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Spaghetti Carbonara from April 2013 Cook's Illustrated?

kaleokahu Apr 9, 2013 08:54 AM

Anyone tried making this?

I did, last night, and what a disappointment. I used premium ingredients and followed the instructions to the letter. Yet it turned out short of egg and pork flavor, and the mouthfeel was thin and insipid. I used the minimum volume of pasta water (1/2C), and the whole mess was too watery, even after tossing and resting. Certainly not a "velvety consistency", and not even what I think of as a carbonara.

Apparently, the main effort here was the elimination of one extra egg yolk and some bacon fat from Jamie Oliver's recipe. I feel like this recipe came from Cooking Light rather than Cook's Illustrated.

What are othes' experience with this prep?

Aloha,
Kaleo

  1. e
    escondido123 Apr 9, 2013 09:17 AM

    I do not know the recipe but when you wrote "the whole mess was too watery" I wondered if you added all the water at once. Pasta varies a great deal, so I would add the water bit by bit until it was right. Did the recipe say to put it in all at once?

    27 Replies
    1. re: escondido123
      kaleokahu Apr 9, 2013 10:07 AM

      Hi, escondido:

      I slowly whisked it into the sauce (before pouring it onto the pasta) exactly as instructed, so yes, it called for it all at once.

      The rube is instructed to reserve 1C of pasta water, then add that 1/2C, plus more of the remaining 1/2 to "adjust consistency". So it got the minimum and was still awash. Kinda hard to adjust consistency before you see the sauce on the pasta.

      Interestingly, they do not even mention the old trick of pan-cooking the sauced dish for a short finish.

      Aloha,
      Kaleo

      1. re: kaleokahu
        c
        cleopatra999 Apr 9, 2013 11:28 AM

        I always make my carb in the pan, stirring in eggs, cheese and pasta water to desired consistency. making 'sauce' first is odd to me. The only thing is I break and mix eggs separately.
        This is a great video that I like to refer to from a chef in Rome
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATIU3...

        1. re: cleopatra999
          t
          thimes Apr 9, 2013 11:50 AM

          even watching that video, it isn't that far off from the recipe quoted, just some technique differences - though CI used a lot more egg which in theory should make it less watery. . . .

          In the video he added 6 ladles of pasta water while making his dish (that is at least 1/2 cup) - he only used 3 egg yolks to CI's 3 eggs plus a yolk - he didn't add too much cheese (of course hard to tell exactly from a vid) but it could have been about 2.5 oz.

          Technique wise - mixing the cheese and eggs and then tempering that with the hot water before mixing it into the noodles isn't radically different from tossing it all in the pan.

          I don't have my CI with me right now (I know - shocking - haha) but so do they have you just mix it in the bowl and let it rest or do you add it all back into the sauce pan you boiled the pasta in or into the fry pan that you cooked the bacon/pancetta in?

          Silly question possibly but were you using spaghetti? Did you drain the spaghetti or lift it out of the boiling water and into the fry pan? The latter way always "holds" more water than draining I find so maybe you added a lot more than you thought (if you did that) . . . .just a thought of how it could have ended up watery . . . .

          1. re: thimes
            kaleokahu Apr 9, 2013 02:29 PM

            Hi, Thymes: "[D]o they have you just mix it in the bowl and let it rest or do you add it all back into the sauce pan you boiled the pasta in or into the fry pan that you cooked the bacon/pancetta in?"

            After blathering away 80% of the pagespace on matters unrelated to the recipe, they tell us to whisk up the sauce (all but the starchy pasta water) prior to even boiling the pasta.

            The author was enamored of draining the pasta water into the serving bowl (to heat it), then reserving the additive/tempering water, and then putting the pasta in the warmed bowl, then actually whisking the 1/2C of water into the pre-whisked sauce, before tossing and serving.

            In retrospect, the rapidly-cooling serving bowl was a poor substitute for pan-finishing the dish.

            I'm also not necessarily buying the author's science re: ovomucin. According to Harold McGee, there are only a dozen or so proteins in eggwhite (not 148 as the author claims).` And ovomucin accounts for less than 2% of what's there and is tha *last* albumen protein to coagulate, at >180F. Most thickening happens due to a different protein, ovotransferrin, which makes up 12% of the white and starts thickening at 140-150F.

            "[W]ere you using spaghetti? Did you drain the spaghetti or lift it out of the boiling water and into the fry pan?"

