What better way to start off a recipe box than with this simple and mouth-watering dish? Carbonara is a classic Roman pasta that only requires a handful of key staple ingredients, which is why it’s so great for quickly whipping up for dinner, lunch, or even – dare I say – breakfast!
While many restaurants cook this dish with cream or milk, you’ll find that an authentic Italian recipe wouldn’t have any trace of it. The key is to cook the carbonara sauce off-heat so that the cooked pasta, starchy pasta water, and hot pan cooks the egg slowly, making it nice and creamy all by itself. It’s important to whisk the combination very rapidly in the pan though, keeping everything moving. Otherwise, you might end up with something closer to scrambled eggs.
Now without further ado, let’s get cooking!
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2 servings of spaghetti
3 fresh large egg yolks
Freshly grated pepper, to taste
40 g Parmesan cheese (grated), extra for garnish
4 medium-thin slices of pancetta or 4 slices of bacon
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
1 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
Begin by boiling a pot of water with a pinch of salt on medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook as directed on the package.
While the pasta cooks, separate the yolks from the the eggs and whisk together. Add the ground pepper and Parmesan cheese - set aside.
Place a pan on medium-high heat. If using pancetta, cut the piece of fatty skin off and rub it all over the pan to add a really nice flavour (or just add 1 Tbs of olive oil instead). Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the pancetta or bacon and cook until it's nice and crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and pick out the garlic (feel free to eat it or discard it - it can be really yummy if you're a garlic lover). If you used bacon and it's a bit too oily, feel free to remove 1-2 Tbs.
Add 2 Tbs of the pasta water into the pan before draining the pasta. Stir some olive oil into the spaghetti and then add to the pan. Swirl things around so that everything is nicely mixed.
Add the egg mixture to the pan and vigorously whisk together with the pasta until it's all covered. The trick is to mix it very quickly so that the egg doesn't cook too quickly and get all clumpy.
Add more olive oil if you feel like it's too sticky. Give it a taste. Does it need more salt? Go right ahead and add some and then garnish with Parmesan, parsley, and freshly ground pepper. Yum!
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