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spaghetti alla carbonara

w
whatsfordinner Apr 19, 2009 12:47 PM

I'm looking at three recipes for spaghetti alla carbonara. Mario Batali calls for 8 ounces guanciale or pancetta and 4 eggs per pound of pasta. Tyler Florence calls for 4 ounces of pancetta and 2 eggs per pound of pasta and Anne Burrell calls for 3/4 cup of pancetta and 8 eggs per pound of pasta. The variance in the amount of pancetta and eggs is really throwing me. How much do you use?

  1. w
    weezycom Apr 19, 2009 01:03 PM

    Based on a friend's recommendation, I switched to only using egg yolks in my carbonara, no whites, so my measurements are going to be quite a bit different due to the volume change. For a full pound of pasta, I would probably use 6-8 yolks and about 6-8 ounces of pancetta (or closest to Battali's recipe) That's a lot of pasta to coat.

    1. billieboy Apr 19, 2009 01:03 PM

      I suspect it's all a matter of taste but when it comes to Italian food, of those three, I would pick Batali's choice.
      Try it and see.

      1. mcsheridan Apr 19, 2009 01:08 PM

        I cook for one and Mario Batali's ratio works for me; it's what I regularly use. Seems to me that with his background in Italy, he'd also have the inside scoop on carbonara. :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: mcsheridan
          u
          umbushi plum Apr 19, 2009 02:16 PM

          i agree the batali ratio is the one thats closest to my personal preferance

        2. c oliver Apr 19, 2009 01:11 PM

          I'll muddy the water further and give the link for Hazan's carbonara which many here think (me too) is the best:

          http://fooddownunder.com/cgi-bin/reci...

          Just make sure you add any cream (or at least don't confess to it) or people will get upset :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: c oliver
            w
            whatsfordinner Apr 19, 2009 01:56 PM

            Thanks everyone! 8 eggs clearly seems to be too much. I think I'll use 3 or 4 eggs and six ounces of pancetta. Definitely no cream!

          2. Karl S Apr 19, 2009 02:16 PM

            I use only egg yolks, and vary my proportions.

            The Silver Spoon, another Italian reference resource, gives the following:

            2T butter
            heaping 1/2 cup pancetta, diced
            1 garlic clove
            12 oz spaghetti
            2 eggs, beaten
            1/2 cup each Parmigiano & Romano cheeses
            Salt & pepper

            Cooks Illustrated Issue 52 has the following ingredients for one pound of spaghetti:

            1/4 cup EVOO
            1/2 lb bacon
            1/2 cup dry wine
            3 large eggs
            3/4 cup Parmigiano
            1/4 cup Romano
            3 garlic cloves
            Salt & Pepper

            1. jfood Apr 19, 2009 02:23 PM

              this may be heresy to some, but jfood does like heavy cream in his carbonara. a couple of eggs, whipped up with some cream and trhen add the cheese. Cook about 1/3 pound of pasta. When done throw the pasta into the pan with the pancetta or bacon (not a fan of guanciale in carbonara) and add the sauce with some fresh pepper. Variations include a couple of shallots with the bacon which jfood prefers as well.

              20 Replies
              1. re: jfood
                mcsheridan Apr 19, 2009 03:57 PM

                I'll agree it's heresy, but it'll be damned tasty as well. :)

                1. re: mcsheridan
                  c oliver Apr 19, 2009 04:08 PM

                  Would that be Alfredo with pancetta in it then???

                  1. re: c oliver
                    mcsheridan Apr 19, 2009 04:16 PM

                    That'd be what I'd call it. If I'm going to eat Carbonara, I want that silky egg mouthfeel with the smoky pork taste behind it..if I'm eating a cream sauce, it ain't Carbonara, AFAIC.

                    All that said, I'm thinking of an as yet unnamed dish that puts the base of carbonara together with shallots, mushrooms, peas, slivered bell peppers, and maybe cream. All this talk of what does and doesn't go where leads me to put it all in one place.

                    Maybe next weekend.

                    1. re: mcsheridan
                      jfood Apr 19, 2009 04:35 PM

                      it is FAR from an alfredo. jfood uses 2 eggs and a Tablespoon of cream. It adds a liitle creaminess to the silkiness.