            I was using fettuccini, which was well-drained in a collander and then transferred to the warmed serving bowl, so there was no surfeit of water in the pasta.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            1. re: kaleokahu
              c
              cacio e pepe Apr 9, 2013 03:09 PM

              Yeah. *Definitely* a technique problem. Certainly, you can mix the egg and cheese together, before adding it to the pan, but you have to finish the pasta in the pan. If you bother to try the recipe again, try using the technique demonstrated in the hiroscioli video with the CI recipe. At least you can assess the recipe independent of the poor instructions.

              1. re: cacio e pepe
                c oliver Apr 10, 2013 04:56 PM

                Marcella Hazan doesn't finish it in the pan (see above recipe) and so neither do I. Perfect every time.

                1. re: c oliver
                  c
                  cacio e pepe Apr 11, 2013 06:53 AM

                  Fair enough. If it works for you then that's great. And following Hazan is never going to lead you far astray.

                  I don't use garlic, wine, or parsley in my carbonara because I'm always trying to recreate the carbonara I had years ago in a restaurant in Rome. I'm going for a very specific iteration of carbonara, but that may not be the one others want.

                  I toss in the pan because I can control the consistency of the sauce more precisely with the addition of small amounts of pasta water and I can toss better in a sauté pan than a big bowl. If you look in that hiroscioli video posted above, you'll notice that the flame is off and the chef is cooking with residual heat and hot pasta water. I think all that lends to greater control and prevents any coagulation of the egg. I find the results to be superior to tossing in a bowl. YMMV.

                  1. re: cacio e pepe
                    c oliver Apr 11, 2013 07:37 AM

                    I also have NEVER had to add any water.

                    1. re: c oliver
                      c
                      cacio e pepe Apr 11, 2013 03:07 PM

                      As long as YOU like it, great. I'm going for a very specific and traditional iteration.

                      1. re: cacio e pepe
                        c oliver Apr 11, 2013 03:35 PM

                        Sorry. This is in reference to OP. The version I've made dozens of times would never need any water and I think adding water routinely is not called for. I'm only trying to discuss his version by comparing it to what I make.

                        1. re: c oliver
                          f
                          foreverhungry Apr 11, 2013 04:21 PM

                          I believe that whether one adds pasta water or not is at least in part a function of how the pasta is treated/added to the sauce. If the pasta is drained, added pasta water helps to add moisture to the dish. If the pasta is scooped from the water pot into the sauce, there's enough water clinging to the pasta. I can't imagine a carbonara with the velvety texture without moisture in addition to that from the eggs.

                          1. re: foreverhungry
                            c oliver Apr 11, 2013 04:27 PM

                            Well, I've been draining the pasta and then adding it to the cheese and eggs, then adding the sauce/pork for some years now and have never needed any water. Don't forget the recipe I use get 3T oo, the fat from the pork and a 1/4c wine. I don't have to imagine it - I just eat it :)

                            1. re: c oliver
                              kaleokahu Apr 11, 2013 06:36 PM

                              Hi, c oliver:

                              You've said several times now that you never add water, yet I gather from your posts that you use wine a la Hazan. So you and Hazan are adding moisture, no?

                              The CI author espouses the view that the "starchy" water better stabilizes the sauce by virtue of: (a) coating the proteins in the eggs and cheese; and (b) combining with the ovomucin. I *do* think that my watery outcome was perhaps less curdly, gritty (and ultimately) glue-y, so maybe the theory works. All I know is that, as written, the 2013 CI recipe calls for too much minimum added moisture.

                              Interestingly, I made a second batch, the only difference being subbing a gluten-free quinoa pasta. The result was less watery, but still struck me as being from Cooking Light, rather than CI.

                              Aloha,
                              Kaleo

                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                c oliver Apr 11, 2013 06:49 PM

                                Yep. Next time you're in the mood, make another - any other version - and see what you think.

                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                  f
                                  foreverhungry Apr 12, 2013 06:20 AM

                                  I think what CI is trying to get at with this (and other) recipes is indeed reducing the fat content, but not necessarily for the same reasons as Cooking Light. Fat certainly plays a role in cooking. But some cooks/eateries use fat as a flavor enhancer to hide either flawed technique, bad recipes, or tasteless ingredients. I'd say the same thing about salt - salt is a necessary component of every recipe, yet the American diet has, on average, much too much salt.

