Sunday, August 17, 2014

Classic Pasta Alla Carbonara




The following is the only way to prepare classic Pasta Carbonara.   There is no other way,  I promise.  It's orgins are questionable.   There are several theories about how this dish came about.   I tend to lean toward the explanation of it dating back to Ancient Roman times.  Doesn't everything?    "Cacio e uva" or eggs and cheese was served to coal miners. The black pepper was added to intensify the flavor.  The black pepper resembles coal.    The second theory has to do with two Americans throwing together their food rations, namely cheese and bacon over some pasta and pasta alla Carbonara was born.  Whichever you believe, it's all good to me. 
Forget the cooking shows, fancy magazines and  several interesting cookbooks. Classics should be enjoyed and remembered not covered up and forgotten.
Since you never know when company will arrive at my house, it's always good to have a plan B.  Pasta is a perfect plan B.  I always have pancetta on hand, as salted pork jowl and guanciale is very hard to come by in Tupelo, Mississippi.   Be sure whatever you use, it is salt cured as Americans like to smoke everything and smoke has nothing to do with any italian dish.   I like to measure the amount of egg yolks you will need this way; One large egg per 1/4 pound of pasta or one egg per person.  For this recipe, you will only be using egg yolks so be sure and reserve your egg whites for a Frittata.  
My version: 
Make adjustments for an increase in pasta.  
One pound of good quality italian pasta  (Spaghetti)
                      6 ounces of diced pancetta or
                      guanciale (salted pork cheek)
                      One large skillet
                      Pasta pot filled with salted water, brought to a rolling
                      boil
                      salt (optional), to taste
                      4  large egg yolks 
                      1/2 cup Pecorino Romano
                      Several tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid from
                                cooking your pasta.  
                      Plenty of black pepper

Method:  Place your pasta Pot filled with salted water to boil.  Cook your pasta until al dente.  Cook your pancetta  until  brown lightly,  without olive oil, just on it's own and until they are cooked through and slightly crisp.  The strips make for a prettier presentation and gives your guests the option to set it aside (although I have never seen anyone actually do such a thing, as they are quite satisfying).   Place your egg yolks in a bowl with your cooking water and cheese and give it a mix.   Remember to take your egg yolks out a bit ahead as you should always be working with room temperature eggs to get a creamy consistency.  Set the bowl aside as you drain your pasta.
Drain your pasta with a bowl underneath to catch some cooking watter.     I set aside a little extra, just in case.   The starchiness of the water contribute to the creamy texture of this sauce.   Drain, add your pancetta and mix with your egg mixture.    Head straight to the table and serve with plenty of black pepper.  The black pepper gives this dish it's intense flavor. 
Buon Appetito!
If you don't believe me, just watch this wonderful video from the premier experts in Italian Food and Food culture, the Academia Barilla in Parma, Italy. 
Pasta Carbonarahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKrI9pGpM78  

2 comments:

afoodobsession said...

e' proprio cosi'!! as it should be..i'm always getting into hot water with people who insist i'm too rigid with certain dishes..i tell them if you use cream and american bacon, you are not making a BAD dish, but you are making Pasta with Smoked Bacon and Cream Sauce..there's nothing wrong with that..but it's not CARBONARA..unless you modify your title and say Pasta Carbonara Style, my way.. for something like that.. with some adherence to most of the so-called original methods/ingredients the dishes then fall into that Olive Gardening of Italian food pit. Brava.

Barbara Giacometti said...

It's doesn't leave me as upset as it used to. This is one of the reasons I started teaching. Here in the Southern, sUnited States (MS), there concept of Italian are those Italian-American franchises that do nothing but encourage ignorant behavior in the kitchen. I try to correct it always and immediately. The biggest issue for me today is the use of the world "Marinara." This is a huge pet peeve of mine since "Marinara" refers to a fish sauce, as you know. It does not refer to the use of only tomato's. Ignorance drives me over the edge. I just close my eyes and teach all I can. If that doesn't help, I always quote a my favorite, premier cooking school in Parma Italy, La Academia Barilla. Otherwise, I tell them to forget Italian food for them. hahha! Sometimes, its just not worth it! Saluti, Barbara