                      Jfood agrees that traditionally Carbonara did not contain any cream, but it is a very nice and small change.

                      1. re: jfood
                        alwayscooking Apr 19, 2009 04:58 PM

                        Please tell jfood that he is forgiven for his culinary sins
                        and may we all transgress so well

                        1. re: jfood
                          c oliver Apr 19, 2009 05:02 PM

                          A tablespoon? Still carbonara. Did you see Chow had/has something about carbonara with peas?

                          1. re: c oliver
                            w
                            whatsfordinner Apr 20, 2009 08:17 AM

                            Actually, peas might be a good idea.
                            Here's what I did. I rendered 6 oz of pancetta (cut in 1/4-inch cubes) in some olive oil. I added the cooked pasta (al dente) and let it absorb the sauce (well, the fat) for about a minute. Then I turned off the heat and added 4 eggs, 1 cup of parm and pepper. I added some of the pasta cooking water to loosen it a bit. It was easy and delicous. The stuffed artichokes on the other hand not so much! Too much work and a soggy stuffing, which I attribute to too much water in the pot.

                            1. re: whatsfordinner
                              MMRuth Apr 20, 2009 08:46 AM

                              I've made it with peas from a Suzanne Goin recipe and enjoyed that version. I usually make Hazan's recipe.

                              1. re: MMRuth
                                Gio Apr 20, 2009 10:38 AM

                                I made It Friday night with peas - and - asparagus. It was beyond good.
                                But the Batali recipe is the one I like for authenticity. .

                                1. re: MMRuth
                                  p
                                  pcdarnell Apr 21, 2009 04:04 PM

                                  The Zuni cookbook calls for peas and a little ricotta, if I remember correctly. It is quite good.

                                2. re: whatsfordinner
                                  j
                                  jencounter Apr 20, 2009 10:13 AM

                                  I was thinking even those she (burrell) cooked on the show came out looking soggy and unappetizing - I kept thinking, "surely those go in the oven" but newp. The idea sounds delicious, but the cooking method really turned me off.

                                  1. re: jencounter
                                    w
                                    whatsfordinner Apr 20, 2009 12:48 PM

                                    Before serving, I put the artichokes under the broiler to crisp the stuffing up a bit. It helped only a little. The breadcrumb stuffing was really delicious before it was cooked. I may use the leftover crumbs on top of fish.

                                3. re: c oliver
                                  lucygoosey Apr 20, 2009 09:25 AM

                                  I always put peas in if we have them. It adds a little fresh sweet note that I love with the richness of the dish.

                                4. re: jfood
                                  a
                                  adamshoe Apr 19, 2009 05:08 PM

                                  If jfood is only using one lowly tbsp. of cream, and he's whipping it up with the eggs, he might as well call it butter and be done with it. I like my carb. w/out cream as I find it unctuous enough with the guanciale fat and the eggs, but how could 1 tbsp. of cream render your carbonara "in-authentic"?. It sounds good and I might have to deviate the next time I make a carbonara. Vive la creme! adam

                                  1. re: adamshoe
                                    jfood Apr 19, 2009 05:14 PM

                                    it is sorta a hedging strategy and portfolio all in one. Bacon fat, egg fat and you need the third musketeer, the cream.

                                    1. re: jfood
                                      p
                                      phantomdoc Apr 20, 2009 09:16 AM

                                      How about calling it Carbonara au Lait?

                                  2. re: jfood
                                    mcsheridan Apr 19, 2009 06:01 PM

                                    Ah...only a tablespoon! That hardly signifies as in the heretical area. :)

                                    1. re: jfood
                                      j
                                      jpc8015 Apr 19, 2009 10:00 PM

                                      In my house we use about that some ratio of cream in the egg mixture. I put a ton of fresh ground black pepper in mine too.

                                    2. re: mcsheridan
                                      roxlet Apr 20, 2009 05:12 AM

                                      I agree, mcsheridan & c oliver! Enjoy your pasta with eggs, pancetta and cream, but it's not carbonara no matter how little cream you use.

                                5. re: jfood
                                  kchurchill5 Apr 20, 2009 06:58 AM

                                  I agree jfood. I also like heavy cream but understand the differences. I use around 8 oz and 3 eggs usually and sometimes a little white wine, but not always. My variations come with what happens to be in the fridge. I do agree I like the cheese, shallots too at times.

