Pasta Carbonara (The Best)
- 1/4 lb (115 g) pancetta, diced (see note)
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar and pestle
- 1/2 lb (225 g) spaghettoni
- 4 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup (75 g) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 3/4 cup (75 g) Pecorino cheese, finely grated
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the pancetta in the oil. Add the pepper and cook 1 minute longer. Set the pancetta aside, leaving the cooking fat in the skillet.
- In a pot of lightly salted water, cook the pasta for 5 minutes or until slightly tender but still firm at the centre. Reserve 1½ cups (375 ml) of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta.
- In a bowl, combine the egg yolks with both cheeses and ¼ cup (60 ml) of the pasta cooking water. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in the same large skillet you used to cook the pancetta, continue to cook the pasta with 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the pasta cooking water, stirring constantly, until al dente and the liquid has evaporated. Add more pasta cooking water if it evaporates before the pasta is properly cooked.
- Off the heat, add the egg yolk mixture and the pancetta to the pasta. Stir continuously to prevent the eggs from coagulating. Add more pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce as needed. Serve immediately. Generously season with pepper.
Pancetta, which isn’t smoked, adds the right balance of salt and umami to the pasta. Bacon has a smoky flavour that, in combination with the cheeses, can bring an excess of umami to the dish. You can also use guanciale (pork cheek), but it is more difficult to find.