We will start with asking a question that has ruffled the aprons of chefs around the world:
Is Pasta Carbonara one of the original four Roman pasta recipes found in a shepherd's backpack?
Or was the legend of Pasta Carbonara just another attempt by big pasta to encourage our starch based gluttony? We have no idea, we just make the porky part. We are the Switzerland of the pasta wars.
This recipe is designed to serve 4 slightly hungry people or 3 moderately hungry people or 2 hungry people or one person who is motivated.
8 oz Pancetta Americana (our Guanciale also works well)
4 oz grated parmesan cheese
6 oz shredded parmesan cheese
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
12 oz spaghetti (any pasta will work, but we like spaghetti because it looks the best)
- Skillet (cast iron works well, but any pan will do, you want one that is at least 10inches across)
- Heat resistant bowl (Pyrex glass works the best as it allows you to see more clearly how creamy your pasta and sauce is becoming)
- Tongs for stirring and plating
- Large pot for boiling the water
- Heat resistant 2 cup capacity measuring (again Pyrex works best)
- Pasta strained
- Wooden spoon
- Start with cold water in your pasta cooking pot. Immediately add salt. In the words of our favorite chef, the pasta water should be 1/2 as salty as the ocean.
- Add your pasta once the water is boiling. Immediately stir the pasta in and stir occasionally throughout the cooking process.
- Take your pancetta and coarsely dice. Ideally your little cubes should be about ¼ to ½ inch squares.
- Over medium low heat, heat your skillet and add the olive oil. Start cooking the pancetta once the pasta is about half way done.
- Slowly sauté the pancetta. Be careful not to burn the pancetta. You want the fat to render lightly and for the cubes to caramelize.
- While the pancetta is cooking and the pasta is cooking, multitasking is fun! Place the two whole eggs (remove the shells) and the two egg yolks in your bowl and add the 4 oz of grated cheese, 2 teaspoons of salt and cracked black pepper. Stir with a fork to combine.
- At this point your pasta should be done. (Keep cooking the pancetta). Before you drain the pasta, remove 8-10 oz of the pasta water and place in the heat resistant measuring cup.
- Strain the pasta and place the pasta in the skillet with the cooking pancetta.
- Use your tongs to stir the pasta and pancetta together.
- Now here is the tricky part: Quickly add your pasta into the bowl with your egg and cheese mixture. Pour a few ounces of the still hot pasta water into the bowl and stir.
- You will see the sauce start to become creamy. Use the additional pasta water to add to the creamy texture. But don't get carried away. The pasta should be coated but there should not be excess sauce in the bowl.
- Serve the pasta on dishes and finish with extra black pepper and the shredded parmesan cheese.
For extra sophistication, serve the pasta with a Pinot Noir wine. Have your guests sip the wine and taste the pasta BEFORE you add the extra ground pepper. Then have them taste the pasta with the extra ground pepper and then try the wine again. You can really tease out the native black pepper flavor found in most Pinot Noir wines. Or just open a nice can of Budweiser and insist to your guests that Carbonara was actually invented in the good old USA. Put your boots up on the table and enjoy your meal as the argument rages on.