                                  I won't say that this is just an American phenomenon, but perhaps our current food culture (speaking generally) rises above others when it comes to over-fatting and over-salting dishes.

                                  While many Italian pasta dishes contain fat, the levels found in many Italian cookbooks are much smaller than what some Americanzied recipes call for, with some adding butter and cream to many dishes. i've seen carbonara recipes calling for cream (!!!), and most American alfredo recipes are cream-bombs.

                                  I think a part of what CI is trying to do is coax maximum flavor out of a few, simple ingredients, using sounds techniques. This usually results in recipes that are more laborious and futzy, but may ultimately be closer to traditional techniques (though the origins of carbonara are fuzzy).

                                  1. re: foreverhungry
                                    kaleokahu Apr 12, 2013 10:02 AM

                                    Hi, forever:

                                    Well, whatever they were trying to do, the result was not close to the preps I've had in Rome.

                                    Re: fat and salt... I hate to say it, but I don't much care with carbonara. Obviously, if there's fat running out of the sauce or it tastes briny, there's too much. But otherwise it's a rare indulgence prep for me. Flavor, stability, texture and visual appeal matter more to me than minimizing fat and salt.

                                    Aloha,
                                    Kaleo

                                    1. re: kaleokahu
                                      c oliver Apr 12, 2013 10:59 AM

                                      Kaleo,

                                      Maybe CI/ATK having "bested" everything that needed "besting" are now they're trying to fix things that ain't broke :)

                                      1. re: c oliver
                                        kaleokahu Apr 12, 2013 01:19 PM

                                        Hi, c oliver:

                                        This is an excellent point. Their equipment reviews have always been stilted and shallow. Have you noticed how few pages there are lately? When all the subscription cards are torn out, there isn't much left of the mag.

                                        Aloha,
                                        Kaleo

                                        1. re: kaleokahu
                                          c oliver Apr 12, 2013 01:55 PM

                                          I stopped subscribing and buying their cookbooks a few (or more) years ago when it seemed like they were besting the same things over and over. I still refer to them but not much. The "Best of" ones when I can't find some kind of basic dish.

                                          1. re: c oliver
                                            f
                                            foreverhungry Apr 12, 2013 05:51 PM

                                            With all due respect, I still subscribe to CI. The old carbonara recipe I referenced earlier is still my go to, and it's the one I wooed my fiancee with years ago.

                                            Like all references, there are things they are solid on, and things they miss on. The old carbonara recipe is a hit for me, as are many other CI recipes.

                                            I won't try the new one only because the old CI one works great for me.

                                            In general, CI is in a unique place. They're thin on paged because they don't take ads. Cooking Light is 3/4 ads. Personally, I like CI because it's page after page of recipe, and zero ads. Are they all winners? No. Are all recipes in Saveur winners? No.

                                            1. re: foreverhungry
                                              kaleokahu Apr 12, 2013 08:11 PM

                                              Hi, forever:

                                              This is a good point. But the whole CI schtick is: "We have this figured out, we tried all these things, this is where others went wrong, and here is the *best* way to do it." Never seen Gourmet, Saveur or others make that implication of be-all-ends-all. Makes for a very loud thud when they fall...

                                              But on your rec, I'll try to find the old CI recipe. Is there a link that doesn't require one to subscribe?

                                              Aloha,
                                              Kaleo

                                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                                f
                                                foreverhungry Apr 12, 2013 10:22 PM

                                                The old CI recipe for carbonara requires a subsrciption. Personally, CI is one of the few that I subscribe to. I think it's worth it. YMMV.

                                                As for that particular carbonara recipe, it's the one that works great for me. I've tried others, including Hazan's, and this one I and my guests prefer. So I go with it. I'm not a fan of Hazan, I have have other recipe suppliers I go with.

                            2. re: c oliver
                              c
                              cacio e pepe Apr 11, 2013 05:29 PM

                              I think there is a difference between recipes and instructions. I'm certain it's an arbitrary distinction, but I think of recipes more as ingredients and amounts. Instructions are more like techniques. It seems to me that the thin, insipid sauce that the OP is talking about might actually be more about the technique that CI is detailing and not the ingredients.

                              And it's actually *really* routine to add pasta water to most pasta sauces as you finish the cooking of the pasta in a saute pan with the sauce, even carbonara. You're right that it is by no means universal.

