Classic Pasta Carbonara
I’ve written a fair amount here about carbonara and how it’s my all-time favorite pasta dish. We’ve encountered some truly exceptional versions while traveling, and luckily for me, Kathleen is skillful enough to make an equally good version for my regular consumption here at home. And now, it’s time for us to share with you exactly how it’s done!
First—and I can’t possibly state this strongly enough—there is NO CREAM in a true carbonara! I refuse to dine at any Italian restaurant that lists cream as an ingredient in their carbonara, and you should too. Egg yolks, black pepper, guanciale (or pancetta), and cheese—that’s it! You can put veggies or whatever in there, if you’re a monster, but, really, don’t—it’s perfect all on its own.
Make this recipe and you’ll be transported straight to Rome. The silky egg coating the pasta, salty bites of pork, zesty cracked black pepper, and sharp, tangy cheese will combine to create a taste sensation unlike any other, and you’ll be left wondering why you’ve been messing with other pasta dishes when the world’s most perfect pasta creation was right there waiting for you all along. Go, make it now, and tell us what you think in the comments!
Classic Pasta Carbonara
A classic Roman pasta carbonara.
- 1 lb bucatini (can be made with spaghetti when bucatini is unavailable)
- 4 oz cubed pancetta or guanciale
- 1 cup starchy cooking water
- 6 egg yolks
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (I like to top this with 1 tbs Pecorino Romano)
- 1 tbs olive oil
- Bring water to boil. Salt water. Add pasta to salted water.
- When pasta has begun cooking, heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium high heat.
- When oil glistens, add pancetta/guanciale. Cook until pork has rendered its fat and is browned and slightly crisp.
- Meanwhile, separate 6 yolks from 6 egg whites. Save egg whites for a future dish and beat yolks. Add a very healthy dose of freshly cracked black pepper to yolks. Crank that black pepper until your hand is sore and your nose tingles and you may have enough then. Add Parmesan and Pecorino blend. I like the bulk of the 1/4 cup to be Parmesan but like to add a layer of pecorino on top. Put aside egg mixture.
- Reserve at least 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta, put pork to low, and add pasta to pork. Add a portion of the starchy cooking water (about 1/3 of the cup) and remove pan from heat.
- Slowly begin to add egg mixture to pasta while stirring constantly. You may want to add more pasta water before adding eggs to ensure that eggs won’t scramble when they hit the heat of the pasta. Stream in pasta water alongside egg mixture (two people and two sets of hands may be helpful here, especially until you get the timing right). You may not need to stream in the entire cup of water, but should only stream until egg yolks coat the pasta in a silky sauce.