                                  I guess I don't have a standard, bacon, pancetta, whatever is in the fridge.

                                  I'm not a recipe follower at all. I like to adapt a recipt or take the method and make it mine. I always like the surprise of what it will taste like. Sticking with many of the original ingredients I know the base is fine ... sometimes it is a bit better than other times, but always enjoyable. I like to try different variations which to me is always fun.

                                6. h
                                  hankstramm Apr 19, 2009 05:24 PM

                                  Didn't read every post, so hopefully I'm not repeating. Per pound of dry pasta, I use 3 yolks and 2-3 whole eggs. 4-8 oz of guanciale and about 4 tbls of butter. Comes out great everytime (I make my own guanciale, so it is tailored to this dish--some pancetta is saltier or less flavorful than other, so vary by that).

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: hankstramm
                                    b
                                    Brandon Nelson Apr 19, 2009 06:06 PM

                                    I have use the Batalli recipe in "Simple Italian Food" and received high praise. My wife spent some time as a student in Italy. She mentioned she hadn't had carbonara like that since Italy, and had missed it terribly.

                                    When rocking pasta dishes always differ to fat dudes with Italian surnames.

                                  2. s
                                    silverhawk Apr 20, 2009 04:32 AM

                                    i am glad to see that mrs hazen opens the door to subbing in good slab bacon. we can purchase very good bacon from heir loom pork breeders. at the same time, we can get only so-so italian pork products.

                                    oh--and another "yes" on cream. the history of carbonnara as a dish is contextually short so this hardly constitutes heresy.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: silverhawk
                                      mbfant Apr 20, 2009 06:51 AM

                                      Actually the history isn't that short. It belongs to the group of pastas native to the mountains of Lazio and Abruzzo that can be cooked outdoors with easily portable (hunk of cured pork) or easily obtainable (couple of fresh eggs) ingredients, and a tablespoon of cream is clearly an indoor luxury and so not what the Italians call philological. The pork products of the Apennines of central Italy are cured without smoking, so neither is bacon. And neither is parmigiano, though most people bend the rules to admit a combination of parmigiano and pecorino romano (which is the traditional cheese). A little pasta water would be the normal way to achieve the effect of cream. In any case, it is in the spirit of traditional Italian cooking to use the ingredients one has, and carbonara lends itself to variation. The only thing that isn't fair, i would say, is adding unusual ingredients and insisting it's still carbonara.

                                      1. re: mbfant
                                        MMRuth Apr 20, 2009 08:48 AM

                                        I'm going to try just using pecorino romano next time. I used to use only parmesan, as I wasn't a huge fan of the sharpness of pecorino romano, but now use some of each, and I think that the sharpness gives the dish an additional "kick", as does some white wine - I think the acidity balances out the dish nicely.

                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                          c oliver Apr 20, 2009 08:57 AM

                                          Do you mean the wine that's in the Hazan recipe? Or some more? I could eat just the pork, the "drippings" and the wine.

                                          1. re: c oliver
                                            MMRuth Apr 20, 2009 10:29 AM

                                            The wine in the recipe. It seems that a lot of recipes don't use wine.

                                            1. re: MMRuth
                                              c oliver Apr 20, 2009 11:08 AM

                                              I make that part of it early in the day and just reheat at the end. Doesn't seem to sacrifice anything.

                                        2. re: mbfant
                                          s
                                          silverhawk Apr 20, 2009 10:00 AM

                                          the history extends back to the mid 20thC--at least as told in many resource books. some of the red sauces go back about as far as the intro of tomatoes into italy, don't they? i like to think of carbonara as sharing with me an origin in the post wwii years.

                                      2. cassoulady Apr 20, 2009 10:14 AM

                                        I love a bit of snipped fresh chive on top of carbonara.