                              I don't know if you normally use that procedure with other sauces, and just skip it for your carbonara. If it's something that you never do, I'd urge you to consider trying it. Apologies if I am explaining something you are already quite aware of, but just in case. . . The very al dente pasta will absorb the water and finish cooking. The sauce then thickens and sticks to the pasta even more. I find this method works really well and improves the consistency of my carbonara. Tossing in the pan aerates the sauce, too, and gives it a more luscious texture. Or at least it's what I'm looking for.

                              foreverhungry: I think that's a big part of it, though I don't drain and *still* add pasta water. I also think it's a matter of when the pasta is pulled out. If the pasta is already perfectly cooked, you cant really finish it with extra water in the sauce. If the pasta is pulled a bit shy of reaching the final doneness, then the extra water is used to finish the pasta and more is required.

                2. re: thimes
                  c
                  cacio e pepe Apr 9, 2013 03:03 PM

                  I think the culprit is that there is no finishing the pasta in the pan. That's a HUGE technique difference and could account for a watery sauce that doesn't really stick to the pasta.

                  I don't have access to the CI recipe, though, so I can't tell for sure.

              2. re: kaleokahu
                t
                thimes Apr 9, 2013 11:33 AM

                I saw the recipe but didn't try it. Glad to know that was a good thing.

                I was just going to ask about pan-cooking the sauced dish. With 1/2 cup of water I wonder if the egg never got hot enough to turn into the velvety sauce.

                I find that when I make carbonara I almost always have to pan-cook the sauce a little. I've seen recipes where they just toss the pasta and egg in the serving bowl and let it sit but I've never had success with that method, the egg never gets to the right velvet consistency I want.

                I've loved CI for a long time but I've recently made a few things from them that weren't as great as I've come to expect from them. Sad :(

                1. re: thimes
                  mbfant Apr 9, 2013 12:11 PM

                  You really should not apply heat after you add the eggs, but everything has to be warm or room temp. If you apply heat, you risk scrambling the eggs. Everybody really has to develop his own technique to suit his own equipment. Holding the pan above but not touching the stove is a good way, but for this you need either three hands or a strong wrist to "fare il salto" (sorry, I don't know how to say this in English -- I mean tossing the pasta in the pan with such a deft technique that the sauce mixes and coats the pasta without the aid of utensils).

                  Sounds as though there are no pieces of pork in the CI recipe. Is that possible?

                  1. re: thimes
                    f
                    foreverhungry Apr 9, 2013 12:42 PM

                    I always mix the eggs with the cheese, drain the pasta, reserve some cooking water, place pasta into pan, then add the egg/cheese mixture with a little water, and move it around. I've never had a problem with consistency.

                    The type of pan used can affect the outcome. If you use a heavy pan that retains heat well, it'll still be hot from cooking the pork product. Add hot pasta and hot water to a heavy pan that retains heat, and you don't have to worry about the eggs not reaching the right consistency, and you don't have to add heat and risk scrambled eggs.

              3. mbfant Apr 9, 2013 09:35 AM

                Can you summarize the recipe? It sounds ghastly, but that is my impression of everything "Italian" I've seen on America's Test Kitchen, which I believe has the same source.

                I don't know Jamie Oliver's recipe either, but bacon has no place in carbonara. Pancetta is the best substitute for guanciale. Bacon, with its smoky flavor, is inappropriate.

                A half cup of pasta water sounds like really a lot. You shouldn't need any at all, but if you use it, a tablespoon or two should be enough.

                11 Replies
                1. re: mbfant
                  kaleokahu Apr 9, 2013 09:58 AM

                  Hi, mbfant:

                  In a sauce nutshell, 3 large eggs + 1 yolk whisked with 2.5oz grated pecorino Romano, 1T rendered fat and pepper. Slowly whisk in 1/2C hot pasta water (*Doesn't* say use only enough to...").

                  I used pancetta BTW. "Wasted" would be a better word in this case.

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                  1. re: kaleokahu
                    c
                    cacio e pepe Apr 9, 2013 02:22 PM

                    nvm

                    1. re: kaleokahu
                      greygarious Apr 9, 2013 04:16 PM

                      By any chance did you use 2.5oz cheese by volume rather than weight? That would explain the poor results.

                      1. re: greygarious
                        kaleokahu Apr 9, 2013 04:26 PM

                        Hi, gregarious:

                        Ah, good question. CI gave the volume equivalent as 1 1/4C and Wahine prepped that way. But it was a new piece of Romano, so I'll weigh out what's left...

