Tutorial: Pasta alla Carbonara
If you frequent newsgroups or recipe sites, you will come upon many different recipes for carbonara. Every time I see a recipe that includes onions or cream (yikes) I want to pull my hair out. Carbonara, like most recipes you will find in Italy is a very basic recipe. You only need a few ingredients and you can make something that is truly a taste of shear bliss. The biggest problem with the recipe is the way it is made. So many miss a step or try to hurry things along and what they end up with is scrambled eggs and bacon.
The reason for my writing this instruction page is because I was reading some food blogs and came across one by a chef who followed a recipe they found and ended up with scrambled eggs. I then saw a cooking show where they made "classic" Carbonara and added cream but still called it "classic". So if you want to make this without making scrambled eggs, follow this quick tutorial and you will be eating a masterpiece in less than 15 minutes.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
50 grams of pancetta per person
1 egg yolk per person
1 handful pf parmigiano or pecorino Romano grated per person
80-100 grams pasta per person
Fill up a large pot with water and set it to boil
While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the "sauce"
Cut slices of pancetta and then cut the slices into small strips
The water should be boiling now so add a handful of sale grosso (Kosher salt) and then add the pasta.
Place cut pancetta into a large dry skillet (I use a saltapasta pan which looks like a wok with a handle).
Cook over low heat until the fat has melted and the pieces of pancetta are browned and crisp.
Turn off the heat. In a large bowl, crack the egg and place in the egg yolks.
Add the parmigiano by handfuls (this is how much a handful is)
Add some fresh ground black paper (should be a good amount) and mix the eggs, cheese and pepper together with a fork.
Your mixture should look like this
If it is too thick, add a little of the leftover egg whites, a spoon at a time until it looks like the above photo.
Turn back on the heat for the pancetta. The pasta should be cooked (should be a little less than al dente), remove it from the boiling water but DO NOT throw away the water it boiled in. Do not shake off the excess water but immediately dump into the hot pancetta and fat and mix well. Add a ladle of the pasta water and cook over high heat until the water is absorbed.
Next, find a helper (this makes it easier but once you have mastered this recipe, you can do it alone without a problem) and while one of you is armed with two mixing utensils, the other dumps the hot pasta/pancetta mix into the bowl. Immediately start mixing as quickly as possible.
VERY IMPORTANT COMMENT HERE: Always dump the pasta into the egg mixture (in the bowl) not the other way around into the pan or you WILL get scrambled eggs for sure.
Add a little more of the pasta water and continue to mix for a bit. It is ready to be served when it looks creamy.
Now all you have to do is serve and eat. Buon appetito!