Other than doing butter and cheese, Carbonara is one of the simplest recipe for amazing pasta. And I love pairing this pasta with a filet of beef cooked perfectly medium rare. Don’t let the simplicity of this recipe (and it’s ingredients) fool you. This recipe delivers on flavor; it just requires a little technique to pull it off. Continue reading and I’ll walk you through it step by step.
This makes two dishes.
- 100 – 120 grams of Pasta (dried). Remember this is going with a filet of beef so we don’t need to much pasta. If you would like more because you love pasta that much, feel free and cook as much of it as you want. Just adjust portions accordingly.
- 2 Eggs at room temperature. I feel like one egg per person is enough. If you like your pasta very saucy go ahead and throw one more.
- 1 cup of shredded Pecorino Romano cheese. Pecorino is the original cheese but you can use Parmessan if you don’t have Pecorino around. As with the eggs, if you like your sauce very creamy, adda another 1/2 cup of cheese.
- 1 cup of thickly diced Guanciale / Pancetta / Bacon. OK, so the original recipe calls for guanciale. If you don’t have it, it is very common to use pancetta or bacon. But you can probably find it at your nearest butcher if you ask.
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil (if using bacon)
- 1 garlic clove. Some people say the original recipe has it others say it does not. I think it adds a nice touch.
Cook the pasta — on a big pot boil one liter of water. Add the pasta and stir occasionally so it does not stick. Always cook the pasta to about 3 minutes short of what the directions tell you. This will allow you to continue to cook the pasta when we mix it in with the sauce later preventing it from overcooking.
While the pasta is cooking, place the guanciale in a non-stick skillet and bring it up to medium heat. As it renders down all its fat stir it occasionally. Then in another bowl whisk the egg and cheese together. You want to whisk the egg and cheese mixture well. We will not add this until the last minute so don’t rush. You can always turn off the heat and set your guanciale skillet away from the heat for a bit.
Tip: Notice that we are not pre-heating the pan/skillet before adding the guanciale. This is because we want to render out all the fat from it; that’ll be our oil. If you are using bacon for this dish or a pancetta with very little fat you may have to add some oil.
When your pasta is almost ready (about 3 mins short of what the directions say) you want to transfer the pasta from the boiling water to the guanciale skillet and mix well. Its OK if some of the water from the pasta falls into the skillet – This actually helps emulsify the liquid fat (making the fat/oil thicker). But don’t add too much water or your sauce will come out very liquid. It will still taste delicious but we want to strive for a thick and creamy sauce.
Once you have added the pasta to the guanciale skillet turn off the heat on the stove. Keep mixing the pasta until you don’t hear any more of the sizzling. Add the egg and cheese mixture. Make sure to stir as you add the mixture in and keep the skillet away from any direct heat while you mix. The heat from the pasta will cook the sauce, anymore than that and you are making scrambled eggs with pasta.