                        ...OK, so it was a 9oz chunk of cheese the remainder of which is now 6.5oz, So Wahine got it right. From memory, she heaped both a 1C and 1/4C measure--one of the reasons I love her so.

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                      2. re: kaleokahu
                        c oliver Apr 10, 2013 04:54 PM

                        I'm not going to say that Hazan's carbonara is the only way to go (tho it is for ME!) but compare this to what you cooked.

                        http://momofukufor2.com/2010/08/carbo...

                        Shiver :(

                        1. re: c oliver
                          f
                          foreverhungry Apr 10, 2013 06:03 PM

                          It's heresey to say anything negative about Hazan recipes on the chow board, but this Hazan recipe is not subtanitly different than the CI carbonara recipe.

                          With a dish as simple as 4 key ingredients, it comes to techinque and ingredient quality, and Hazan recipe doens't give any specific techinique clues.

                          1. re: foreverhungry
                            grampart Apr 10, 2013 06:11 PM

                            Agreed, but that pasta water thing in the CI recipe is.............different.

                            1. re: foreverhungry
                              c oliver Apr 10, 2013 06:41 PM

                              I haven't seen the recipe but what kaleo wrote it sounds QUITE different. The garlic cloves are browned in oil and removed, the 'pork' is added to the oil and cooked, then white wine is added to THAT. All that, at the end, is added to the egg, cheese, butter, parsley that the pasta has been tossed into. VERY different.

                              1. re: c oliver
                                kaleokahu Apr 10, 2013 09:00 PM

                                Hi, c oliver:

                                The 2013 CI recipe has no oil or wine or butter, but instead relies on reserving 1T of bacon drippings.

                                I omitted reporting the start of the recipe, which goes: poach the bacon in water until the H2O evaporates and the bacon browns. Then you add 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook just until fragrant. Strain the mixture, and reserve that 1T, which goes in the whisked egg/cheese mixture, to wait for the pasta to cook. THEN the 1/2C of pasta water goes in the sauce and you just toss in the serving bowl.

                                It seemed a grave sin not to deglaze the frypan--I should have realized this was a wonky way to do carbonara.

                                Aloha,
                                Kaleo

                                1. re: c oliver
                                  f
                                  foreverhungry Apr 11, 2013 07:40 AM

                                  Sorry, was referring to the original CI recipe, not the recent one.

                            2. re: kaleokahu
                              mbfant Feb 22, 2014 05:40 AM

                              I only just saw this after all this time ...

                              With all that egg and the fat, no pasta water should have been needed, and I don't think that was enough cheese, assuming we are talking about quantities for a pound of pasta. In "Sauces & Shapes" we call for 100 grams of pecorino romano (about 3.5 oz) and three whole eggs. A splash of water only in an emergency. If you used less pasta, it must really have been swimming.

                          2. f
                            foreverhungry Apr 9, 2013 10:33 AM

                            I use the CI carbonara recipe from 2001. It calls for 3 whole eggs, 3/4 cup of parmesan, and a 1/4 cup of pecorino romano, as well as 1/2 lb bacon, some white wine, and some pasta water. The recipe has always worked well for me, and folks I have made it for have enjoyed it.

                            I use bacon for the more assertive flavor. I personally find pancetta to be weak in flavor.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: foreverhungry
                              njmarshall55 Apr 9, 2013 01:31 PM

                              Agree on the pancetta. I use it cooked on egg sandwiches because I prefer the milder flavor, but I think I would use bacon in carbonara.

                              1. re: foreverhungry
                                j
                                JazzyK Apr 10, 2013 06:45 PM

                                I use this same cabonara recipe and it always comes out awesome. I get requests for it quite often.

                              2. grampart Apr 9, 2013 12:40 PM

                                I cook the pork (guanciale, pancetta, pork jowl, or in a pinch bacon) in olive oil or butter ( or both) with a clove of garlic until it browns. Remove the garlic and add the spaghetti, tossing together over low heat. Remove from heat and pour in the eggs and add some Parmesan and romano. Toss well until pasta is coated. Add the rest of both cheeses and mix again. I've, at times, mixed the grated cheeses with the eggs before adding to the pasta. I can't recall ever adding pasta water.

