Spaghetti Carbonara is the definition of a guilty pleasure. Starchy noodles, eggs, cheese, pork fat...it doesn't get any better. So although I wouldn't recommend this as a weekly dish, it's perfect for that special dinner. A red checkered tablecloth, bottle of wine, and some candles, and you've got a romantic night at home.
1 lbs spaghetti
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 lbs pancetta, 1/4 in thick, cubed
3 cloves of garlic, minced
fresh italian parsley
I used pancetta from Whole Foods. I asked the guy behind the counter slice it to a quarter inch thick because thinly sliced pancetta just does not cut it in this dish. The cubed pieces of pancetta add an important textural component to the dish--some pieces are crispy, while some still have a pleasant chew. Also make sure that you use a good quality parmesan. We grated a block of parmegiano reggiano ourselves.
1. Boil spaghetti for the amount of time indicated on the package in liberally salted water--this is your only chance to season the pasta itself!
2. Beat 4 eggs and add 1 cup of parmesan. You may also crack some fresh black pepper into this mixture.
3. Add pancetta to a pan without any oil--trust me, the pancetta will render enough fat on its own.
4. Cook until browned, but not all the way crispy. We want to maintain a meaty chew to the pancetta.
5. Right before the pancetta is finished cooking, add in minced garlic. Make sure the garlic does not burn.
6. Drain pasta and add it directly to the pan with the pancetta, garlic bits, and glistening rendered pork fat. (you could drain some of the fat, but why would you want to lose that liquid gold?)
7. Add egg and cheese mixture to the pasta and stir vigorously to keep the egg from scrambling. The eggs, cheese, and fat will coat the noodles in a luxuriously thick and creamy sauce. If it is too thick, feel free to add some of the pasta water to loosen it up.
8. Garnish with fresh parsley and some more grated parmesan.