Spaghetti Carbonara

I say spaghetti, but as often as not I use tagliatelle – most usually the fresh egg pasta, which cooks in no time at all, which is precisely why I use it. If I was cooking for friends, or suggesting this as date food, I’d probably go ahead with penne – for less sauce all over the face potential. But for a lover? Slurping and mess doesn’t feel like a bad thing.

Illustrated pancetta for carbonara recipeThere’s lightly cooked egg in it. Make sure you use good organic eggs you can trust. If you’re feeding this to pregnant people and you don’t want to take the risk, swap out the eggs for a generous ¼ cup of cream – it’s not the same, but it is still really good.

Ingredients (serves 4 – 6 if you add in a salad, but I wouldn’t significantly alter the quantities for a midnight feast a deux)

1 packet of spaghetti
½ cup cubed pancetta (I buy a huge lump, then chop it portion it up and freeze – it’s fine to cook it from frozen – but you could use bacon at a push)
Illustration of two eggs for carbonara recipe1 small onion (optional)
2 cloves of garlic
½ cup of white wine
2 large fresh egg yolks
½ cup of parmesan cheese plus extra for grating on top
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil

  • Bring a large pan of water to the boil, salt it generously and tip in the spaghetti. Let it boil for 1 minute less than the packet instructions so that it is al dente
  • Dice the onion finely and fry it in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Throw in the cubed pancetta and fry until crispy. Grate or finely chop the garlic and add this too turning in the oil for 30 secs – 1 minute (any more and it will burn and taste awful).
  • Pour the wine in and scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan into the liquid to make a scant sauce.
  • Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Season with salt (not too much because the bacon is salty) and lots of pepper.
  • Pour a ladle of pasta water into the eggs and mix it in – this heats the eggs up a bit so they’re less likely to scramble when they hit the hot pasta, and the starch in the water helps thicken the sauce slightly.
  • Drain the pasta and put it back in the pan.
  • Off the heat add the bacon mixture then the parmesan and the egg yolk mixture. Stir everything for a couple of minutes. It’s amazing to watch the mess turn into a thin glistening sauce.
  • Serve with extra black pepper and parmesan cheese.

This recipe originally appeared with a musing on the origin of a mysterious text message and the dramas it hinted at.

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