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Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara

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Serves 4 as entrée, 6 as first course

1 lb spaghetti or bucatini
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb pancetta, cut into 1/4” strips or cubes
4 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks
2/3 cup finely grated pecorino romano (plus more for garnish)
1 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano (plus more for garnish)
Freshly cracked pepper
1 bunch chopped Italian parsley (optional)

Set a covered pot of water to boil for the pasta. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the pancetta is crisp. Remove from heat.

In a large nonreactive bowl, whisk the eggs. When the eggs are incorporated, stir in the cheese. Add a generous amount of fresh pepper.

When the water is boiling, add a handful of coarse salt. Stir to dissolve, and add the pasta. Shortly before the pasta has finished cooking, remove 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pan off the heat. Add the egg mixture and half the pasta water and stir quickly to combine (to avoid “scrambled eggs”). Add the chopped parsley (if using) and stir again. Add more pasta water if needed.

Divide the pasta into bowls and top with pancetta. Serve with more grated cheese.

Cook’s notes:

  • Choosing the right ingredients for this recipe makes the difference between a mediocre dish and a fantastic dish.
  • I recommend buying fresh eggs at a farmer’s market.
  • If you can’t find imported pancetta, seek out good domestic brands like Molinari or Fra’ Mani (ask the butcher to cut it into 1/4-inch slices).
  • The pasta is also a star player: here I used Faella bucatini (pictured), but Latini and Martelli pasta are also great brands.
  • Use real Italian cheese (not pre-grated): pecorino romano and parmigiano reggiano are both sold at Whole Foods, but maybe you can find a local cheese shop that carries them.
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