                                        1. a
                                          Analisas mom Apr 21, 2009 06:34 AM

                                          I love it with or with out peas, I prefer bacon over pancetta, I use Hazen's recipe with wine and shallots, I have always added a little cream as it seemed a little dry, she doesn't use as many eggs as Mario. Next time I make it which might be tonight I am going the yolk only route without cream. The most amazing thing I do with this dish is I use fresh pasta. Fresh pasta makes a world of difference in any pasta dish. I am also a fan or pecorino over Parm. My family love carbonara and we make it a lot it is always so good and soulful

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: Analisas mom
                                            Karl S Apr 21, 2009 06:46 AM

                                            The reason your dish seems dry is because you are using fresh pasta - carbonara was treatment designed for dried pasta, which is not quite as absorbant as fresh pasta. Your fresh pasta is soaking up more liquid than dry pasta would. So you need to use more liquid - the pasta cooking liquid is the more classic remedy than cream. If you use only yolks, you will run less risk of curdling (egg whites curdle more quickly than the yolks).

                                            1. re: Karl S
                                              a
                                              Analisas mom Apr 21, 2009 07:02 AM

                                              That makes perfect sense. Thank you

                                              1. re: Karl S
                                                kchurchill5 Apr 21, 2009 07:03 AM

                                                When I use cream also I usually warm lightly (I admit, just in the micro on low and add the eggs with it), just enough so when added to the pasta it doesn't cook or curdle. Something I do to prevent it. One night while not paying attention added them and had scrambled eggs. Had too many things going on and just didn't think. So I just that in the micro and never had a problem.

                                                And yes Karl, fresh ... needs way more liquid. I prefer dry.

                                                1. re: kchurchill5
                                                  Karl S Apr 21, 2009 07:53 AM

                                                  Tempering the eggs with pasta cooking water is quite easy - I do it teaspoon by teaspooon while the pasta is cooking (the fact that dried pasta takes longer is a virtue here).

                                                  1. re: Karl S
                                                    c oliver Apr 21, 2009 08:40 AM

                                                    I add the pasta to the egg/cheese combo rather than the other way around and cooking/curdling hasn't been a problem; perhaps the hot pot that the pasta has cooked in is a problem sometimes? And then the bacon mixture goes on/in last.

                                                    1. re: c oliver
                                                      w
                                                      whatsfordinner Apr 21, 2009 12:57 PM

                                                      I whisked the egg and cheese together in a bowl. I added the pasta to the pan with the pancetta, mixed it around a bit and turned off the heat. Then I added the egg and cheese mixture to the pan, along with some chopped parsley and a little of the pasta water to loosen the sauce. It worked out well - there wasn't any curdling.

                                                    2. re: Karl S
                                                      kchurchill5 Apr 21, 2009 09:12 AM

                                                      Yep, I have used the water too. But when I add the cream I just heat for a few seconds. Same result. Works great. I had to laugh at myself the one time ... scrambled. Taught me not to try to hold 3 conversations, cook and drink wine at the same time, lol

                                              2. f
                                                FigNinja Apr 21, 2009 04:29 PM

                                                I use two eggs and 8oz of pancetta. I think I got that from Mark Bittman.

                                                1. iL Divo May 2, 2010 02:15 PM

                                                  oh I'm gonna enjoy this thread.
                                                  have read many posts or threads on here just now regarding this delicious treat.
                                                  now on to reading the 48 responses, I'm sure by the time I'm done there'll be 49 :)

                                                  oh yea, loved reading this.
                                                  I concur with the addition of even 2 T of butter.
                                                  to me, the richness, albeit an artery clogger, is worth it for flavor since I may eat this only once a year at most. also, I don't want to muck it up using the shrooms/bell peppers/shallots ets, but must agree I love it made with cream and without cream, either way, my tastebuds are happy and but not very discriminating.

                                                  as much as I think MB is genius when it comes to cooking Italian and his obvious knowledge behind his way of doing things, I'm not impressed with TF at all, sorry, and agree about the too many times I've watched AB on her tv show, not impressed. I'd stick with MB simply because he knows his stuff, as does his dad at Salumi's in Seattle, what great meat there.

                                                  Agree with Lucygoosey about the peas, to me, when I've made it before, peas are just a part of carbonara.
                                                  Jfood, I love the 3rd musketeer analogy :)
                                                  Kchurchill, me too, love reading recipes but also love to deviate.
                                                  mbFant, I liked reading your text.
                                                  phantomdoc, love the new name you rendered.