                                This is pretty much the method given in The Silver Spoon cookbook and, when it comes to things Italian, this book is most reliable, at least in my experience.

                                1. pamf Apr 9, 2013 12:41 PM

                                  I am certainly not an expert, but I cook carbonara at home fairly often. It's not really something that lends itself to an exact recipe, you need to watch carefully as you are finishing it to adjust for all the variables. Even so, every once and while it goes wrong and the egg cooks up a bit to much. It's very satisfying when everything aligns and you get it right. It's still pretty tasty if it's not perfect.

                                  Also, this is not a dish to be making low fat. It's a rich dish and portions should be small, so the Cooking Illustrated writer is just off base with this whole premise. Jamie Oliver's recipe with a half cup of cream is wrong too, so once again bad premise. Also, the author says the consistency gets pasty if it sits out too long. Yes, it will, this is a dish that needs to be eaten immediately, like most pasta dishes.

                                  Search for a video of Mario Batali explaining how to make it.

                                  This was a really disappointing article from CI.

                                  1. l
                                    laraffinee Apr 10, 2013 07:18 PM

                                    I have not tried that recipe and balk at using hot pasta water when I can use wine or cream. I don't follow an exact recipe, because I learned to make it from my Italian landlady when I was a student. She was one of the cooks in a local Italian restaurant in "Little Italy" and it may be a regional version from her old village - no water in the sauce, just bacon/pancetta crisped and deglazed with white wine, and then equal amount of whole eggs and egg yolks (e.g. 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks) beaten with some heavy cream then tossed into hot spaghetti with a generous amount of Romano and Parmesan, with a quick toss in the pan to gently heat through. I have enjoyed it for years this way and have made a vegetarian version with caramelized onions instead of the bacon and it is equally good.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: laraffinee
                                      kaleokahu Apr 10, 2013 08:46 PM

                                      Hi, laraffinee:

                                      Yours/hers will be the next version I try. It has the ring of truthy deliciousness about it...

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                        s
                                        sr44 Apr 10, 2013 08:55 PM

                                        Truthy?

                                        1. re: sr44
                                          kaleokahu Apr 11, 2013 06:47 AM

                                          Hi, sr:

                                          You're obviously not familiar with Colbert... http://www.nofactzone.net/2010/10/17/...

                                          Aloha,
                                          Kaleo

                                    2. r
                                      Roland Parker Apr 10, 2013 10:45 PM

                                      I was waiting for someone to start a new carbonara thread so I could boast about my wonderful discovery over the Christmas holidays.

                                      It's traditional in my household to serve Virginia cured ham for the Christmas breakfast, a tradition that comes from my mother's Virginia family.

                                      Unlike pancetta or guanicale (or regular bacon) Virginia ham is very lean but retains that sharp pork flavor.

                                      Several days after Christmas we had some cured ham left over and on the spur of the moment I decided to make carbonara with it.

                                      And it turned out absolutely fabulous, largely because the ham released that necessary pancetta/guanicale flavor without all that extra fat that one normally ends up when rendering the fattier pork products. It made for a smoother carbonara sauce with all the flavor but without the excess fat.

                                      Like many people I don't follow a set recipe for quantities in making carbonara but this is an approximate guide:

                                      In a saute pan:
                                      Melt one tablespoon butter and two of olive oil.
                                      Add 2-3 cloves smashed then minced garlic.
                                      cook till golden brown.
                                      Remove the garlic
                                      Add 1 cup (or more if you want) of chopped virginia cured ham.
                                      Cook till ham is golden brown.
                                      Deglaze with 1/2 to 2/3 cups of white wine.
                                      Set aside (return the garlic if you want, you simply don't want to cook the garlic with the ham as it may turn bitter after cooking for too long).
                                      Lightly beat 4 eggs in a shallow mixing bowl.
                                      Stir in between 1 and 1 1/2 cups of a mix of parmesean and romano cheese (approximately half each).
                                      If needed, add more cheese to reach a consistency similar to a thin cake batter, but not too thick. If you need to add more cheese use parmesean as romano is too salty. Also don't beat the eggs too thoroughly.
                                      Stir in some chopped parsley.

                                      After the pasta has cooked (we use spaghetti), toss the hot pasta with the cheese sauce and then toss with the ham/wine mixure.

                                      Grate fresh pepper over the bowl.

