F+W’s Perfect Spaghetti alla Carbonara

  • Perfect Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Flour + Water Spaghetti (½ box)
  • 4.5 oz. Guanciale, skin and thick black pepper crust removed
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 oz. (or 1 ½ cup if freshly grated with a fine grater) Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated
  • 4 large egg yolks (or 3 extra large)
  • 1 Tbsp Black pepper, plus additional for garnish

Method

Carbonara is all about preparation and technique. This recipe requires few ingredients, but it’s important to have everything prepped and ready before the spaghetti hits the boiling water. This dish happens fast and overcooks even faster (no one likes scrambled eggs in their spaghetti). Carbonara, a classic Roman pasta, is a favorite of the team at Penny Roma. It’s spicy from black pepper, zesty from pecorino romano and rich from the guanciale and egg yolks. In the traditional recipe, you won't find Parmigiano-Reggiano, but we find it helps take the salty edge off the pecorino romano.

Dice guanciale into ¼ inch cubes.

Add guanciale, along with 3 tablespoons of water to a 12” high sided saute pan and place over medium heat. Stirring often, cook guanciale until the water evaporates and the guanciale begins to caramelize in its own fat. Continue cooking until the outside of the guanciale is well caramelized and tender. 

Turn off the heat and strain the guanciale through a mesh strainer over a bowl, reserving both the cubed meat and rendered fat. Transfer the meat to a plate lined with a paper towel. Measure 3 tablespoons of the rendered guanciale fat and add it back to the saute pan (still off the heat) and reserve. Allow the fat to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

To cook the pasta, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a 6 quart stock pot. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt to the water and make sure it remains at a constant boil over high heat. Drop the pasta into the salted water and stir to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom. Stir the pot often to ensure the individual noodles are constantly moving and cook evenly. After 4 minutes, start finishing the pan sauce in the reserved saute pan.

Add pecorino romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg yolks and black pepper to the saute pan with reserved guanciale fat and stir to combine. Add a 2 ounce ladle of pasta water to the sauce while whisking. Return to the stove over low heat and continue whisking until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon (about 30 seconds). The sauce should not exceed 150 degree celsius at this point (to be safe, you can check with an instant read thermometer). Remove from the heat and check pasta for doneness.

Once the pasta is cooked through, but remains al dente (toothsome), remove from the water and strain spaghetti directly into the saute pan. The pan will remain off the heat for the remainder of the process. Continue tossing the pasta in the pan sauce until it evenly coats the noodles. If the sauce begins to appear too thick, add a small amount (1 ounce or so) at a time of pasta water and continue tossing.

To plate, divide between 4 bowls and top with additional pecorino romano and fresh cracked pepper.

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