                                                  Ok, it's on. tonight this is dinner with other stuff like on the grill salmon sitting in olive oil lemon juice salt and pepper and salad with everything, garlic bread of course, and dessert of who knows what................

                                                  I'll post when the meal is done

                                                  1. l
                                                    lidia May 2, 2010 04:04 PM

                                                    mbfant is right on here.

                                                    If you want to think "authentic/rustic Italian", start thinking "no refrigeration". Eggs here are almost always stored and sold at room temp. Cheese can stay at room temp. Cured meat can stay at room temp, as can vegetables.

                                                    If I shopped like most Italian ladies used to (going out every day for what is needed), I could easily get by w/o a refrigerator. My MIL stores leftovers in the oven; no one has died or gotten sick yet.

                                                    Mario's recipe sounds fine. What I do, usually, is go with half whole eggs and half yolks, for a medium richness: for two people I use one egg and one yolk. I don't measure the cheese, but grate it directly into the beaten egg, mixing until it has the consistency of cake batter.

                                                    What NOT to include: cream, garlic (blech), wine (double blech), vegetables other than (possibly) onion, but even that borders on heresy. What you CAN include is a splash of vinegar as you are sauteing the pancetta; this is supposed to "cut" the grease and make it brown more nicely. I have this on authority of a Tuscan/Roman friend of ours.

                                                    All the recipes noted seem to add a good deal of extra oil. I add only a drizzle if any. You should wait and see how much fat renders out of your pancetta/guanciale.

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: lidia
                                                      MMRuth May 2, 2010 04:30 PM

                                                      I'm just curious - why not the wine? I've come to like the bit of acidity that it adds. Thanks.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                        c oliver May 2, 2010 04:53 PM

                                                        And I really like browning and then removing the garlic cloves from the oil.

                                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                                          amokscience May 2, 2010 07:49 PM

                                                          Add what tastes good to you.

                                                          For me the biggest improvement in carbonara flavor was using guanciale. Extreme pork flavor in tiny portions. Now if it was only easier to obtain.

                                                          1. re: amokscience
                                                            w
                                                            Whats_For_Dinner May 2, 2010 09:08 PM

                                                            Or cheaper!
                                                            I've still never bought it, because every time I see it for sale I'm floored that they can charge $100/kg for what most people consider a throwaway part of the animal.

                                                            My kingdom for a nice cool basement to cure meats in...

                                                            1. re: Whats_For_Dinner
                                                              Zeldog May 7, 2010 05:42 PM

                                                              WFD, you don't need a cool basement to make guanciale. The drying time is short, compared to prosciutto or salami, and if the temperature is relatively cool (75F or less) you can just hang it in the kitchen. I haven't tried it, but I've read you can even dry it on a rack in the fridge. The only hard part is finding the pig jowls.

                                                          2. re: MMRuth
                                                            l
                                                            lidia May 3, 2010 07:49 AM

                                                            It just doesn't "go".. I can't explain why! :-)
                                                            It's a free country so make whatever pleases you, but "carbonara" doesn't have cream, wine, garlic or peas. A dish with cream, wine, garlic and peas is some other dish.

                                                            1. re: lidia
                                                              c oliver May 3, 2010 08:01 AM

                                                              Don't tell Marcella Hazan that! She will tell you that wine and garlic certainly are ingredients in carbonara. She might even yell at you :)

                                                              1. re: c oliver
                                                                l
                                                                lidia May 5, 2010 02:39 AM

                                                                I'll have my Roman husband yell back at her. ;-)
                                                                Marcella is great, but she's just not a Laziale.

                                                                1. re: lidia
                                                                  roxlet May 5, 2010 03:32 AM

                                                                  Gotta agree with you, lidia. I would say that I made a pasta like a carbonara with some changes rather than saying I made carbonara. I saw an episode of Giada's show where she was cooking matriciana with her Italian aunt. They made a lovely pasta dish, and then Giada told her aunt to put meatballs in with it. The aunt recoiled in horror; it was pretty funny. She said, "No, if you do that, it's not matriciana." Italian food is pretty adaptable and you can make anything you like, and that's fun to do and fun to experiment, but I'm in the camp that believes that there are certain basics that establish a vocabulary -- carbonara is a dish that doesn't have cream, and matriciana is not matriciana with meatballs. Both iterations can be fabulous, but call them something else!

