On November 30th, 2020 we hosted an online apertivio entitled “The New Grand Tour”, as part of our Tre Aperitivi Fundraiser. During that Aperitivo, Valerio shared a video he made of Egizia preparing spaghetti alla carbonara in La Romita’s own kitchen. The recipe is featured in our very own cookbook, “Palates and Palettes: La Romita’s Cookbook”.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
1 lb of dried pasta (spaghetti are traditional) 4 eggs
1⁄4 lb pancetta, finely diced
1⁄3 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp salt
This recipe was originally published in our very own cookbook, Palates & Palettes: La Romita’s Cookbook
Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. In a skillet over low heat, fry the pancetta with the garlic in the olive oil until the fat has rendered and the meat is lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, but do not drain. In a small bowl, thoroughly beat the eggs, cheese, salt, and pepper together. Set aside.
Salt the boiling water, return to a boil and add the dried spaghetti or fettucine. Cook the pasta until almost al dente. Reserve a 1⁄2 cup of the pasta water and empty the pot into a colander—however, do not, as with a tomato-based sauce, try to remove most or all of the cooking water from the pasta! Instead, return the (slightly) drained pasta to the pot you boiled it in, and immediately add the pancetta (including the rendered fat) and the egg/cheese mixture. Stir vigorously over very low heat until the egg mixture starts to thicken, but don’t let the eggs coagulate on the bottom of the pan. As you are stirring, add back in some of the reserved pasta water if the pasta starts to dry out, which can happen as the cooling pasta will continue to absorb liquid for about 5 minutes. The pasta water contains starch molecules that help thicken and bind the other sauce ingredients. If desired, use an instant read thermometer to verify the pasta has reached 160° Fahrenheit. Serve immediately!
A variant of this dish calls for replacing two of the eggs with 3 Tbsp to 1⁄4 c. heavy cream.
There are many stories about the origin of this dish and its name. The word carbonara is derived from carbonaro, or “charcoal burner” -possibly a reference to the flecks of black pepper in the creamy egg-based sauce. This dish is generally supposed to come from Rome, and showed up on plates during or just after the World War II. The classic preparation uses guanciale, a type of unsmoked Italian bacon made from pork cheeks. A common substitution is pancetta, made from pork belly. In practice, you can use any type of thick bacon or salt pork.