|~ Classic Carbonara with fresh black pepper and shave Reggiano ~|
Bacon and eggs! Who doesn’t love that? Along with Amatriciana and Cacio e Pepe, nothing says Rome like pasta alla Carbonara. It’s the Italian equivalent to bacon and eggs! A classic dish that although it contains only 4 ingredients, it intimidates many home cooks because it requires a bit of technique to pull off. This article will dispel those apprehensions.
Like many things, Carbonara recipes have been “tweaked” to include things like onions, garlic, peas, and cream. They don’t belong in Carbonara. Use them if you want, but you’re not making Carbonara. With that off my chest……….
1 pound Bucatini
4 whole eggs, plus 3 additional yolks
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
8 oz. Pancetta or preferably Guanciale, diced
Black pepper to taste
I purchased one large slice of pancetta that was about 1/3 of an inch thick and cut it myself so I could have larger pieces than the commercially available diced pancetta. Guanciale would be better I think, but I didn’t have that.
|~ Large cubed pancetta ~|
In a large saute pan, use 1 teaspoon of olive oil and begin browning the pancetta over medium heat. When the pancetta forms a nice crust, remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, boil the pasta water. In a bowl large enough to hold the eggs and grated pecorino, whisk thoroughly to combine.
When the pasta is just short of al dente, return the pancetta to medium heat. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and “deglaze” the pan with the water.
|~ This is the pancetta after adding the pasta water to the pan. Scrape up all the delicious brown bits ~|
Next drain the pasta to the pan with the pancetta and toss to coat. Then remove the pan from the heat. This is the key. Remove from the heat and pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta. Stir the pasta immediately with tongs constantly until the pasta is coated with the egg mixture. If you do this over the heat, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs and noodles – akin to some perverse attempt at Lo Mein. If you let the eggs sit on the noodles without stirring, you’ll end up with an egg pancake on top of pasta. Just stir them in. Is that really that hard?
|~ The pasta immediately after stirring in the eggs. Serve right away ~|
Carbonara must have abundant black pepper cracked at the table. Legend says that the dish was invented by Italian coal miners that worked late into the evening. Upon returning home, they’d want something hearty to eat, but also craved breakfast. Carbonara was the creation of necessity and the pepper was an homage to their coal mining trade.
|~ The Chef’s Plate ~|
So what to drink? Many things would work with this dish. The dish is rich, savory, and slightly smokey. While some might opt for White or Rose, I went with a medium bodied red and the pairing was great.
The 2009 La Valentina Spelt Montepulciano di Abruzzo continues to greatly impress. This is a rustic medium bodied red from Abruzzo with a beautiful deep plum color. Aromas of flowers, smoke, plums and spices are prevalent and pair well with the smokey component of the pancetta and the richness of the cheese. On the palate the wine has ripe plum flavors that are concentrated and balanced by spice and acidity. Low in tannin, their was no harsh clash between the wine and the velvety texture of the eggs. Great value here at just around $20. 91 points.
|~ A best buy! ~|
August 12, 2014