                                                              2. re: lidia
                                                                paulj May 3, 2010 09:24 AM

                                                                As pointed out in the article I linked on May 2, producing the right creaminess with just the egg and cheese requires some finesse. Adding cream makes the procedure more forgiving. This is plus in a restaurant where the cooks having varying skills, and the time between preparation and serving is unpredictable.

                                                                Older editions of Joy of Cooking have a 'Pasta with egg and cheese'. That fries the bacon, and then adds some wine, and reduces it till evaporated. The cheese is mixed Parmesan and Romano. I used that as my guide long before I heard the name 'carbonara'. Often I'd include some garlic or shallot in the wine phase, and use what ever bacon or ham I had on hand.

                                                                The only time I have bought cured port jowl was on a camping trip on Vancouver Island. While locally made (Port Alberni) it probably was inspired by a product common on the Atlantic coast (not Italy).

                                                          3. paulj May 2, 2010 08:54 PM

                                                            Here's a recent newspaper article on this dish (originally in the Houston Chronicle)

                                                            http://www.seattlepi.com/food/419191_...

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                              b
                                                              bear May 3, 2010 08:33 AM

                                                              Fun article, paulj. Thanks for the post.

                                                            2. iL Divo May 2, 2010 11:23 PM

                                                              I said I'd post and the kids are gone now and hubby's in bed so it's time.
                                                              Dinner all together was perfect.
                                                              A little slow, with body part that ache, it was a mishmosh of how to do it quickly by the time they got home, but it all worked out.
                                                              For the carbonara, 3/4 lb pasta, 4 oz. applewood peppered bacon, 2 jumbo eggs, 1T butter, 2T heavy cream, 1/2 cup snow peas out of their shell, in total 1/2 cup of combined cheese, the pecorino parm and romano, pasta water to thin sauce.
                                                              Perfect, maybe not what some would call true carbonara, but no matter to me as it's subjective anyway, it was perfect.

                                                              1. cosmopolita May 5, 2010 04:59 AM

                                                                I'm from Rome, the city of carbonara, and I can assure you that there are few ingrendients in real carbonara:
                                                                pasta (preferably "rigatoni")
                                                                "guanciale" (pork jowl) or pancetta (bacon)
                                                                pepper in abundance
                                                                olive oil
                                                                eggs.

                                                                Anything else

                                                                11 Replies
                                                                1. re: cosmopolita
                                                                  jfood May 5, 2010 05:45 AM

                                                                  C

                                                                  How about some cheese? Which if yes?

                                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                                    cosmopolita May 6, 2010 12:01 AM

                                                                    Sorry! I forgot cheese, but only Pecorino Romano, no parmigiano.

                                                                    This because my English is terrible :)

                                                                  2. re: cosmopolita
                                                                    iL Divo May 5, 2010 06:10 AM

                                                                    then I'm gonna tend to believe you.
                                                                    I'll restate my point, call if what you want, eat it how you want, include the ingredients you like, but bottom line here is it's delicious :)
                                                                    I'm envious where you're from cosmopolita............
                                                                    oh to sit in Rome and enjoy the beauty and fragrances coming from everywhere, you're very fortunate.............
                                                                    just to say I made it correctly, in a few days for hubby and myself, I'll make it your way, rigatoni, ok, rigatoni it'll be.......................thanks for sharing.........

                                                                    1. re: iL Divo
                                                                      l
                                                                      lidia May 5, 2010 05:40 PM

                                                                      Yes, for some reason the accepted pasta forms for carbonara are either rigatoni/tortiglioni or spaghetti, a relatively unusual situation because Italians seem to have a fairly stringent idea of what pasta form factor "goes" with what sauce, usually within narrow limits).

                                                                      My husband would grumble seriously at a carbonara served with penne, fusilli, or bucatini but spaghetti or rigatoni is ok. Go figure.

                                                                      Cheese = pecorino romano or pecorino romano + parmigiano

                                                                      1. re: iL Divo
                                                                        cosmopolita May 6, 2010 12:07 AM

                                                                        Rome is a fantastic city, full of history. Unfortunately we tend to forget the beauty that is around us.

