I learned this beautiful, simple, Roman dish during my time studying in Florence, Italy. My professor Giancarlo Russo showed us the real Italian way to make a carbonara. I find that often in the U.S., people tend to want to add cream because they believe it is a cream sauce. A true carbonara has simple ingredients… Egg, parmigiano, guanciale, and black pepper. The pasta water, parmigiano, and egg are what create the emulsion sauce which feels like a heavy cream sauce. When done correctly, simplicity is magical.
Fresh Pasta (optional, but WORTH IT)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups 00 Flour plus more for dusting the surface
- 2 tbsp. Semolina Flour
- Freshly Grated Nutmeg
- 1 tbsp. EVOO
- Sea salt
Combine your dry ingredients on a large surface or wood board. Make a well in the center, and put your eggs and EVOO in the center. Slowly start breaking up the egg and combine with the surrounding dry ingredients until it begins to form a dough. Knead the dough with the palm of your hand until smooth, at least 8 minutes. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Once the dough has rested, cut into pieces and roll out with a pasta machine–one by one. I go until I hit a 6 on the Kitchenaid attachment for the thickness. Slice the pasta sheets to a small fettuccine thickness. An easy way to cut consistently is lightly rolling up the long sheets, and then slicing the noodle thickness.
- 8 oz. Diced Pancetta or Guanciale
- 4 eggs room temperature, whisked in a large bowl
- 1 and 1/4 cups of good quality grated parmigiano reggiano
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced finely
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
In a saute pan over medium heat, add your diced pancetta or guanciale and render in its own fat, stirring with a wooden spoon until golden crispy. Add the garlic in once the pork fat is rendered and stir, for about 2 minutes until aromatic. Turn off the heat.
In salted boiling water, cook your fresh pasta for about 3-4 minutes or until al dente. If using pre-made pasta, follow those instructions. Continue in batches and keep the pasta warm, covered by a towel while working.
Meanwhile, to the bowl the eggs are whisked together in, add the pancetta and garlic mixture as well as the parmigiano. Stir well and add the black pepper.
Add the hot pasta, dragging along some of the used pasta water and toss very quickly. Make sure you toss, and toss to prevent the egg from scrambling in the heat. If your sauce looks too thick, add a tablespoon more of pasta water to thin it out and the starch will create your cream sauce.
Top with more parmigiano, parsley, and black pepper and serve. Buon appetito!