Recipes from two guys who have always loved cooking.
This pasta dish is one of my favorites for two reasons: it’s an interesting pasta dish and the origin story is pretty funny, at least to me. I don’t even remember where I heard the story or if it’s even true. They say Carbonara came from coalminers who made meals in the mines, with whatever they had. Stuff that did not spoil sounds logical. So they made this pasta in the mines and it would have little speckles of black from the coal. Gross. That just makes me wonder what the cancer rate was. The interesting part about this dish is that, it is sort of “sauceless” in the traditional sense. There is a sauce but it’s made in a different way than you might imagine. I’m just going to warn you, it involves raw eggs.
WARNING RAW EGGS INVOLVED. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. DON’T SUE US.
Now that I’m legally insolated, let’s dive in. I wouldn’t say this is something really easy to do: it uses some advance techniques to make the eggs safe to eat. But don’t be scared, I’m here for you. All you need is spaghetti, beaten eggs, bacon or pancetta (a fatty meat), parmesan cheese, and black pepper. I also added in green chili peppers for some heat and color.
Boil salted water and put in the spaghetti. Crisp the bacon in another pan on medium heat. I used an uncured bacon from Trader Joe’s. We’re going to make bits of the bacon, and you can chopped them first and then crisp them, but I like chopping it after because you get this “bacon dust” from chopping crispy bacon on your cutting board. And it spreads the taste. But it doesn’t matter that much. When the bacon is done, remove and discard some of the fat, leave about a teaspoon. There’s enough coating the pan.
At this point the pasta should be al-dente and ready to go, if it is not, take the bacon pan off heat until the pasta is ready. Be sure to have about half a cup of that pasta water reserved (I just leave some water when I drain). I threw in chopped chili peppers and sautéed them in the bacon fat on medium high. Add in the pasta and toss. Salt (if necessary) and pepper–be generous with the pepper because you want to showcase that flavor. Makes it look like you have coal on your pasta! Add in some grated parmesan.
Now the tricky part. With the beaten eggs ready, take the pan off the heat and add the eggs. The idea is, the pan should be hot enough to temper the eggs, but not coagulate them. Toss to mix the eggs in, and if you see some specs of yellow egg, you know its cooking. That’s not what you want. But some is fine. I touch the pasta to judge if it’s hot enough. If not, return to a very low heat. The pasta should be creamy. Put the bacon back in and some more parmesan and toss.
And there you go. Once you have the hang of tempering eggs, this is a really straight forward dish. If you make this for other people, just warn them there are raw eggs involved. Buon Appetito!