                                                                        1. re: cosmopolita
                                                                          m
                                                                          mt7187 May 6, 2010 02:53 PM

                                                                          Cosmopolita, what would you say is a better substitute for guanciale? good quality pancetta, or good quality slab bacon? A man from Abruzzo who I met recently told me he mixes half pancetta with half hot coppa when making an Amatriciana. Thanks.

                                                                          1. re: mt7187
                                                                            cosmopolita May 6, 2010 11:32 PM

                                                                            You have already read this article?
                                                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanciale

                                                                            Sometimes we substitute the "guanciale" with the bacon (no smoked) but I do not know if in the United States you have the same our products...

                                                                            1. re: cosmopolita
                                                                              Karl S May 7, 2010 06:31 AM

                                                                              In the US, "bacon" is almost always smoked (hickory by far the most common wood used, apple or other fruitwoods a distant second), very unlike Italian bacon, which is simply cured.

                                                                      2. re: cosmopolita
                                                                        mariacarmen Nov 11, 2010 08:17 AM

                                                                        Cosmopolita: that is exactly how i had it made for me in the Piemonte region, at a private home. nothing more, nothing less.

                                                                        However, the same cook at another dinner made me pesto with BUTTER instead of olive oil. it was delicious, but i'm just saying.

                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                          Karl S Nov 11, 2010 09:06 AM

                                                                          Pesto can include butter in certain parts of Italy, especially those areas with dairy cattle. Like Piemonte.

                                                                          1. re: Karl S
                                                                            mariacarmen Nov 11, 2010 06:24 PM

                                                                            Really! good to know.... i thought she was just improvising, which struck me as odd, because most the Italians we met in 5 months there were adamant about how a particular dish is SUPPOSED TO BE.

                                                                      3. iL Divo May 20, 2010 02:40 PM

                                                                        Tonights dinner this prized faire

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: iL Divo
                                                                          amokscience May 21, 2010 09:31 AM

                                                                          I made this last week using 'authentic' ingredients (guanciale, pecorino romano, egg yolks, freshly cracked black pepper) and I tried rigatoni instead of one of the usual noodles. I'm always surprised at how big a difference the type of pasta has on the dish. Everything can change from how the ingredients coat the noodles, how much food fits onto a fork, how you put the food into your mouth, etc. It was great but I think I prefer spaghetti for ease of consumption.

                                                                          I recommend something fresh and crisp to cut through the fat afterwards.

                                                                          1. re: amokscience
                                                                            iL Divo May 21, 2010 07:58 PM

                                                                            I prefer that kind too. It's my favorite pasta because of loving spaghetti so much.

                                                                        2. g
                                                                          Georgy_aslf May 24, 2010 06:11 AM

                                                                          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.

                                                                          Ingredients:

                                                                          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.

                                                                          1. paulj May 24, 2010 07:49 AM

                                                                            Anyone notice the cauliflower 'carbonara' that Iron Chef Michael Symon made last night? He served with the raw egg yolk on top, to be stirred in by the diner (Mario Batali also does style).

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                                              d
                                                                              dar_hud May 24, 2010 09:52 AM

                                                                              YES! The Iron Chef TV Show last night is the reason I am frantically searching for the Carbonara recipe. I have sound several hopefuls and will try this tonight! If I remember I will come back here tomorrow and let you know how it goes.

                                                                            2. iL Divo May 25, 2010 11:35 AM

                                                                              Every time I read these posts I read the {foreign to me} "pig" word as Guayaquil, in Ecuador. Really every time then I have to remember it's that pork product. Funny to me

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: iL Divo
                                                                                paulj May 25, 2010 12:09 PM

                                                                                I assume you are referring to 'guanciale'

                                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                                  iL Divo May 25, 2010 06:20 PM

                                                                                  pauli, and you assume correctly.........

                                                                              2. b
                                                                                becqui926 Oct 26, 2010 10:12 PM

                                                                                I'm going to go full-on heretical and admit that I like the Rachael Ray version. I'm putting my raincoat on and waiting for the hail of rotten tomatoes now...

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: becqui926
                                                                                  MMRuth Oct 27, 2010 03:47 AM

                                                                                  What are the ingredients?

