C. De Melo is an author & art historian in Florence who specializes in historical novels set in Italy.
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.
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