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Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

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Serves 4 to 6.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from a recipe in Saveur Cooks: Authentic Italian.

We made Spaghetti alla Carbonara in an Italian Cooking course and we used no eggs. I still have the original recipe. Carbonara is famous for its sauce made with egg yolks. I wanted to make an original Spaghetti alla Carbonara, and this was it. Although peas are sometimes added, I went with a simpler sauce for this recipe.

Ingredients:

1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 ounces (140g) pancetta; diced (see options below)
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 pound (450g) spaghetti (the dry store-bought variety, or make your own pasta from scratch)
¼ pound (30g) grated Parmesan cheese, more for garnish
¼ pound (30g) grated Romano cheese, more for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional:
½ cup (60ml) heavy cream
4 ounces (115g) peas, fresh or frozen
3 ounces (85g) each pancetta and prosciutto rather than the 5 oz. pancetta used above

Directions:

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high flame and sauté the diced pancetta until browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. If using diced prosciutto, add during the final 1 or 2 minutes of frying. Set aside and let cool until needed.

Combine 4 egg yolks (set aside two egg whites until needed) (and the cream, if using) in a small pan or bowl that will fit over a saucepan of simmering water (you are assembling a basic double boiler). Heat the yolk mixture to 140°F (60°C), stirring constantly, and remove from the heat. Do not over-heat, as this will cook the yolks and you’ll have scrambled eggs. Whisk the egg whites briefly and then whisk them into the yolk mixture, combining well. Test for salt and adjust, if necessary. Cover and let cool a few minutes.

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions (typically about 12 minutes) until al dente and drain. If using freshly made pasta, it will cook in 1 to 2 minutes. Dress with a little olive oil or butter, if desired.

Combine the yolk mixture, grated cheese, and sautéed meat(s). Add to the cooked spaghetti and stir to coat completely. Plate and garnish with a little freshly grated black pepper and grated cheese. Alternately, you could garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley.

Optional: It is common to add peas to the sauce before serving. Cook the peas lightly in a small saucepan, about 5 to 6 minutes, and combine with the sauce before mixing into the cooked pasta. For a creamier sauce, ¼ cup of heavy cream can be added to the yolks before heating. For a meatier texture, you can combine diced prosciutto with the pancetta, especially if you can only buy pancetta that is sliced paper thin.