                                                                                  1. re: becqui926
                                                                                    iL Divo Nov 11, 2010 07:01 PM

                                                                                    " I'm putting my raincoat on and waiting for the hail of rotten tomatoes now.."

                                                                                    why? It's not September......;()

                                                                                  2. d
                                                                                    DukeOfSuffolk Nov 11, 2010 07:46 AM

                                                                                    ...are you really going to argue with batali? go with batali's ratio. Tyler Florence is cool but not that cool!

                                                                                    also the first word in Rachael Ray's version is Bacon., but she does say panchetta in the recipe. Her recipe seems fine so I won't throw anything at becqui except for some love - and maybe a set of cute boots to help with the tomato storm

                                                                                    1. ZenSojourner Nov 11, 2010 08:45 PM

                                                                                      Wow! This thread REALLY sent me down a rabbit hole!

                                                                                      I like Lidia! She uses 2 yolks per pound of pasta:

                                                                                      http://www.ochef.com/r69.htm

                                                                                      I like Lidia! She says to retain the bacon grease in the dish so you can get the full benefit of it's "pronounced flavor"!

                                                                                      Did I mention that I like Lidia? (She's actually the only TV chef I can stand to watch these days

                                                                                      )

                                                                                      And if you like a bit of cream, this one sounds pretty good too:

                                                                                      http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nigella-lawson/spaghetti-alla-carbonara-recipe/index.html

                                                                                      And if you're a "simple-ist" (won't say a purist for reasons to be revealed) try this:

                                                                                      http://www.tommyeats.com/tommyeats/2006/08/carbonara.html

                                                                                      The article someone referred to here is kind of funny for how self-contradictory it is. At one point in the article, they say:

                                                                                      "A more likely provenance originates in Rome, sometime after 1945, when American troops residing in Italy after the Second World War combined their rations of bacon and eggs with the pasta and cheese dishes traditionally served there."

                                                                                      Then later they complain about people using "inauthentic" ingredients, decrying the use of pancetta instead of guanciale, or any cheese other than (specifically) Pecorino Romano

                                                                                      C'mon! If the origins of this dish are Americans adding their ration of bacon and eggs to locally obtained pasta and cheese, how did we get to the requirement that only cured meats specific to Italy and largely unavailable in the US are the "right" ingredients? I doubt the GIs were running around demanding ONLY Pecorino Romano cheese to be used in this dish, either! LOL!

                                                                                      If you want to be authentic it seems US style bacon and government issue eggs are the way to go!

                                                                                      This site debunks ALL the mythical origins of pasta carbonara:

                                                                                      http://www.itchefs-gvci.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=189&Itemid=824

                                                                                      Here's another recipe that sounds good, with a little bit of discussion about origins and "authenticity":

                                                                                      http://www.lifeinitaly.com/food/spaghetti-alla-carbonara

                                                                                      Basically nobody knows where it came from or why it's called what it's called. (Maybe for the smoky flavor of US-style bacon?

                                                                                      )

                                                                                      This reference aroused my curiosity even more (funny how asking a question invariably leads to lots more questions):

                                                                                      http://books.google.com/books?id=D5nX...

                                                                                      Click on P 202. On p 202 and 203, it talks about a dish called Pencarelli or pincarelle. This dish sounds very like pasta alla carbonara. I can't tell from what I can see of the book how "old" this dish is (when was it being made that way?) but I would guess it's been around awhile.

                                                                                      So why does it not get any credit? Take out the sausage, add pepper, and it sounds pretty much the same to me. Oh well!

                                                                                      All the recipes people have shared sound delicious. Especially given the kind of cloudy origins of this dish, I don't think "authenticity" needs to be an important factor. But that's just me. I say eat what tastes good to you.

                                                                                      Mange! Mange!

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: ZenSojourner
                                                                                        paulj Nov 11, 2010 10:09 PM

                                                                                        Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way, has a dish that reminds me of carbonara
                                                                                        http://www.kqed.org/w/morefastfoodmyw... (starting at 13 min
                                                                                        )Gnocchi with Eggs and Scallions
                                                                                        He prepares store bought gnocchi, and finishes them with chopped scallion, and barely cooked eggs. Cheese is just a garnish.

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