Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pasta carbonara

A little over a year ago I took a class with famed chef Roberto Donna. The class focused on Italian pasta sauces and we made our own pasta as well. Someone recently asked me, of all the sauces we made, which one was the most memorable. To me, it was the carbonara. I've made carbonara sauce before but I fell in love with it in the class. It's simple, comforting, satisfying--everything pasta should be. Here's my basic version of carbonara. You can add a little garlic or onion if you like. You can make it into a primavera by adding some veggies. But it really needs nothing else.

Pasta Carbonara

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, cubed
3 to 4 eggs (depending on size of eggs)
¼ cup half-and-half
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 pound dry pasta (I like angel hair pasta but fettuccine and others also work well)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook just until it is at the al dente stage. (For angel hair pasta this takes less than 5 minutes, but fettuccine takes closer to 10 minutes.)

While water is heating, start to prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil in deep skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook just until crisp (about 5 minutes).

Drain pasta and add to the pan with pancetta and toss gently for about 1 minute to mix. Beat the eggs, cream, and Parmesan in a mixing bowl. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the egg, cream, Parmesan mixture into the pasta, blending quickly and gently. Do not let egg mixture harden (it shouldn’t be the consistency of scrambled eggs). Return pan to burner and gently cook for about a half minute, just until the sauce is no longer runny. If necessary, thin the mixture with additional cream. Season the carbonara with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve topped with parsley and additional grated Parmesan.

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