The classic carbonara
Serves 2 people as a main, or 4 as a starter.
- Start heating a large saucepan of salted water to cook the pasta.
- Chop the guanciale, pancetta or streaky bacon into small strips of about 2 cm x 0.5 cm
- Start cooking dried pasta now if it needs 10-12 minutes before it is al dente (check packet instructions in case it is a faster cooking one).
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan (not a cast iron one as this retains too much heat), add the bacon and fry on a moderate-high heat until both the meat and the fat start to brown, stirring occasionally to stop it burning.
- Meanwhile crack the (room temperature) eggs into a bowl and mix with a fork. Stir in 50g of the finely grated parmesan until fully combined.
- If you are using fresh or home-made pasta put it in the pan of boiling water now – for about 3 minutes.
- When the pasta you are using is cooked almost al dente, take the bacon frying pan off the heat. Add the pasta and a spoonful of pasta cooking water to the 'bacony' pan. Stir so the pasta gets coated with the ‘bacony’ oil.
- Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta. Stir through quickly, and the residual heat will make the egg mixture thicken around the pasta to make the sauce – but make sure you stir and serve quickly so the egg does not get too hot in the pan - or it will scramble.
- Serve immediately on to warm (not hot) bowls or plates. Sprinkle on the extra parmesan and grind some black pepper over.
- Serve this with a Soave or Pinot Grigio.
- The egg in a classic carbonara sauce is not fully cooked, so this dish is not suitable for anyone who is pregnant. If you don’t want to use egg in the sauce, substitute with cream – less traditional, but still tasty.
- Guanciale is cured pork cheek meat and is traditionally used in carbonara - but it may be hard to find - so you can substitute it with either pancetta or streaky bacon.
- If your eggs are straight from the fridge you will need to gently warm them – put the (metal or glass) bowl with the egg and cheese mix over the pasta water for a couple of minutes – but don’t leave it there too long or it will cook!