Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Alfredo, vodka, carbonara. These all have something in common; creamy and full of flavor. I have never been a huge pasta fan, keeping to my side of the carb spectrum with eating all of the mashed potatoes in sight. Recently however, I have found a love for pasta if it meets the above criteria. Thin spaghetti sauces, step aside.

Before heading off to Italy, my friend suggested that I try my hand at making this dish. I’m extremely grateful for the suggestion because it was super easy and foolproof. Just make sure that the pasta is hot when you add the eggs to the dish so that the carryover heat cooks the eggs but does not scramble. I am a huge cheese lover and learned that there is a limit to the amount of parmigiano reggiano that can be added to a dish. The delicious cheese has a saltiness to it and I went a little heavy handed on my plate. That said, Tyler Florence does a great job at bringing this dish to your table.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra­ virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat­leaf parsley, chopped

Directions

  • Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian “al dente.”)
  • Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame.
  • Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.
  • Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.)
  • Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass more cheese around the table.

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