Spaghetti Carbonara is not something you simply eat. Nooo, no. It is a dish you tuck into. It is the ultimate comfort food – cozy and impossible not to love. I could tuck into a plate of carbonara every day for the rest of my life and be stupendously satisfied…and unable to button my pants. Details.
Calvin Trillin once suggested that we gather around the Thanksgiving table not for turkey, but for pasta carbonara. (My soft spot for Calvin and carbonara swells.) It is a simple dish – egg, cheese, cured pork, pasta and black pepper – that manages to be rich and creamy without a touch of cream. I roasted broccoli rabe and served it along side. The rabe’s slightly bitter snap was the perfect foil to the richness of the carbonara.
When I told D what we were having for dinner, he said “Anything with carb in its name is going to taste good.” Truth.
A few tips and tidbits:
• Carbonara is cream-less but the main goal is creaminess. You’ll see.
• Use room temperature, quality eggs (pasture-raised are best) and spaghetti (but any pasta that holds the sauce will work.)
• No need to over salt the pasta water. It is used to moisten the pasta, but the pancetta and cheese are salty enough.
• Don’t skimp on the fresh, coarsely ground pepper.
• Rumor has it that carbonara is best in small batches. In other words, double this recipe at your own risk.
• Eat right away. Do not delay.
Serves 3 – 4
From The New York Times
- Sea salt
- 2 large eggs and 2 large yolks, room temperature
- 1/3 packed cup grated pecorino, plus additional for serving
- 1/3 packed cup grated parmesan
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 1/2 ounces pancetta (or bacon), sliced into pieces about 1/4 inch thick by 1/3 inch square
- 12 ounces spaghetti
- Place a large pot of lightly salted water over high heat, and bring to a boil. Fill a large serving bowl with hot water, and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and pecorino and parmesan. Season with a pinch of salt and grind in a generous amount of black pepper.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the pancetta, and sauté until on the edge of crispness but not hard. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add pasta to the water and boil until a bit firmer than al dente. Just before pasta is ready, reheat pancetta, if needed. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta and add to the skillet over low heat. Stir for a minute or so.
- Empty serving bowl of hot water. Dry it and add hot pasta and pancetta mixture. Stir in cheese mixture, adding some reserved pasta water if needed for creaminess. Serve immediately, dressing it with additional grated pecorino and pepper.