C. De Melo is a Renaissance Art Historian & Author specializing in historical novels set in Italy. Please visit cdemelo (dot) com
Here in Italy, Spaghetti carbonara is a dish that triggers Italians. Some insist on using guancia, which is pig's cheek. Others use pancetta—then there is the controversy over pancetta dolce (ham) and affumicata (smoked ham). It's a matter of preference and, for my recipe, I normally use the latter.
Our Tuscan friends have eyed my husband dubiously whenever he's stated that I make the best carbonara he's ever tasted. A few of them have tried my version and agreed with him. Now, you can decide.
Christine's Spaghetti Carbonara
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Spaghetti Carbonara is definitely a dish that requires skill to prepare because of the fine line it balances. Because you're utilizing raw eggs, you have to get several variables just right.
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Too much heat and the eggs scramble. Not enough heat and you end up with raw eggs (yuk- not to mention a health hazard). When the raw eggs are added to the hot, cooked pasta, they should be heated up just enough to create a creamy sauce. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen.
I've used the following recipe for years and it's never let me down.
The recipe below is for two abundant portions.
- 1/4 c cubed pancetta
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3T grated Parmesan cheese
- black pepper, to taste
- 200–250 grams spaghetti
- 1t salt
- Set water to boil then add coarse salt and pasta.
- Meanwhile, fry pancetta and set aside. Drain all but one teaspoon of fat and leave in skillet.
- Saute onions until they are caramelized. Mix together with pancetta and set aside.
- While spaghetti is cooking, mix the eggs with cheese and pepper. Set aside.
- Drain pasta and return it to the hot pot (be sure to shut off the stove). Add pancetta, onions, and egg mixture immediately. Stir quickly.
- Serve immediately. The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs to perfection, and the cheese and pepper will be evenly dispersed. The result is a creamy, tasty pasta.
© 2016 C De Melo