Let’s start this blog with a dish that, despite being simple, is rarely good outside Italy. Pasta alla carbonara should be creamy, but the creaminess should be achieved without using any cream, and should not contain any extraneous vegetables (no garlic and no onions) or meat (no chicken please!), just some form of bacon.
The most traditional bacon to use is guanciale (made from pig’s cheeks), but it’s difficult to find. Unsmoked pancetta cubes, usually sold in double packs like in the picture below, are the best choice and are available from most grocery stores. If you cannot find pancetta, you can use unsmoked lardons, but they are usually bigger so they need to be chopped in smaller cubes.
- 250g spaghetti
- 130g unsmoked pancetta cubes (or lardons)
- 3 yolks and 1 whole egg
- 15g parmigiano reggiano (grated)
- 15g pecorino romano (grated, you can replace with parmigiano)
- ground black pepper
Serves 2 as a main course, 3 as a first course.
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the instructions on the packet (the cheese and pancetta are salty, so don’t add too much salt in the water).
While the pasta is cooking, add the pancetta to a small frying pan and cook on medium-low heat for a few minutes, until it’s lightly golden. When done, remove from the heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, add the yolks, the whole egg, the cheeses and some black pepper to a bowl or deep dish. You can just use more parmigiano if you don’t have pecorino. Mix the egg mixture with a fork.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and put it back in the pan (but not on the hob), add the egg mixture and mix quickly. The residual heat in the pasta and pan will cook the egg; by mixing quickly you will prevent the eggs from forming overcooked lumps. Add the pancetta, including the fat remaining in the pan, and mix again. Serve with some more black pepper on top.