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Carbonara

This is a favorite late-night dinner for my husband and I. John’s favorite meal is carbonara; he always asks for it on his birthday. We also make it when he plays with his rock band. John doesn’t like to eat dinner before a show so this has become our favorite midnight supper after a gig. It’s really like an early breakfast, with pasta rather than potatoes or bread. It is, after all, bacon and eggs. The only trick to Carbonara is tempering the egg yolks to ensure you do not end up with scrambled eggs. For the brightest color, I use Araucana eggs, which are widely available at Whole Foods and farmer markets. The eggs have a greenish-blue tint to the shell and the hens that lay them are often fed marigolds which make the egg yolks intensely bright yellow-orange. Many recipes for carbonara include cream—I never add cream. The creamy quality of the sauce should come from the tempered eggs emulsifying with the cheeses and pasta.

 

Serves 4-6 servings (unless John is joining you)

Originally aired

INGREDIENTS
  • About 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1/3 pound pancetta or guanciale, small dice 
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1 pound pasta such as linguine, spaghetti or egg tagliatelle
  • Grated Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano  
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 
PREPARATION

Bring a large pot of water to boil for pasta.
 
Heat olive oil, 3 turns of the pan, in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta or guanciale, brown 3-4 minutes, then add garlic and some black pepper, and stir 2 minutes more. Add wine and reduce heat to low. Whisk up egg yolks and season with salt and pepper.
 
Add pasta to salted boiling water and cook to al dente.  
 
Add 1 full cup of starchy cooking water to egg yolks in a slow stream to temper them.  Reserve an extra half-cup starchy water in case the pasta gets too tight when you toss it.  Drain pasta and add to pancetta and garlic, remove from heat and toss with egg yolks and handfuls of grated cheeses, parsley, adjust salt and pepper to taste.

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