scrambled eggs! Sometimes it's a fine line. If serving family style, turn into a serving bowl and top with additional grated cheese and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
I serve mine with a "Caesary" salad of romaine and a boule of nice crusty bread.
For a package of spaghetti (the best quality you can find), cut about 4 oz of guanciale (and failing that, pancetta, pref the slab kind, not rolled) into little strips. Put the guanciale in a large frying pan and cook gently till quite a bit of fat has been rendered. You shouldn't make the pieces too crisp, but some people like them crisp. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon and keep them warm. Also keep the pan with the fat warm, but not too warm. Cook the spaghetti al dente. While the spaghetti is cooking, beat 3 eggs, or 2 eggs plus a yolk (some sticklers use only the yolks) with a handful of parmigiano and a handful of pecorino romano (sticklers use only pecorino) and some freshly ground black pepper.
Drain the pasta, not too dry, and reserve some of its water. Add the spaghetti to the fat in the frying pan and toss over very low heat till the spaghetti is coated. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly toss in the eggs and mix thoroughly. Toss in the reserved guanciale pieces. Serve immediately if not sooner, with extra cheese at the table. If at any time in the preparation, you feel you need liquid, add a bit of the pasta water. If you have too much liquid or the eggs are too runny, add more grated cheese. The spaghetti should be quite warm when you add the eggs, but off the heat so they don't scramble.
The thing about cream is it makes the eggs easier to handle, so it's sort of for beginners. You can achieve the same effect, without looking like a newbie, by using pasta water. But the pasta water trick only works if you use good pasta.
You can also skip the eggs altogether and just use guanciale and pecorino to make spaghetti alla gricia, which is wonderful.
Yes, this is it. I finally got a hold of some guanciale and did followed this technique, and came pretty close to duplicating the carbonara I had in Rome, that I'd been dreaming about for months. It was the guanciale that did it; had been using thick-sliced bacon before, with disappointing results. Also, lots of black pepper: more than you think you'll need. Oh, and I used good, fresh free-range eggs, with rich orange yolks, which I think also made a difference. It's all about the ingredients.
Here's Hazan's Carbonara recipe:
And if you do a search here you'll get plenty more info especially regarding NO cream - or a few people who say yes to cream. It's been discussed a lot lately. Hazen's is MY idea of perfection. And so incredibly easy.
re: c oliver
I totally agree with the Hazan suggestion....sometimes I add some of the pasta water to the egg yolk/cheese/pepper mixture. I also use the whole egg and sometimes I don't have both cheese and sometimes I don't have parsley. It's always delicious. oh, and vermouth works for the wine if you don't have any vino on hand.