Saturday, September 29, 2018

Pasta alla Carbonara

This is a plate that has to be on the table in heaven; pasta alla carbonara.  With only 5 ingredients; guiancale or pancetta (more on that later), pasta, eggs, cheese and pepper you would think that this dish would be a snap to make but it takes practice and following some basic rules.  Today I was privileged to watch as the Chef at Il Molino which is owned by Enoteca Properzio prepared this dish.  She has had years of practice, and she said your goal is not to scramble the eggs.  So here's how she makes it, and let me tell you it is heaven on a plate. 
The essentials: two schools of thought, either use guincale or pancetta, here she uses pancetta since it is leaner, pecorino, pamigiano, and pasta.

Look at the color of those eggs:  for 2 people you need 1 whole egg, and 1 egg yolk

Mix together the eggs, 2 heaping tablespoons Pecorino, and 1 heaping tablespoon Parmigiano, with pepper and a ladle (about 1/4 cup) of hot pasta water.

Set the mixture on the back of the stove top so that it will stay warm---this is really important, make sure that your ingredients are warm before you add them to the hot pasta

Cook the pancetta until crispy, basically while the pasta boils

This is how the pro's do it---and you can too.
No one is really sure where carbonara came from, some people say that it was made by the coal miners in poor southern regions, the pepper reminding them of the coal dust.  Others say that it originated after the second World War when the allies brought bacon and powdered eggs to the starving Italians.  At this point, I don't think it matters where it came from, all I know is that it is a beautiful, simple dish that is satisfying and pairs well with a rich red wine like Arnaldo Caprai Spinning Beauty

Pasta alla Carbonara
Serves 2

1/4 cup chopped pancetta
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
2 heaping tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese
1 heaping tablespoon Parmigiano Reggiano
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound buccatini or pici, or strangozzi, cooked 2 minutes short of al dente (save some of the pasta water)

  1. Pour 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into a skillet, and cook the pancetta until just crispy.  Set aside and keep warm.  
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, yolk, Pecorino, Parmigiano and the pepper.  Spoon in about 1/4 cup of the hot pasta water.   Keep warm--if you don't have a stove top to warm this, I'd advise covering it to keep it warm.
  3. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss with the pancetta over the heat.  
  4. Remove from the heat and toss in the egg mixture, turning to coat the pasta, and distribute the egg mixture.  If need be, put back on low heat to continue cooking.  
  5. Serve the pasta garnished with more black pepper, and serve.  

Thank you to our famiglia Angelini and the Chef at Il Molino for such as special treat to learn how to make this beautiful dish.  There is Dr. C. ready to tuck in for lunch.  Ciao for now!

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