I promise this will be my last pasta post for awhile, but I made this last night and since I haven’t updated in a while I figured it was the perfect opportunity because carbonara is my all time favorite pasta dish ever. I love pasta in all forms (baked, in soup, with just butter and cheese) but carbonara is by far my favorite way to eat my favorite carb. The velvety egg sauce with the salty pancetta and cheese melting through is an amazing combination of flavors, and it is extremely easy to make. There are many different variations on carbonara and I have tried a lot of them; the classic variation uses just eggs, pancetta, cheese, garlic and pasta (and a little pasta water if necessary) and it is simple and delicious, while other more complex variations use cream, peas, or green onions. My favorite way to make carbonara however, is with the classic ingredients plus some white wine and onion. It adds a nice depth of flavor and as we have established before any excuse to break out a bottle of wine is fine by me. I am uncomfortable qualifying this as a true carbonara, because it really isn’t, but it is something worth trying and one of my favorite go-t0 recipes when I am in need of a hearty pasta meal.
- 1/2 pound dried linguine pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 oz. pancetta, cubed
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 3 eggs, beaten and set aside in a bowl
- 1 cup shredded cheese (you can use Parmesan, but I used Pecorino Romana because it has a stronger flavor)
- 2 tbsp. butter
- salt and pepper, to your preference
The beauty of this pasta (well, one of the beauties) is that you can cook the “sauce” in the time that the pasta cooks. Therefore, we’ll start by boiling the pasta water. Duh. As the pasta water boil, pour the olive oil in a large heated pan and when the olive oil is hot, add the pancetta.
Prep your onion and garlic while the bacon sizzles on medium high heat. My garlic clove was especially large, so I took a picture:
When the bacon is just crisping, transfer it to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain by using a slotted spoon. Keep the pan on heat (don’t remove the pancetta drippings, they are YUM) and add the onions and garlic to the pan. Cook on medium high heat until soft and fragrant (I feel like I use this expression a lot).
When the onion and garlic are ready, return the pancetta to the pan. Bring the stove down to medium heat and add the wine slowly. Reduce for about 4 minutes; you want there to still be some wine in the pan when you add your pasta.
While your onion/garlic/pancetta/wine mixture is reducing, work on your egg sauce. You should have the eggs already beaten in a bowl. Add half of the cheese to the eggs and mix well. Reserve the other half. Salt and pepper the egg mixture as desired.
Here comes the somewhat tricky part. When your pasta is done, drain it (reserve a little pasta water, you might need it later). Remove the pan with the pancetta from heat and quickly transfer the pasta from the pasta drainer to the pan. Quickly mix the pasta in, coating it with the bacon and onions. While the pasta is still hot, slowly pour in the egg mixture, moving the pasta around constantly so the eggs do not scramble.
It is important that the pasta is hot when you put in the eggs so they cook a little (salmonella = bad), but you don’t want it too be too hot that the eggs scramble. This balance could take practice. If you notice that your sauce is looking a little thick, add some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. This should be smelling and looking delicious.
When the pasta is coated, transfer it to bowls. Top with the leftover cheese and serve immediately (there’s nothing worse than congealed egg pasta).