I’ve been wanting to make an authentic spaghetti alla carbonara ever since I had a fantastic one at Accademia di Vino in Manhattan a few weeks ago. I was pleased to see their version use guanciale – the pork jowl bacon I recently blogged about. That plate of pasta was a revelation! Guanciale is bacon for grown-ups my friends. Guanciale is the Himalayas of porkiness. Guanciale is.. err.. pure love!!!… I’m trying very hard not to get carried away right now and pose naked next to my slab of bacon to show you how devoted i am to this stuff… Someone please slap me… and FAST!! Look at this, isn’t it beautiful?
Making a Carbonara with guanciale is not exactly ‘nouvelle cuisine’. In fact, the dish was originally made with guanciale but since this slab of porky goodness is a bit hard to find these days, it has been replaced by bacon or pancetta. Thanks to the surge of pork love in this country, it has recently started to resurface in restaurant menus everywhere. There’s nothing wrong about making a carbonara with bacon or pancetta of course, if you have been following this blog for a while you know that I believe pork fat makes you pretty and I refuse to discriminate against any part of the pig. If you haven’t been following this blog, well… where the heck have you been!!??
As i said, i got myself a piece of Guanciale. I used Mario Batali’s trick of separating the eggs and using the egg whites for the sauce and the yolks for garnish, it worked beautifully. The parmegiano-reggiano, the freshly ground black pepper, the powerful porky flavor and the added creaminess from the yolk as you swirl it around the spaghetti. Perfection! I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as i did.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
(serves 4 )
- 1/2 pound guanciale (or pancetta or good bacon)
- 1 pound dry spaghetti
- 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
- 4 eggs, separated
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- In a large sauté pan, render and cook the guanciale until it is crispy and golden, about 8 minutes. Keep the fat from pan and set aside.
- Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Cook the spaghetti, until al dente. Drain the spaghetti, reserving the pasta cooking water.
- Reheat the guanciale in the pan with the fat and add approximately 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss in the cooked spaghetti and heat, shaking the pan, until warmed through, about 1 minute. Add the grated cheese, egg whites and black pepper and toss until fully incorporated.
- Divide the pasta among 4 warmed serving bowls. Make a nest in the center for the egg yolk. Drop an egg yolk into each serving, season with more freshly ground black pepper and grate additional cheese over the top. Serve immediately.