                                      Bon appetit!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Roland Parker
                                        c oliver Apr 11, 2013 07:35 AM

                                        Except for subbing out the pig product, that is EXACTLY Marcella Hazan's recipe!

                                        1. re: c oliver
                                          r
                                          Roland Parker Apr 13, 2013 11:46 PM

                                          It is Marcella Hazan's recipe :)

                                          I haven't looked at the actual recipe in the cookbook in over a decade and I do tweak with the proportions of ingredients, but it's still the same framework. It's hard to beat it.

                                          1. re: Roland Parker
                                            c oliver Apr 14, 2013 07:54 AM

                                            Yeah, I make it often enough that I no longer look at the recipe. I've said before that it's one of those things, minus the parsley which DOES add, where I almost always have the ingredients on hand so it can be a quick dinner.

                                      2. steve h. Apr 13, 2013 03:14 PM

                                        Ah, spaghetti carbonara. It sounds so simple, just a handful of ingredients: spaghetti, guanciale, eggs, cheeses, pepper.

                                        The best carbonara is found in Rome and the best carbonara in Rome, in my opinion, is made at Roscioli, a little place off the Campo de' Fiori. My wife and I visit Rome every year in the March-April timeframe. We shop most days at the markets and cook in our little rental apartment on the Via Giulia just off the Campo.

                                        We try to emulate carbonara in the style of Roscioli (no butter, no cream, yolks only, no substitutes for guanciale). cleopatra999's link on this thread to a video is the way we cook. The additional pasta water is key to keeping the pasta/egg/cheese mix loose as well as double frying the guanciale so it puffs up a bit and achieves a crispy coat. Here's a shot of lunch at our place last week. A quality red to wash it all down goes without saying.

                                         
                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: steve h.
                                          c
                                          cacio e pepe Apr 14, 2013 06:19 PM

                                          Wow! Other than the yearly visit (color me envious), you've described my trips to Rome. Even the rental on Via Giulia!

                                          I think we must cook this dish nearly identically . . . but do tell me more about this double frying technique. I cook the guanciale with a little olive oil at medium low. I'm quite happy with the results, but it seems I could be happier.

                                          Please add your double fry technique to the conversation.

                                          1. re: cacio e pepe
                                            steve h. Apr 15, 2013 09:40 AM

                                            Are we neighbors?

                                            Deb and I love the carbonara at Roscioli. They use only the best ingredients (farm-fresh eggs, three types of peppercorns, etc).

                                            Here's a link to a video on Katie Parla's website that demos the Roscioli technique. It's the same video that cleopatra999 linked to on this thread.

                                            http://www.parlafood.com/spaghetti-ca...

                                            The first step is frying up the guanciale, draining the fat and turning the heat down. The cooked pasta is added to the pan along with a splash of the pasta water. The grated cheeses and egg yolks go on top, contents stirred and more pasta water is added a bit at a time to keep the mixture loose. It's the hot pasta water that puffs up and crisps the guanciale, not unlike twice-fried French fried potatoes.

                                            When the mix is blended properly and still loose, plate and add the crushed pepper. A quality red is required.

                                            1. re: steve h.
                                              c
                                              cacio e pepe Apr 15, 2013 10:52 AM

                                              I'm wondering if we aren't renting the same place, just different times of the year.

                                              Ah! I see what you mean by double cooking now. Yes. This is the technique that I use and that is by far the best carbonara I've ever had. Agree re: the wine, too.

                                              1. re: cacio e pepe
                                                steve h. Apr 15, 2013 11:11 AM

                                                Massimo is my landlord. Five flights up but worth it.

                                                1. re: steve h.
                                                  c
                                                  cacio e pepe Apr 19, 2013 12:39 PM

                                                  The coincidences had to end at some point!

                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe
                                                    steve h. Apr 19, 2013 01:51 PM

                                                    That is so cool.

                                                    The Via Giulia is my home away from home: shopping, dining, late night drinking, etc.. Arguably the best neighborhood in Rome.

                                                    We may need to exchange thoughts/comments/criticisms.

                                          2. re: steve h.
                                            l
                                            lulou23 Feb 16, 2014 07:17 PM

                                            I too was in Rome in April, and rented an apartment off the Campo. I insisted we eat our last meal in Rome at Roscioli's, since it was across from our place and I had read great things about it. One of my favorite meals on my three week visit to Italy. I had their Cacio e Pepe and my mother ordered the carbonara. Both were wonderful.

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