Pasta alla carbonara

Pasta alla carbonara is one of those famous historical Italian pasta dishes. So simple to make yet always a success. There is an amusing dilemma amongst passionate “foodies” in Italy as around the world regarding if pancetta or guanciale should be used preparing the dish.

We’re talking about two different meat cuts: pancetta (known as bacon) a dry-cured pork belly and  guanciale that is an Italian cured meat product made from pork jowl or cheeks. It depend also from region to region in Italy which is used, and the arguments are many. In the end it’s a question of taste. I personally prefer the pancetta version.
I love the mild crispness of it that marries perfectly with the rest of the ingredients.
The roman version uses guanciale and pecorino cheese.
It’s a great dish to personalize, tasty and simple as it is. Important of course not to change the main sauce ingredients theme: bacon, eggs, cheese. The breadcrumbs and the parsley are my extra ingredients that you can of course skip.

Ingredients

serves 4

  • 150g pancetta (bacon) or guanciale
  • 100 g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
  • 350g spaghetti
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • sea salt and freshly grated black pepper
  • a drip of extra virgin olive oil to fry in
  • 4-5 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs (can be omitted)
  • a few tossed parsley leaves

Method

1. Put a large saucepan with water to boil.
2. Finely chop the pancetta (remove rind if there is any). Finely grate the parmigiano cheese.
3. Fry the pancetta until golden in a large pan in the hot oil with the whole, peeled garlic cloves.
4. Fish out the garlic and put the pancetta onto a kitchen paper and let the extra fat drip off. Heat the pancetta again for 1-2 minutes on the hot pan and then set pan aside.
5. Heat the bread crumbs on a pan until golden and set aside.
6. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl with half of the parmigiano cheese and some pepper (leave some for the topping). Add the milk and blend well.
7. Boil the pasta in abundant amount of water. Salt the water with coarse sea salt when it boils. The golden rule says: 10g of coarse salt for 1 liter of water and 100g of dry pasta. Boil the pasta very al dente, because it will continue to cook together with the sauce later on.
8. Reheat the pan with the pancetta strips, sieve the pasta and pour it immediately into the pan and heat for a few second and mix well with the pancetta.
9. Turn the heat to minimum and pour the sauce onto the pasta and blend delicately for a few seconds. Turn off the heat. Continue moving slowly the pasta together with sauce for a few moments. Be careful that the egg sauce doesn’t thicken too much. Spread the rest of the cheese on top with pepper to taste, and a spoonful of the breadcrumbs and some parsley.

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