Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
Like most recipes, the origins of the dish are obscure, and there are many legends about it. As the name is derived from the Italian word for charcoal, some believe that the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers. I personally like also the story that wants the Sardinian shepherds responsible for the invention of such succulent recipe: it comes easier to poeticize about walking the sunny hills of Sardinia with your dog, your sheep and a bag full of food, than about the poor miner coughing his brains out , while stuck in a dark hole underground, no matter what he’s eating.This recipe, even if a bit tricky, is very easy and quick to prepare; the secret is the freshness of the ingredients.
The true and original Carbonara is prepared with guanciale (cured hog jowls), and has no cream: the secret to achieve a nice creamy consistency is the perfect balance between the eggs and the cheese…and the starch water you scoop out of the pot while you’re cooking the pasta. The same way we did when we made fresh pesto, some hot water will help you while tossing the spaghetti in the pan, for its last minute of cooking.
Serves: 4 / Prep Time: 10 min / Cook Time: 10 - 15 min
If you are able to get yourself a nice piece of Guanciale cut it into small cubes. If you are working with Pancetta, try to buy the thickest slices you find; cut the bacon lengthwise and then slice into small squares.
Cook the Guanciale in about 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil, until well-cooked, crisp and golden brown. Add the garlic chopped in medium pieces and sauté with the Guanciale for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside (do not drain the fat).
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook your pasta…and here is when the tricky part starts!
The true Carbonara does not have cream: you are responsible for creating, with a time-pitch-perfect execution, its unmistakable sauce. With a ladle scoop some water from the boiling pasta, and set aside in a small cereal bowl.
In a different bowl, beat the egg yolks, the whole egg, the grated Parmigiano (or Pecorino) and some ground pepper, then add the Guanciale with all its fatty oil.
Make sure you cook your pasta al dente, drain it and place it into a large serving bowl or platter. Quickly add the sauce and mix very well, then add a couple of very small scoops of "pasta water" to help create the Carbonara unique creaminess. Serve garnished with some grated Parmesan (or more Pecorino) and a drip of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Debi and Gabriele
Important Note: I modified this recipe. Text content is slightly different from video.
I found that sauce cooks enough if mixed into its serving bowl when pasta is coming right out of the strainer. Using the pan to sauté the Carbonara can be very tricky, especially if you use too many egg whites.... you might end up with spaghetti and scrambled eggs.