There are many variations of this dish, but every recipe includes a few staples ingredients and techniques: hot pasta noodles are poured over a mixture of black pepper, parmesan or pecorino (or both) and raw eggs: the heat from the pasta cooks the eggs and melts the cheese to make a delicious, rich sauce to which a fatty pork (like pancetta) is added for more depth and flavor. Cheese, a creamy sauce, salty pork… it doesn’t get any better.
My husband’s outstanding recipe calls for chopped parsley and garlic, adding more color and depth of flavor to the dish. It is adapted from Marcella Hazaan‘s phenomenal Italian cookbook, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. (A review of this cookbook coming shortly: for now, I will say that this is a must for anyone eager to cook authentic Italian cuisine.)
Nothing about this dish is difficult, but the secret to making the perfect carbonara lies in the preparation of ingredients: you must have a mise en place (French for “everything in place”, meaning that you have everything chopped, prepared and ready to go before you begin cooking.) Just a little tip to make your carbonara experience a fantastic one! 🙂
Pasta alla carbonara recipe
You will need:
1/2 pound pancetta or thickly sliced bacon
5 garlic cloves (whole and peeled, not chopped!)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine (I suggest a Sauvignon Blanc)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/4 pounds pasta (fettucine, spaghetti, etc)
1. Set up your mise en place: chop your pancetta, grate your cheeses, chop the parsley, peel the garlic cloves, boil your water for the pasta, etc.
2. In a saucepan, sautee the garlic cloves in the olive oil until the cloves are light brown. Remove the cloves: they are only used to flavor the oil and not meant to be consumed.
3. In the same pan with the now-flavored oil, brown the pancetta until it is crispy. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
4. In a large bowl, break the three eggs and beat them. Add the grated cheeses, the parsley and an ample amount of fresh cracked black pepper.
5. Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and immediately add it to the bowl of eggs, cheese and parsley. Thoroughly toss with thongs, and make sure to work quickly: the eggs will begin to cook as soon as they touch the hot pasta, and you don’t want scrambled eggs!
6. Quickly reheat the pancetta and the oil and then add both to the pasta and toss again. Serve immediately.
We had our carbonara with a delicious Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity of the wine cut the creaminess of the pasta and it was a fantastic pairing. I would suggest a milder Sauvignon Blanc: a grassy one from New Zealand would probably be overpowering, so would an incredibly citrusy one.
Enjoy! And buon appetito!
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