in my kitchen | spaghetti all carbonara


i once worked at an italian restaurant, vivace, that had the best spaghetti alla carbonara that i have ever tasted. it was a divinely simple and expertly executed version with a perfectly poached egg on top and generous amounts of freshly cracked black pepper. a lot of people tend to be intimidated by carbonara because they think it has to be heavy with loads of cream and put you into a carb-induced coma after consumption; however, this dish was neither. it was light enough to allow me to make the larger portion my bitch and still have room for dessert. then again, there is always room for dessert. am i right? or am i right?

one of my favorite things about cooking is attempting to recreate dishes that i've had in restaurants. this dish was no exception. i was determined and on a mission. since then, i've found quite a few different carbonara recipes, some more complicated than others. but once i learned and adopted the technique, it was easy to whip up my own version. and while my recipe doesn't have a poached egg on top- i cannot for the life of me master that technique... someone help me!- it is just as simple, uses very few ingredients, and, most importantly, it's just as good. i promise you that.

a bonus to this recipe is that you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge, minus the pancetta. you could totally substitute diced bacon if you have that on hand and then you wouldn't even need to leave the house. you just keep that cute hiney in those yoga pants you've been wearing for three days. no shame.

spaghetti alla carbonara
(serves 2)

1/2 lb of spaghetti (fresh is best, but dried is fine.)
1- 4 oz package of pre-diced pancetta (available at almost all grocery stores)
2 tbsp unsalted butter (use real butter, not margarine. ain't nobody got time for that.)
1/2 cup half-and-half (or whole milk. but don't you dare use that skim or low-fat shit.)
1 organic large egg yolk
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese (parmesan & grana padano are great substitutes)
lots (technical term!) of freshly cracked black pepper
sea salt to taste
reserved salted pasta water*

*meaning, don't drain your noodles in a colander. instead, use tongs to transfer noodles straight to the pan with the sauce. if you don't have tongs, use a measuring cup and take out a cup of the pasta water before draining. you will need it.

bring salted water to a boil. cook the noodles to al dente (they will continue to cook a bit when they're tossed in the pan so make sure to not overcook them to the point of mush.) while the noodles are cooking, put pancetta in a cool frying pan. turn on heat to medium-high so that the fat can render out and make the pancetta brown and crispy. after the pancetta is almost crispy (about 5 minutes), turn the heat down to medium and add butter. (yes, i leave the pancetta fat in the pan. that's extra flavor, man!) after the butter has melted, add the half-and-half. let the sauce cook for a minute to merry flavors. add copious (aka lots) amounts of freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of sea salt. add the cooked noodles directly from the boiling water and toss in the sauce. add the egg yolk to the pan and toss the noodles in the sauce (do so continuously so that you don't scramble the yolk).

once the egg yolk has been mixed throughout the noodles, finely grate the cheese into the pan and toss again. at this point, you may need to add a few tbsp of the reserved pasta water at a time to thin the sauce out a bit to your liking. i ended up using about 1/3 cup of water. it really just depends on how thin you want your sauce. i like mine a bit thicker and stuck to the noodles.

serve with grilled garlic ciabatta and a big glass of red wine and call it a day.

buon appetito! 


Unknown said...

Yum yum yum yummmm. Yes - there is ALWAYS ROOM for dessert, even after a meal as nice and filling as this. This looks very tasty - carbonara is something I make if we have friends round because it's easy but looks great with some salad and garlic bread. Second the glass of red wine. All round delicious post!



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