Let’s get the Italian basics out of the way. My second post is on another famous dish. Ladies and Gents, her Majesty, La Carbonara.
Some say Carbonara originated at the end of WWII in Rome. When the Allies started distributing bacon and eggs to the starving population. There is a Latin saying, “mater artium necessitas” meaning, necessity is the mother of abilities… Which is what being Italian is all about… The way I make carbonara is simple; a few ingredients, little time and big taste. I use guanciale (cured pork cheek you’ll see many times in my recipes). I always try to bring guanciale from Italy, as it’s almost impossible to find it in NYC and never tastes as good as the real thing. However, if pressed, you can use bacon. Figuring out serving sizes is very easy. I generally use 1 egg per person, 1 spoonful of Pecorino Romano and 1 spoonful of Parmigiano Reggiano. The below recipe serves 2 people.
Note: I always tend to use thick spaghetti, but chitarra, bucatini, rigatoni and mezze maniche work well too. You can use egg pasta, but I personally prefer dry durum wheat pasta. Maybe it’s because I was born in Abruzzo, where De Cecco, Cocco, Delverde and other famous pastas are made. We say it’s the fresh water from the Maiella mountain.
- 230g Spaghetti or other formats of pasta
- 2 eggs
- 2 spoonfuls of Pecorino Romano
- 2 spoonfuls of Parmigiano Reggiano
- Black pepper
- 4 slices of Guanciale (Or 4 tick slices of smoked bacon)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Let’s get started. One of the amazing things about carbonara is that it really takes just the time for the pasta to cook. Begin by placing a large pot of water on the stove. Add the salt when the water starts to boil, which is how we Italians do it (more on why in another post). One of the secrets to my carbonara is the thickness of the guanciale dices (I tend to cut them into square sections, 3mm per side, length can vary according to the piece of guanciale). Always remember to distribute them even over the pan, or they won’t cook evenly. When the water boils, add the pasta. Place the guanciale in a large pan add little EVOO and turn the flame on to medium. Cover with a lid and let the guanciale become crispy, keep an eye on the flame, you don’t want it to burn. While the guanciale is cooking, take a large bowl and beat the two eggs, generously sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and add the Pecorino Romano and the Parmigiano Reggiano. When the pasta is ready, turn both burners off and put the pasta in the pan with the guanciale. At this point, pour the egg mixture into the pan and use the heat of the pasta to “cook” the eggs. Keep tossing it until it becomes creamy. At this point, your carbonara is ready. Add more cheese if you want, and eat immediately. Yum!
Over the years I tried different variations of carbonara, stay tuned…