My Mother always made Pasta Carbonara when I was growing up in Brooklyn. But she made it her own way. Unlike the original way, she would include regular bacon, onions, garlic and butter. The rest of the ingredients were the same. I have my original post for Past Carbonara they way my mother made it here: https://cookingitaliancomfortfood.com/2010/05/27/pasta-carbonara/ Don’t get me wrong, I love this version, grew up eating it as one of my original comfort foods and make it till this day. But I thought I would show you the authentic way of preparing Pasta Carbonara. We don’t use cream or butter, no garlic or onions, and instead of hickory smoked American bacon we use guanciale. Pancetta is the alternate pork product to use, and easier to purchase than guanciale. Pancetta is from the pork belly like bacon, but is cured without smoke. Guanciale is like pancetta but does not come from the pork belly. Guanciale is from the pig’s jowls. The flavor is more intense and is the true ingredient for Pasta Carbonara. If you can’t find Guanciale at your grocer or Italian Specialty store, Pancetta works fine.
Pasta Carbonara is best eaten fresh, so make only enough for your current meal. It doesn’t do well as leftovers. This recipe is for serving 4 people, or 3 really hungry people. The best pasta to use is thick spaghetti, bucatini or linguini. The ingredients are few and simple, like many other great Italian dishes. The secret is to use the best ingredients available.
PASTA CARBONARA RECIPE
12 ounces of Thick Spaghetti, Bucatini or Linguini
4 ounces of Guanciale or pancetta cut into small dice or cubes
2 ounce of Pecorino Romano cheese grated
2 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt and plenty of Black Pepper
Cut the guanciale into strips and dice into small cubes.
Mix the two egg yolks in a small bowl with the grated cheese, pinch of salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Mix until creamy then set aside.
In a large frying pan over low heat, cook the guanciale. You want to render all the fat from the guanciale until crisp. Don’t burn it.
Once the guanciale is crisp and browned remove from the pan and set aside. Keep the rendered fat for later.
At this point you should have a pot of salted water on the boil. Add the pasta and cook till al dente. Take a cup of the pasta water before you drain the pasta and set aside. Drain the pasta. With the heat on low, add the pasta to the fat from the meat along with the pieces of crispy guanciale and half your saved pasta water. Mix together well until some of the water is absorbed.
This is very important, remove the pan from the heat before you add the egg and cheese mixture. You don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs and pasta. Add a few tablespoons of the hot pasta water to the egg and cheese mixture while stirring to temper the eggs. Now add the egg and cheese mixture to the pasta while constantly stirring quickly. The heat from the pasta will cook the egg. Add more pasta water as needed to give you more moisture , this water makes more of the sauce and give the dish a creamy finish. Keep stirring well until you get the desired creamy sauce.
Add some more black pepper and top with additional grated cheese. Serve immediately.
I have to say that I have had Pasta Carbonara prepared in every way possible, and except for my mother’s version, this by far is the best. The creaminess and cheesy sauce on the pasta combined with the crunchy outstanding pork flavor of the crispy guanciale puts this dish in a class of its own. It’s like nothing you ever had.
Here’s a slightly different, …but also delicious, way to make Spaghetti Carbonara: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAEVZcRaTzE
Peter, You are making me hungry again. thanks,Richard