Carbonara can be intimidating. The key (like everything in life) is to keep it simple. As little ingredients as possible. Egg, cheese and meat. No peas. No onions. The one universal golden rule is to never use cream.
Traditional carbonara will use guanciale, an unsmoked italian bacon, pecorino cheese and eggs.
Guanciale can be hard to find, so pancetta is a close substitute. Bacon can be used as well. Mixed with the eggs, it gives the dish a very breakfast taste. For me bacon's smokey flavor is a bit overpowering. Parmesan reggiano can be used instead of pecorino.
My personal ingredient preference are parmesan and pancetta. For this particular post, I decided to use pecornio and pancetta.
- Pasta pot (Always cook pasta in a large pot to ensure even cooking)
- Large pasta bowl for mixing
- 1-cup measuring cup
- Cheese grater
- Spatula and Tongs
- 3 bowls (to hold separated egg yolks, grated cheese and sliced meat)
- 1lb Dried spaghetti
- 5 oz diced pancetta, gunciale or bacon
- 3 Egg yolks
- 2 cups of freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt
- Fresh cracked pepper (keep a pepper grinder on hand. The more the better.)
- Olive Oil
- Bring large pasta pot water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and a few pinches of salt.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a small pan of olive oil and add meat. Cook until it starts to crisp and fat begins to render (5 mins). Crack in some fresh pepper and stir. Continue to cook until pepper is fragrant.
- Take pan off heat. Add meat, oil and pepper to the large pasta bowl to cool. (1 min)
- Add eggs and cheese to the cooled meat and oil and mix into a paste.
- Cook pasta until al dente (soft with a slight bite, about 10 mins total). When done, scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water with the measuring cup. Strain pasta.
- Add a little of the pasta water to paste to create a nice creamy sauce. It's importantly do to this using a little water at a time and mixing to prevent the sauce from becoming too watery. Add pasta to bowl, crack more pepper in and toss with tongs to combine. Add more pasta water if needed.
- Plate. Crack more pepper and sprinkle with more cheese to serve.